Costuming Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson for Netflix’s ‘The Lost Daughter’: An Interview with Costume Designer Edward K. Gibbon

The Lost Daughter is a brilliant new film, starring Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson. This thrilling drama directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal brings the audience on a memorable ride, heightened by award-worthy costumes. The Lost Daughter costumes were designed by Edward K. Gibbon, a talented costume designer known for his work on Skins, The Honorable Woman, Black Mirror, The Luminaries, and The Sound of Music Live. I fell in love with this film likely due in part to Olivia Colman’s entire wardrobe and the role these costumes played in the storytelling. I was honored with the opportunity to speak with Edward about his career and The Lost Daughter costumes!

Spencer: Edward, thank you so much for joining me! I’ve been so excited to talk to you. This is our first interview, which means I am dying to dive into your background as a costume designer. You have quite an accomplished portfolio. Did you always know you would end up being a costume designer? 

Edward: No, not at all. It took me a long time to work out what I wanted to do when I grew up. When I was a kid, I didn’t even know what a costume designer was. I went to a very traditional low-rent, British public school that didn’t really encourage anything artistic. I started off working in the theater because I had vague ambitions. Then I thought maybe I could be an actor, but the only access I had to start was working the door in a theater. I thought perhaps I’d somehow get into acting this way. So…that didn’t work! 


I’ve always loved clothes. I then went to Manchester University in England. I did a general clothing studies course that I thought would be more fashion-oriented without having to have the artistic prerequisites. It was more of a training to work in a factory. I switched to another design course, and I specialized in graphics. I went into graphic design, but I had always made clothes for myself and other people. This led me to start up a little fashion label in Manchester back in the day when you could have a cheap studio. 

Slowly from there, I got into working in theater. In the back of my head, I started to realize I maybe wanted to be a costume designer. In the meantime, I retrained as a tailor. I did that for opera companies for a while. Finally, I got a chance to assist a designer, and it all came into focus. I realized that maybe this was a proper career, and I could do it. I then got a brilliant offer to work on a show called Skins. They took a real pardon on me. I hadn’t got any experience designing on my own. It was the perfect job for me. The show was so brilliant and groundbreaking, and it didn’t matter to them that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing half the time. It was great. 

Spencer: *laughs* Yet, it turned out to be such a fantastic show!

Edward: Yeah, it was incredible, wasn’t it? It was so inspiring on all levels, between the writing and the acting. It was a real group effort between everyone involved, and there were no rules. Skins helped me realize what I could do as well. It came with that boost. Then everything else started weirdly falling into place and has always been interesting. I think that’s what I try to hold on to; I treat each of my projects the same way. Because I don’t have a background in design or costume history… yet I love costumes and clothes, so I try to bring something a bit more fresh with pure gratitude to every project. 


Spencer: Your background offers a unique perspective! It’s so funny; in many of these interviews I have done, most costume designers say they didn’t realize costume design was a job. They end up in the theater, and I often hear graphic design as a path. There is a thread here!

Edward: Yeah, I know. I often find it quite funny when you meet younger people, and they have this entire route of how they’re going to do things, which is excellent. It’s brilliant. But it kind of amazes me; I wonder how you could be so cued up. Looking back with hindsight, everything I did leading up to now… I don’t think I’d be where I am without all of those moments.

Spencer: Right, I know exactly what you mean. Now let’s talk about the subject at hand, The Lost Daughter, starring Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. It’s such a great film, and I consider myself quite the Olivia Colman nerd. So naturally, I was excited to watch this. Before we get into the main character, Leda, let’s talk about filming in Athens, Greece! I hear you sourced many of the costumes from the islands?

Edward: Yeah, it was mad because this took place in the middle of the pandemic. Maggie offered me the job literally the week before the pandemic started. No one knew what was happening. Originally it was going to be shot in New Jersey. Things went quiet for a bit, and I thought maybe the film wouldn’t happen. Then suddenly, Maggie was like, “do you want to come to Greece?” Well, yeah! I had been locked in my house for four months by that time. 


We did the prep in Athens. I did about two and a half weeks of shopping. Luckily the stores had just reopened. They were really good in Greece with masks; we were being tested all the time. I had a brilliant assistant, Alkisti Mamali. We just hit the shops like crazy for two and a half weeks, getting everything we could together.

We filmed on an island called Spetses, which is incredibly beautiful, about two hours away from Athens. Everything got packed up and we brought a seamstress with us for another week and a half on the island until we shot. We were also fortunate to have quite a few Greek and international designers gifting us things, especially for Olivia and Dakota. It was a mixture of all that, plus we made a lot. 

Spencer: It was a mixture between sourcing and creation.

Edward: Yeah, and I always try to do that. I think it’s because I come from a certain creation background that I love even back in the day on Skins. Making pieces will always give you a uniqueness to the project. Maggie was very into the idea of it being slightly timeless and iconic. It’s got a look.

Spencer: Well, it’s interesting you said that because I felt like the film had a look. I’ve done a lot of these interviews now, but this film was a little bit harder for me to crack, costume-wise. I was trying to figure out the story you were telling with the costumes. 

It’s not really on the nose, but what I thought you did with Olivia’s character was quite brilliant. The film has a dark, haunting tone at times, but I felt like the costumes felt hopeful and optimistic. You could tell that her character is kind of holding herself back a little bit. Something was holding her down as the story moved along, though you kind of see little moments of liberation in her costume. I don’t know if that is how you envisioned it, so I am interested to hear your thoughts?


Edward: I think that’s brilliant, Spencer. You’ve really kind of nailed it in a way. I believe that the whole thing with Leda was really interesting when Maggie cast Olivia. Because when you read the character, she’s very kind of elegant and very sophisticated, which Olivia is totally. But I think Olivia also brought more humor to the character. The aim was to present a woman with a certain elegance and a certain; she knew what she looked good in. It was, as you say, slightly controlled, slightly limited. She was dressing to appear in a certain way which was this way of a professional, middle-aged academic with style.

Because we had the opportunity of the flashbacks, we see Leda when she was younger. She was slightly less put together and more thrown together. So throughout the film, you see that constant change in her. Then the story goes on. This is not a story about someone going crazy, but it’s someone letting things come up from below or beneath the surface. We introduce more color and a bit more shape as Leda moves throughout this story.

Spencer: It’s all coming together. By the way,  I just have to take a moment to say, Leda’s sunglasses game was incredible.

Edward: Oh, they are cool, aren’t they! *laughs*

Spencer: Yes, they were showstoppers! Are they hers? *laughs*

Edward: They are now. *laughs* Most of what she’s wearing is hers now. She loved it! The main ones she wears are vintage Celine that we found in a brilliant store in Athens. So we were so lucky. 

Spencer: It felt like a real iconic fashion moment. Did Olivia have a collaborative hand in this process?


Edward: Yes, it was really lovely, and that’s a really important part for me. Part of my job is to make the actor feel comfortable and to feel supported. That collaboration on all levels with directors, the writers, and the actors. It’s really important for me to help understand the character and more of what they know about it. This was also really important for Maggie. I’d worked with Maggie previously on The Honorable Woman; therefore, her perception of the craft and the process is very different because she’s been on the other side of the camera.

So sometimes she’d just be like, you know, I don’t mind what they wear as long as they’re comfortable, as long as they like it. This was interesting because it’s always part of my approach anyway.

Spencer: That’s a lot of freedom, actually!

Edward: Yeah, I know! *laughs* And it’s not always like that. There were moments when she’d be like, “well, maybe…” that was part of the fun.

Spencer: I love that! I noticed immediately, though, as soon as Dakota Johnson’s character came on screen, the stark contrast between Leda and Nina. I’m going to guess that this was intentional. What story were you telling with Nina compared to Olivia Colman’s character? 

Edward: I think you’re right. I think it is that complete contrast. There is always that challenge in costuming, designing each person’s unique looks, as well as those contrast and differences. You don’t get very long on screen. It has to be quite immediate, and then you just get on with the story. 


So like you said, that was totally deliberate. You see Olivia, and she’s very elegant. She’s neutral, tonal, and covered up even on the beach. Then suddenly, Dakota shows up in these crazy, high-cut swimsuits, clinging gold jewelry and covered in tattoos. Immediately, there are assumptions that you make, and that was Maggie’s other thing; there is always a fine line, to never be judgmental. So we were trying not to be judgmental, but at the same time, give little hints to the character.

Spencer: That’s a good point too. You had to make every costume count, as there were only so many characters. I loved watching Leda’s journey throughout the story because I felt like I was right there with her as she was going through this emotional journey. One of my favorite moments was when she broke out of her usual palette into that reddish pink dress singing “Livin’ on a Prayer”, totally different than anything we saw throughout the rest of the film.

Edward: So brilliant, wasn’t it? I’m so happy. It was one of those things that I never thought everyone would go with. Part of the job is knowing when to stop designing. I had this brilliant image way back of Miuccia Prada wearing this pink dress, taking her bows at the end of a show, and she had this brilliant pink dress on, and it somehow became a reference for me. 

We found this dress in a store in Athens, and it’s actually Max Mara. I don’t think I bought it initially, but I kept thinking about it. I just had to have that dress. Olivia could have just laughed, and I showed it to her, but she sort of didn’t, and Maggie didn’t either. We didn’t know what point in the story we could pitch it. But then it came, and that moment was the moment that she does suddenly break free.


The other hilarious thing about the dancing scene is I’m in the bloody dancing scene. 

Spencer: Wait, what? Are you really? *laughs*

Edward: Oh, yes, don’t look! You’ll see my terrible dad dancing. We were on an island, and because of the pandemic, we had to have a small pool of people who could be in the background and get close to the actors. I ended up literally dancing for about eight hours. 

Spencer: That would be my next question; how long did you have to dance?

Edward: *laughs* Hours and hours! Key hairstylist Daniel Babek and I were doing just mental dancing for hours. To begin with, Maggie loved it! Then she was like, okay, can you just calm down a little bit?

Spencer: This is probably one of my favorite stories I’ve heard all week! Thank you for that. I’m going to go back and watch it now. So I wanted to end with the last shot of the film. I thought this was so interesting. Leda is lying in the waves, wearing a white dress. It’s pretty transparent and covered in her blood, which was a great contrast against the white. I couldn’t help but feel like there was some sort of symbolic nature to this costume that felt similar to a Grecian Statue? I was just captivated by this moment.

Edward: It came about on lots of levels. Initially, it was just my thought that we would see the scene go from night to day. I felt that a white dress would be really beautiful and glowing. As she got wet, I thought it would look incredible as well. The whole white dress thing became a bit symbolic. She wore a white dress when she was first seen on the beach. When young Leda returns to her kids, she brings them white dresses. Then, later on we see Nina’s kid wearing a white dress in the toy store. Even when Leda buys new clothes for the doll, it is wearing a white dress which I actually made.


Spencer: I figured so; I was going to ask you about the doll!

Edward: Yeah, the doll has a little white collar on her dress, the same fabric. There is a little bit of a reference to the poem that the young lady recites in Italian at the dinner party, later referring to the Greek myth of the woman with the Swan. When we did some tests on the fabric while it was wet, it kind of had this lovely draped effect, almost like a Greek statue. That all felt right. 

Spencer: That was one of my favorite moments. It was effortlessly executed! 

Edward: It just felt so pure, and with the blood, it was amazing. 

Spencer: This is why I love this field so much. I love how you took every moment and made the most of it. The Lost Daughter was an example of peak storytelling through costume design. You took every moment, and you made the most of it. 

So now that we are best friends, what can we see you doing coming up in the future? I’m excited to hear.

Edward: I’ve just finished an Apple TV show called Liaison, an international terrorism thriller shot in London, Paris, and Belgium. 

Spencer: Certainly a bit different than The Lost Daughter *laughs*

Edward: Yes exactly! *laughs* Then in 2022, I’m supposed to be doing a musical! 

Spencer: Brilliant, I can’t wait to see. Well, thank you so much for talking with me Edward. Congratulations on all of the success of the film. It truly was amazing and I hope everyone stops what they are doing and go watch The Lost Daughter. This has been a real honor, and I hope to speak with you again soon!

Edward: I’d love to, Spencer. Thank you so much; this was brilliant!

The Lost Daughter is now available on Netflix!

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – The Art of Costume Blogcast

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – S1 Holiday Bonus

Surprise! Christmas came early this year with a special holiday episode of The Art of Costume Blogcast. For this week’s episode, Elizabeth and Spencer record their first episode together in Los Angeles to talk about Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, a 1993 American stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy holiday film directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton. Listen along as our cohosts talk about the film’s complicated history and the costumes worn by your favorite characters.

The Art of Costume Blogcast

Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and wherever you get your podcasts!

Devilish Costumes: An Interview With ‘Lucifer’ Costume Designer, Agata Maszkiewicz

Lucifer revolves around the story of Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), the DC Universe’s version of the Devil, who abandons Hell for Los Angeles where he runs his own nightclub named Lux and becomes a consultant to the Los Angeles Police Department.

I was honored with the opportunity to speak with the costume designer who designed the last few seasons of the show, Agata Maszkiewicz. In this interview, we talk about Agata’s early beginnings, dressing Lucifer Morningstar, the iconic wedding scene from the final season, and some favorite costumes from the show!

Spencer: Thank you so much for joining me. I’ve been looking forward to talking to you. I love Lucifer, and I loved your work on it.

Agata: Thank you. It’s nice to be here. I’m always surprised how many people love that show from all walks of life.

Spencer: These costumes are super fun. I could ask you about every single costume if we had the time. For every first-time interview, I love to turn back time a little and ask about your journey to becoming a costume designer, the overall story of Agata.

Agata: Sure! I grew up in Poland towards the end of the communist times. So, I hadn’t an idea that costume design was even a job.

I always loved clothes, but it just seemed so abstract. So I went to high school for arts. I studied graphics and one of my teachers said I might have to have to find a different career. “You’re not going to make an artist.” *laughs* But I did learn a lot of things that became quite handy later on. It was a broad program. There was painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. It gave me a good background.

Credit: John P. Fleenor/Netflix Copyright: © 2021 Netflix, Inc.

In the meantime, my dad traveled a lot and ended up in New York for about four years and then moved to Los Angeles. He asked me, why don’t I study fashion in Los Angeles? I just thought… okay, you can do that? Turns out you can! I asked him to please send me the paperwork for FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in Los Angeles.

Spencer: Wait! You went to FIDM? 

Agata: Yeah!

Spencer: Oh, no way! I won’t include this in the article but I work with FIDM and also studied fashion design there. We are both alums!

Agata: Oh, no we have to talk about FIDM now!One of the things that FIDM does is their annual costume exhibits in the FIDM Museum. They showcase costumes from many films and television shows from throughout the year. For somebody who loves costumes, it’s just such a wonderful thing to see. Because you get to watch the movie, then you get to see it up close in real life.

It was a wonderful, learning process for me. I remember going to see costumes and thinking, “thats how they did it! ”. Sometimes you’re surprised because you think everything is done a certain way. You get to observe the costumes yourself and see that certain things read completely different in real life versus when they are on camera. So that was then a light bulb went off!

Credit: John P. Fleenor/Netflix Copyright: © 2021 Netflix, Inc.

I liked this so much better than fashion design. I finished the regular fashion program and then went into the FIDM Debut program where you get to do a fashion show in the end. But by the end of that, I was completely changed and knew I wanted to try costumes.

FIDM has a placement program, helping students get internships and my first one was on on How Stella Got Her Groove Back. So I met Ruth Carter, who is amazing. 

Spencer: Oh wow that’s amazing.

Agata: She was so kind and sweet and I was a kid, but she was so patient. She looked at my drawings and showed me how it’s done. Ruth was running, she was busy. But she gave me her time and I’ll never forget it. That was the kindest thing anyone had ever done for me in costume. I was hooked.

Spencer: Oh, I love this story so much. It’s funny, our stories almost run in same paths. I feel like so much of what I do now originated in the FIDM Museum. That museum sparked so much of that love for costume within me as it did for you.

Let’s fast forward now to Lucifer, today’s topic at hand. You took on Lucifer at a pivotal moment for the show as it was being taken over by Netflix. What was that experience like? Were you nervous? Were you excited? Those emotions must have been interesting?

Agata: I’d never done something like taking over a  show that was so thoroughly developed. But as you said, it was a moment when change was happening. Moving to Netflix, changed the show a little. There was a slightly different format. The seasons are shorter, and you sort of had more freedom. It felt. So I feel like I used that freedom! *laughs*

Spencer: You were creating looks for angelic and demonic characters. What sort of inspirations were you taking in? 

Agata: Yeah, they are sort of the celestial creatures. First thing, I looked at a lot of Medieval and Renaissance paintings. I feel we all have a collective idea of what an angel and demon is. That comes from a lot of paintings.

Credit: John P. Fleenor/Netflix Copyright: © 2021 Netflix, Inc.

I wanted a specific look, not just of vague idea. From there, I looked at a lot of different armor from very different eras. There’s some samurai influences, some ancient armor. I had to figure out how to marry that all together.

Spencer: I certainly saw those influences, yet I find it funny because this all takes place in modern-day Los Angeles.

Lets talk about some specific characters. We have to start by talking about the main character of the show. Lucifer Morningstar, played by Tom Ellis. He knows how to wear a suit and tuxedo. Walk me through the process of dressing your lead actor if you would?

Agata: Yeah! His suits were made by a suit maker in Los Angeles called Di Stefano. They made his suits in Italy so we had them ordered at the beginning of the season. They would get shipped to us, and we picked the fabrics. Then we had some made in Los Angeles if we had a shorter timeline. I tailored here. Then on special occasion, we made him some tuxedos. I don’t know who doesn’t love him in a nice tuxedo. 

Spencer: Right. He looks soooo good in a tuxedo.

Agata: Tom is so dreamy, and he’s the nicest person, very easy going. It was just such a pleasure. I loved it. Tom is usually game for anything. But Lucifer does have a look. Take the wedding for example, he wears this beautiful burgundy tuxedo jacket and that’s one we actually made. I was looking all over town around Christmas time. So I just kept thinking there had to be a perfect burgundy. I had such a hard time finding it. It had to have a certain weight. I finally went to this drapery fabric store… so Lucifer is basically wearing curtains and looking good doing it. 

Spencer: *laughs* Brilliant. Did you and Tom have a strong collaboration? Did he have input on the costumes?

Agata: Yes, definitely. It was always such a pleasure. It was more like coming over for a chat! There’s that fairly short scene where he wears a fully white tuxedo. It was so fun when he’s God towards the end of the sixth season. He is wearing white Birkenstocks, which was his idea actually.

Copyright: © 2021 Netflix, Inc.

Spencer: I love that, so much. I love a comfortable Birkenstock. 

Agata: If anybody looks closely, there’s Tom and his beautiful white tuxedo and white Birkenstocks. 

Spencer: One thing we talk a lot about at The Art of Costume is the idea of storytelling through costume design. Did you feel like the costumes helped evolve the characters throughout your three seasons? Was there a particular journey felt like you were trying to convey through costuming?

Agata: Yes. Different characters have different journeys. I feel like the character who had the most change was Maze (played by Lesley-Ann Brandt). She went from being a soul-less demon to being someone deeply in love. love dressing that character. There were a lot of fun costumes there. 

Spencer: So let’s talk about some favorite looks of mine, which really were worn by Maze since you brought her up. The first one came from the season five finale. This costume is so cool, but then there’s so much great costuming happening all around. 

Copyright: © 2021 Netflix, Inc.

Agata: Maze’s costume was made from scratch. She stood there for quite a long time. I feel it was a couple of hours and I was just painting the leather on her. She was very patient and she’s very committed to her costumes. That’s not always the case. This is basically leather spandex on her and then a wonderful seamstress in the Warner Brothers tailor room put it together. 

Courtesy of Agata Maszkiewicz

That was fun. This happened right when COVID was happening, we were supposed to shoot scene in February, but we ended up not doing it until September. There were originally way more people. We did fittings for weeks. Then it got scaled down quite a bit. 

But Maze started pretty much wearing black all the time. Then in small doses, we were adding color, mostly red, representing that fiery warrior. 

Spencer: For lack of a better word, it was pretty bad ass. Another episode I want to talk about, which also happens to be a Maze centered episode. I would love to talk about Maze and Eve’s wedding looks from episode seven of the final season. I’m obsessed. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. That black gown that Mazes wears… sheesh!

Copyright: © 2021 Netflix, Inc.

Agata: When designing a wedding for a television show, it’s a completely different game. With wedding dresses, everybody knows you’re ordering months in advance and unfortunately, we didn’t have that much time.

But we were lucky. There’s this amazing designer, Gelerah, that Lesley-Ann and I were talking about for the wedding. We were throwing around some ideas and I was showing her some things. But we were just looking, and she’s like, “this is pretty great isn’t it?” My assistant reached out to them and they made the dress. We just added the arm pieces from Etsy, I believe somebody in Germany made them. It was the simplest thing, we just sent measurements and address. Perfect.

Courtesy of Agata Maszkiewicz

Spencer: Wow, it rarely works out that easily.

Agata: I got so lucky. Then when we were designing Eve’s dress, we wanted it to be the complete opposite to what Maze was going wear. 

Spencer: Right. It couldn’t be more different.

Agata: Yeah, there’s this beautiful Renaissance painting,  Spring by Botticelli. I remember sending it to Inbar Lavi and she’s like, “my God. Yes. I think that’s it.” So that’s what the dress is inspired by.

Sandro Botticelli (Florence 1445 -1510)

Spencer: I love that.

Agata: We bought a dress on Etsy and they sold us some extra fabric. So the bustier is from a dress from Etsy. Then we remade the skirt. It worked out well!

Spencer: Well, it came out looking like a dream. Quite the fairytale! I want to to talk about one more look. This look is a testament to the range and freedom you had. Let’s talk about Maze and this pink anime-inspired outfit. It was so startling to see Maze in pink! Walk me through the inspiration for this.

Agata: Well, that’s a funny moment because she gets called back on her wedding night to a emergency meeting. She runs over from whatever she was doing with Eve to the penthouse. So I was talking with Lesley-Ann and we were thinking about what would that be? You know, her wardrobe is pretty out there, she goes to Starbucks pretty much wearing chains.

Copyright: © 2021 Netflix, Inc. Courtesy of Agata Maszkiewicz

Spencer: *laughs* Right.

Agata: We had to think where to go from the dark, chains side of Maze for her wedding night outfit. I think it was also Lesley-Ann’s idea to go completely opposite. We got some fabrics, and we started putting it together. The belt is a necklace with a little cat necklace. This lovely tailor from Warner Brothers made the big tutu. It took hours to make, there were so many layers. There was so much pink! It cracks me up every time I see it. I kept a belt, by the way. I still have it.

Courtesy of Agata Maszkiewicz

Spencer: Of course. How could you have not? My last question, was there a particular episode or design you created overtime on the show that might be one of your favorites? I know that’s kind of a tricky question.

Agata: Actually yes. Season 5, Episode 4, “It Never Ends Well For The Chicken”… the Noir episode. It’s all in black and white. That was so much fun. It’s so much work, but so much fun. My assistant and I, we were just putting things together, then photographed things in black and white. It was so fun to see how everything looked and creating this 1940’s Los Angeles.

Spencer: Wow. You, really got to do a lot of fun, different things with these final seasons!

Agata: Oh, yeah. I feel like it wasn’t just me. It was everybody on the show. There were less episodes but more freedom. I don’t know who told the writers that they can do whatever they want, but they did. It was really fun and I do miss it. I miss that show. There are certain projects, certain characters… 

Copyright: © 2021 Netflix, Inc.

Spencer: Right. It was a special one. With that, what kind of exciting things might we see you working on in the future? 

Agata: I’m starting a project pretty soon actually. It’s called National Treasure.

Spencer: Oh no big, just a little something called National Treasure!

Agata: Yeah. I feel like this will be pretty fun!

Spencer: That’s amazing. I’m excited about that and I can’t wait to hear all about it. It’s a new chapter. New inspirations. New research. I’m excited for you.

Agata: Yeah, me too. We will see how we see how it goes. I like studying new things. Sometimes I just think, is this even really work? Because I really love what I do. Ooh, there’s going to be a whole new room full of stuff.

Spencer: Agata, thank you so much for talking with me. I’m so excited for you. I loved talking about Lucifer, and I hope to have you back soon!

Agata: That would be fun! Let’s do it.

The Finale Season of Lucifer is now available on Netflix!

House of Gucci – The Art of Costume Blogcast

House of Gucci – S1.E24

It’s the season one finale of The Art of Costume Blogcast, sweeties! In this week’s episode, Elizabeth and Spencer celebrate the premiere season of the podcast by talking about their favorite episodes and memories. Then it’s time for the moment we have all been waiting for, House of Gucci. Character by character, our co-hosts discuss all of the costumes from this film designed by Janty Yates. This includes every costume from Paolo Gucci’s (Jared Leto) raspberry corduroy suit to Patrizia Reggiani’s (Lady Gaga) evil-red ski suit.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Costume designer for The OfficeCarey Bennett, returns for the grand reveal of our winner for The Office: Holiday Robe Giveaway!

Thank you for joining us in our first season! Don’t worry; season two is not far away as we are set to return in January 2022! Please leave us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts if you enjoyed this season. Follow us on Instagram, subscribe on YouTube, and tell us what you want to hear in the new season by heading to our official website.

The Art of Costume Blogcast

Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and wherever you get your podcasts!

Costume Designer Janty Yates Shines with the ‘House of Gucci’ Exhibit at the FIDM Museum

On display at the FIDM Museum exhibit are costumes worn by Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci. Photo by Alex J. Berlinger/ABImages.

Have you seen Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci yet? What a silly question, of course you have! I am sure you are as much in love with the costumes as I am. If that is the case, then drop what you are doing and run, don’t walk, to the FIDM Museum in Downtown Los Angeles!

Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) and United Artists Releasing have partnered with the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising for a limited time House of Gucci exhibit at the FIDM Museum from November 23 – December 4, 2021 (10AM – 5PM PT).

On display at the FIDM Museum exhibit are costumes worn by Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci. Photo by Alex J. Berlinger/ABImages.

Presenting an exclusive mix of never-before-seen House of Gucci photography, film footage, and costumes curated by costume designer Janty Yates, this exhibition offers audiences an immersive experience and backstage access to director Ridley Scott’s crime drama starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, with Salma Hayek and Al Pacino.

With exhibition curation and creative direction led by Melina Matsoukas’ De La Revolución, in conjunction with MGM and United Artists Releasing, you are invited to explore the world of the House of Gucci through exclusive new film stills, unit photography shot during film production, behind-the-scenes photography and cast portraits shot by photographer Cuba Tornado Scott.

I’ll be completely honest, I felt quite emotional walking through the exhibition. The detail and construction was quite moving. Janty Yates did an incredible job as costume designer on this film, certainly one of my favorite films of the year! This exhibition is a must see for any costume design fan… or all around Lady Gaga fanatic like myself…

On display at the FIDM Museum exhibit are costumes worn by Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci. Photo by Alex J. Berlinger/ABImages.

The museum is open from 10AM – 5PM PT from now until December 4th so get going! Admission is free. Masks and Proof of Vaccination are required.

HOUSE OF GUCCI – Now Playing Only in Theaters

The Addams Family – The Art of Costume Blogcast

The Addams Family – S1.E23

They’re creepy and they’re kooky. Mysterious and spooky. They’re all together ooky… why this week we are watching, The Addams Family! In this week’s episode, we are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 1991 film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, The Addams Family. Listen along as our cohosts talk about their favorite costumes by Ruth Myers, macabre children’s plays, the history of The Addams Family, and don’t think we aren’t doing The Mamushka. Don’t torture yourself, that’s our job.

The Art of Costume Blogcast

Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and wherever you get your podcasts!

Jane Holland and the Costumes of Cowboy Bebop

Today I am so excited to speak with Jane Holland, costume designer from one of my new favorite shows, Cowboy Bebop. The live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop takes place in 2071 and follows Spike Spiegel (played by John Cho) as he wanders the galaxy in search of jobs as he begins leading a group of ragtag bounty hunters to chase down criminals across the solar system while trying to earn different rewards. I speak with Jane Holland about her inspirations and the process behind translating some of our favorite characters from the anime to this live-action adaptation.

Spencer: Thank you, Jane, for joining me. I’m so excited to talk to you, I love the show. I powered through it so quickly, I just couldn’t put it down.

Jane: Thank you so much for having me. I am excited to be here!

Spencer: It’s my honor! Every time I have a new guest, I love to hear about their journey to becoming the costume designer sitting in front of me.

Jane: It makes complete sense to me now, but it wasn’t straightforward. I didn’t know that costume could be a profession so I did a science degree because my passion was with words, drama, and performance; and an English and drama degree. I was interested in storytelling; that’s always been my passion.

Through drama, I ended up on a film set, and I was watching and talking to people behind the scenes, and I just thought, that’s where I belong. I want to be doing that. So I got involved in the costume department! I’d always made costumes for production while studying drama, so it wasn’t completely unfamiliar to me. That’s when I realized that there was a job there.

I was fortunate. to have foundd myself working on Jane Campion’s film, The Piano, as a standby. I looked after Anna Paquin and Holly Hunter primarily. I kind of looked after all the women. It was just extraordinary, that film that was so pivotal in so many ways. From a design perspective, working with that costume designer, Janet Patterson, really opened my eyes to what you can do in costume as a storyteller.

So I went from there to the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney and studied costume design there. I came back and found my feet as a costume designer. Being in New Zealand, I’ve had a real diversity of projects!

Spencer: I love this story, and I feel that it is so relatable to so many in the costume field. I can hardly wait; let’s get into Cowboy Bebop. You did such a brilliant job with the show. I loved it. But have to ask, though, the anime is such a massive hit that is so beloved by fans. I have to imagine this was a bit of a daunting project to take on?

Jane: Yeah, there’s a responsibility for sure. So, going back to when I came onto the project, the enthusiasm was a bit quieter. I was aware of the fans, but I always felt my responsibility was to the anime. If I could find a connection and draw the threads and sensibility of the anime and bring that into the live-action costuming, I felt that if I could embrace the spirit of the anime, then maybe the fans would embrace the live-action costumes.

You have to be open, exploratory and you’d have to be brave. If you’re second-guessing everything and wondering what people are going to think, it can be stifling… So you have to be free! I was sort of feeling that I had a connection and that I was coming from the right place. There’s something about the anime. When I first saw it, I was blown away. The story is just so wacky, different, and surreal. I loved the cacophony of the soundtrack combined with the visuals.

Costume Designer, Jane Holland

My base place was asking myself the question, what was the movement of Cowboy Bebop? Bebop was about breaking free from restraint. It was about improvisation. It was about moving forwards and finding a new way. I embraced that spirit and the storytelling, which became the lens that I applied to my design process. 

Spencer: That’s beautiful. I love the dedication, and I know that your embrace of the spirit of the anime came through in the live-action series on Netflix. Now, taking it from a technical perspective, how do you approach translating characters from the animation and bringing them into the live-action. 

What sort of references besides the anime were you taking in when developing these characters? The show is really unique and stylized, and it’s set in a futuristic time period, but it’s also not futuristic at the same time.

Jane: Right, it’s very retro. We talked collectively about developing the “Bebop Mashup.” The anime has this mesh up, which, as you said, is futuristic, but then it’s retro. So it’s retro sci-fi. It’s full of these collisions; this dissonance then kind of just finds this place. So I think that that was always the challenge, was to find that place. For me, that was the Cowboy Bebop twist.

Spencer: Right, so then how did you apply that Cowboy Bebop twist to our main character, Spike Spiegel?

Jane:  I started with Spike Spiegel and the blue suit because that is sort of the heart of this story. As you begin to drill down into that suit and its relation to the anime… when you really look at it and the shape, it’s kind of unusual. There’s a single boxy lapel that sort of disappears. He’s got this extra long leg, let’s say there’s this real stylized thing about it, but what is with the sleeves rolled up?

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

I looked at Japanese designers and Japanese tailorings, such as Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons. I looked at the tailoring from these designers because there was something in Japanese sensibility, which does precisely what Cowboy Bebop does. It sort of takes something conventional, and then it just gives that bit of twist we see in Cowboy Bebop. 

I also looked at some Japanese and Korean designers who are making contemporary clothing, but they’re kind of reaching into traditional dress. When you look at that kind of tailoring, the way that a jacket does up or that off-center fascinating… that’s in the anime! There’s a link. I found a thread, which led me to work out how to create something that had that single lapel and then make it disappear and come around the other side. So these designers gave me a way to find out how to make Spike Spiegel make sense. 

The suit is a very bright blue, and it’s unusual. We had to create something that embraced the character of Spike Spiegel, who is effortlessly cool, who then turns into this incredible fighting machine. Spike has this depth to him, with his entire past. But then goes back to being cool and heartbroken as well. I built all of that into the costume. 

In the anime, his fight style is described as water. I took that as has as a motif that can be seen on his trophy buckle in a beautiful moment of triumph. You get this flash of this trophy buckle where you can see t’s a tidal wave, a symbol of water. The trophy buckles, made by our in-house jeweler, also are a nod to the Cowboys. This followed through to the buttons that are engraved with the Japanese symbol for water.

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

Then on the inside of the jacket, I ended up printing a tiny pattern of falling roses on the lining of his jacket as a motif for Julia. Julia has a lot of hand-painted roses in her costuming. The same person who hand-painted those roses drew the roses that we replicated inside of his jacket. That’s just a little secret in there. Spike has Julia wrapped around him because he’s a guy with a broken heart, and Julia is his lost love. 

Cowboy Bebop was all about finding the essence of the character and bringing the anime together to work out how it might work on a real-life person. Then from there, drilling down how to add as much storytelling in those signature costumes as I could. 

Spencer: That’s so magical and why I love costume design so much. All of the detail you put into everything from the lapel to the lining… It’s really inspiring.

Jane: The anime was really our concept art. You look at a lot of concept art for costuming, and often it really doesn’t make sense. The concept art doesn’t tell you how to make it. You can focus on design concepts, but it doesn’t always work when it comes to actually making the costume.

The anime gave me the concept art, and my job was to work out its design. How does it actually work? How is it going to function? There is a difference between art and design; created design has to function. As a costume designer, I want that artistic freedom, but ultimately it has to function.

Spencer: Moving on to our other main characters, the idea of function was something you kept in mind when translating them. Let’s talk about Jet Black, shall we? Jet feels as though he came right from the anime, but it still has that apparent twist you mentioned.

Jane: Right. Jet Black is more straightforward. He’s wearing overalls that are kind of utilitarian. The design lines you see in the anime I carried through. It is very similar, but there’s a lot more detail in the costume we made as we translate the anime into real life. 

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

Spencer: It’s an interesting point because the anime is very flat in color; there’s not a lot of stitching detail. So that’s also part of the challenge too. 

Jane: I think it’s great if you think it’s the same as the anime because, well, that’s a job well done, isn’t it? Then he has that robot arm, which was a costume piece as well. We made that. We have a great costume department with and costume props area. The arm was made in the process of sculpting. 

Spencer: We have to talk about my favorite character. I love what you did with Faye Valentine because it’s reminiscent of the anime, but it’s functional, as you talked about earlier. Personally, I feel that her anime costume could not be translated onto a real woman and be functional. What you did with Faye’s live-action costume was functional but still mirrors the anime’s essence. Walk me through your work on this character.

I think it was clear to me that the Faye Valentine of the live-action series needed to do a lot more practically, functionally, than what that costume of the anime would allow her to do. I did the same with Faye as I did with Spike.

I took the character from the script, and I found the resonance. She’s a bounty hunter; she needed to be able to move, to fight, to kick! There was a whole function that was part of it, but there was also something about realizing the design lines of the animation.

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

It might appear that I’ve moved a long way away from the anime, but actually, I haven’t. The top, that’s not that different. We did quite a bit of trial. We had a full yellow two-piece; and a full black two-piece with yellow stitching. So we’ve still got the color in there. It was about finding the gravitas of the character and what she needed to do. 

It was essential to me was that it shouldn’t be gratuitous and overtly sexualized. Those aspects of her character, that’s up to the actor to deliver rather than me imposing that restriction on her. We’re past that in terms of how we present a leading female character in a show. 

So the design lines are actually very similar. Like the stocking, she’s got those high leather leggings. She’s also wearing tights underneath. There’s a lot that is similar, and I pretty much guarantee that if she just shrugged that red leather jacket off her shoulders and struck a Faye Valentine pose from the anime, you’d say she’s exactly the same.

Spencer: I agree, one thousand percent. If the jacket fell a little bit, then viewers would’ve thought it was exactly the same. Faye doesn’t need to be stuck with being this overtly sexualized character. I feel like your costuming helped give Daniella Pineda the room to bring life to this character. What you did with that costume was quite brilliant. 

Jane: Daniella, she’s just so super cool. We needed something that’s got a little bit of street and a bit of sass. She had to be in something that she could do all of this stuff in.

Spencer: I love to hear that. Did you feel like you collaborated a lot with the actors and actresses on this project? 

Jane: Yeah! I think that they’re critical relationships. They are to me because it’s a very intimate space. I was lucky, being in New Zealand and being so far away, that I was in the states right at the very beginning. I was in Los Angeles, and John Cho and Daniella were in Los Angeles. While I was there, I met both of them. I measured them. We talked about the characters. John and I sat down in a café, and we just talked about concept. We talked about ideas, the feeling of the character, and specifically what the costume would be. I think it was very valuable.

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

When I arrived in New Zealand, we had to work fast. When John arrived, we had put the suit on. There were so many things we talked about. From the beginning, and maybe in that first conversation, we talked about how Spike stands; it was really important to him. There’s a particular angle with his hand in his pocket. A classic anime pose!  It’s the more information you have to be working together, the better.

Spencer: You’ve talked about aging and dyeing a little bit. There’s a lot of blood, dirt, and action in this show. I’m notoriously obsessed with aging and dyeing. Can you just give me a little vision of this fun project?

Jane: *laughs* There’s this thing where you kind of build this beautiful costume. Then the first thing that happens to it is that they have to walk out, get hit with a bullet, and now there is blood on it. They trash it completely.

The trashing of the costume is part of the beauty; it’s another angle to costuming. It’s part of the craft. You have your pristine new thing, and then how do you make it look lived in? There is such an art to that. The textile artists who work within that have a painterly approach. There’s very little that ends up on screen without going through the aging and breakdown department.

Spencer: What I appreciate, especially when I think of space-oriented movies and television shows, I think of very minimalistic, clean, futuristic silhouettes. But you made Cowboy Bebop feel very real through the aging process.

Jane: It’s suspending disbelief, isn’t it? I mean, there’s a theatricality to any show that is not a representation of daily life. So what happens is Spike goes out, and he gets completely roughed up, and then next episode, he’s sort of clean again. We staged it where Spike has a closet on the Bebop where he opens the closet, and there’s a whole line of blue suits. That’s what you buy into with costume. It’s part of who they are. If they change out of that, there’s a reason. There are a few moments where characters are in a different costume, and there’s a reasoning behind that. But they come back to that signature costume as a place of comfort.

Spencer: The last character that we’re going to want to talk about is Vicious. I loved his black suiting. It’s, I think, one of my favorites.

Jane: When you look at the anime, you’re trying to work out what something is. It can be difficult because, a lot of the time, it’s pretty abstract. There was reference; you can see the design lines that come from the images of the anime. There’s a theatricality to him in the tailcoat that I interpreted.

I tried to find a musical kind of resonance with everybody. I found myself in a bit of a punk world with Viscious, but more heightened and stylized. I ended up drawing from real-life for Viscious by looking at the Antwerp six, such as Ann Demeulemeester, all amazing designers.

When Alex put on that costume, I wanted him to feel the power of the costume. Vicious has that straight leg and these big boots with this beautifully tailored coat. It’s got movement to it, so when he fights, there’s movement. The detailing of the chains that hold the coat together, they were made by our in-house jewelers.

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

He’s got a trophy buckle as well. His trophy buckle has the cormorant because, in the anime, he always has a cormorant on his shoulder. So I took that cormorant and put it into his costume and on his ring as well. 

Spencer: This has been so much fun, and I’ve had such a good time talking with you. I feel like I’ve learned so much, and I just feel like rewatching the series now. What can we see you doing in the future? 

Jane: I hope for a second season! There’s so much ground to break. The second season is always where it feels like you start to take flight. I mean, you’ve got a warehouse full of stuff, a whole load of reference. It’s such a fun show. I mean the world-building… just oh my God! We had so much fun mixing vintage pieces, mixing different eras. There’s so much more that I want to do with Cowboy Bebop if I have the opportunity!

Spencer: It’s almost like every episode is its own movie. There’s always something different. World-building sounds like an understatement to me. 

Jane: It’s a crazy train! It is exactly like that. It’s like doing movie after movie, and it just doesn’t stop. That’s traveling as well. This is the fun part of it, to create the look of that world. 

Outside of Cowboy Bebop, we’re just finishing off this beautiful half-hour drama piece, which is a Māori supernatural story. Filmmaking and storytelling on a much more personal level, which I’m interested in doing as well. So I’ve kind of got this other little world alongside my career as a costume designer. 

There’s a film that’s just come out in New Zealand called Juniper with Charlotte Rampling in it. There’s always some storytelling to do. 

Spencer: Jane, thank you so much for joining me. This has been a lovely interview, and I’m really happy and excited for you. Cowboy Bebop was incredible, and the costumes, peak storytelling! I just want to thank you for your work on this project.

Jane: It was really great meeting you and nice to talk about the process. The creative process is such a fun thing. I mean, that’s the beauty of it. 

The live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop is now available on Netflix!

Holidate – The Art of Costume Blogcast

Holidate – S1.E22

Afraid of being alone during the holidays? Never fear, The Art of Costume Blogcast is here! In this week’s episode, Elizabeth and Spencer watch the Netflix original starring Emma Roberts, Holidate. Listen along as our cohosts talk about the festive costume design by Helen Huang, Sloane’s holiday wardrobe, and least favorite gifts. And yes… a majority of this episode is dedicated to Kristin Chenoweth, as it rightfully should be!

The Art of Costume Blogcast

Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and wherever you get your podcasts!

From India Sweets and Spices to Paranormal Activity: An Interview with Costume Designer Whitney Anne Adams

Look, I know it is almost time for the holidays, but I miss Halloween. So you could probably imagine my excitement (or dread) when I saw the words “Paranormal Activity” pop up in my inbox. As I started to prepare for this interview, I quickly realized, this was a costume designer after my own heart! Whitney Anne Adams, the brilliant costume designer behind so many horror films of recent date such as Happy Death Day 2U, Piercing, Freaky, and most recently, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin. Plus, Whitney has a new film now in theaters, called India Sweets and Spices.

I was honored to meet Whitney for an interview about her fascinating beginnings, friendship with Eiko Ishioka (yeah you read that right), horror films, Paranormal Activity, India Sweets and Spices, and so much more!

Spencer: Whitney, I am so excited to speak with you finally. I’ve been following you forever, so this interview feels long overdue. Plus, I’m having a hard time putting spooky season behind me.

Whitney: Right! Me too!

Spencer: This couldn’t happen at a better time. Before we get into all of the great projects you have been working on, I would first love to hear a little bit about your journey to becoming a costume designer.

Whitney: It’s funny because I was a complete jock in high school. I was all sports, no fashion. I was even captain of my golf team. But I was in theater and the drama class all through high school. So I loved it, but I had horrible stage fright; I loved the theater, and I couldn’t square the two. It’s like, I love this, but I hate being on stage. 

Moulin Rouge! (2001) – Costume Design by Catherine Martin. Courtesy of Everett

I was really sick in high school, and I had to get a bunch of organs removed. When I was in the hospital, waiting for the surgery that would save my life, I watched Moulin Rouge! over 300 times. I watched it every day to escape to this world where I wasn’t really sick. I just fell in love with the clothes and the visual world of that movie.

I then went to college, and I was pre-med. You know… because that makes sense.

Spencer:  *laughs* Right. We’ve all been there.

Whitney: I had to take chemistry and calculus, and then I could choose one fun class, and it was an intro to theater design. Well, I changed my major three weeks later, and I’ve never looked back. It just all sort of clicked into place. That was the beginning of my journey!

Spencer: At one point, you were acting as Liza Minnelli’s personal seamstress during this time. I also heard a crazy rumor that you were the personal seamstress of famed Oscar-winning costume designer Eiko Ishioka… I mean, is that true? 

Whitney: Absolutely true. I met her. I had just moved to New York. I answered a Craigslist ad for somebody needing a costume intern. And I was like, perfect. I just graduated from college, and I just thought, “I’m ready, put me in coach!” Then that designer, Camille Assaf, knew Tracy Roberts, Eiko’s studio manager; she knew that I was a tailor and put me in touch with her, and I ended up doing all sorts of tailoring for her.

India Sweets and Spices (2021) – Bleecker Street Media

I sewed tons of skirts. Her entire apartment was white, and she wanted a white TV cover to go over her TV so it wouldn’t take away from all of the other white things in her apartment. I also made seat cushions, and she was so exact on the seat cushions. I think I went through 12 different mock-ups before she was happy.

Spencer: I am OBSESSED with this. I am sure any regular person reading this is probably confused, but costume nerds like me are probably dying.

Whitney: I just loved the fact that literally, every single thing in her house was white. It was on the 73rd floor, I believe, right above the Russian Tea Room, looking out on Central Park, and it was absolutely beautiful.

She was working on Spider-Man at the time, so she had all of her Spider-Man renderings hung on the wall. It was all you could look at in her house because everything was stark white besides those renderings. So it was more of a focusing tactic for her, which was fascinating. That’s incredible.

Spencer: I love that. This is a vision I want to keep in my head forever.

Whitney: I worked for her for two years, and I remember every time I would come over, we would get our work done, and afterward, she would make a pot of green tea. We would sit at her table, and she would talk about stories from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Stories of Grace Jones and she would just tell me her life story over a pot of green tea every single time. 

Spencer: Absolutely beautiful. But then another dream seemed to come true for you because you ended up becoming the costume design assistant for four-time, Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin, who worked on Moulin Rouge!

Whitney: It was such a crazy moment in my life because she’s the reason I am a costume designer, and I also met her in a completely insane way. I won a costume design contest for the movie Australia. I had to design a costume for Nicole Kidman’s character. 

Spencer: Oh, you got this in the bag.

Whitney:  Well, I freaked out cause I didn’t put a hat on Nicole’s character. I was like, I’m not going to win. I didn’t put a hat on her. I won the whole contest. I won a trip to Australia. So I go to Australia, and I email Catherine’s website. Her assistant, Silvana, emailed me back and said, “Hey, do you want to come by? Catherine isn’t here, but you know, we can hang out.” So we had tea, and we are good friends now. I went back to New York, and two years passed by. 

Then in 2010, Baz Luhrmann was going to be the chairperson of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. I bought a ticket to the gala, and I emailed Silvana. I was like, “Hey, I happen to be going to the same gala. Can I meet them?.” She said she would set something up but then sent me an email an hour asking what I was up to? Six hours later, their producer in Australia called me and asked if I could work for them for three weeks? 

It was on the workshop for The Great Gatsby and those three weeks turned into working on and off for them for a decade. So they’re like my family now, and I adore them. It’s been a few years since we’ve gotten to work together, but I hope we get to do something again in the future.

Spencer: I love that. You just got to do what you got to do to get your foot in the door sometimes. Sometimes a little goes a long way, and now it’s been like a decade-long relationship, that is incredible. 

Whitney: They’re so generous are a huge reason why I have a career today. You know, I busted my butt on The Great Gatsby, and I learned so much. It was an incredible experience that I still pinch myself that actually happened. 

Spencer: That brings us today. I noticed that you’ve been working on a lot of horror and thriller projects lately. Are you a fan of horror, or did you just fall into it? 

Whitney: I’m a huge fan of horror. I remember I was Ghost Face for Halloween, like three Halloweens in a row, and scared people at my middle school, Halloween party by refusing to take the mask off. I was obsessed with the Fear Street series and every single teenage slasher novel that existed. So much so that my fourth-grade teacher called a parent-teacher conference.

Spencer: I could tell through your work that you have a love for horror. The first film I want to talk about is Freaky. Freaky stars Catherine Newton, Vince Vaughn, and my crush Misha Osherovich. It was so campy, fun, and so colorful. It was pretty fashionable too.

Whitney: I’m so proud of this movie. This is my second collab with writer and director Christopher Landon. One of my favorite people. We just decided from the get-go that everyone felt like a real developed character. Because that is one of the things that horror movies always run into.

Freaky (2020) – Blumhouse Productions

We wanted to make sure that everyone had a very distinct point of view. We don’t have time in the movie to dive into people’s backstories, so we wanted to tell everyone who they were through their clothes. Josh and Nyla have such a point of view. Millie; she’s trying to figure out who she is, especially pre-butcher. She’s wearing a hand-me-down sweater from her mom. Her dress is from the discount store. Every single piece in the movie has its backstory.

When it came to The Butcher and switching into Millie’s body, we wanted to figure out a storyline that made sense. Where did these clothes come from? So we figured that Millie’s older sister is a bit of a club-goer. She’s a police officer during the day, but she wants to let off steam at night. So when the butcher looks through Millie’s closet, he hates all of the grandma sweaters. He heads over to her sister’s closet and pulls out this leather jacket, black bodysuit, and these jeans. We wanted to make sure that it felt very genderless with a strong silhouette. 

Freaky (2020) – Blumhouse Productions

Spencer: It’s almost like the butcher was becoming a costume designer in the moment. Okay Whitney with the plot points!

Whitney: Right. I also want to make sure it was affordable for the family too. That jacket came from Amazon. It was a $180 leather jacket. So it’s attainable. I wanted to make sure that every single piece made sense. I don’t want to get some $5,000 jacket. It needs to be something that makes sense. 

Spencer: I love that. Ugh this movie was so fun, and yeah that red jacket… I mean, that jacket is going to stay with me for a long while. 

Whitney: I’m so happy about that. I know that Catherine and I wanted to create something as iconic as possible!

Spencer: Mission accomplished! Speaking of iconic, let talk about Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin. I’ll be honest, when I saw the words “Paranormal Activity” in my email inbox… I was kind of thinking “oh hellllll no”.

Whitney: *laughs* Right!!

Spencer: If there’s one horror movie that scares the absolute *redacted* out of me, it’s the Paranormal Activity series. Of course, I loved the film as always. It was quite the costume design heavy film as well! I hear that you had to travel to a real Amish farm that was in the middle of nowhere. 

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin – Blumhouse Productions

Whitney: Yeah. So that was so challenging! We were based in Buffalo, but we were filming five weeks on this farm. It was an actual vacated Amish farm about an hour and a half from Buffalo. So our closest hotels were about 45 minutes to an hour away from the farm. So were driving back and forth in the blizzard, in the mud, there are no lights in Amish country. 

Spencer: It was like you were living the movie every single day. Let’s dive into the cult that lives on Baylor farm who are passing as Amish. It appears you took a pretty authentic approach to designing their costumes. I mean, they came off to me as Amish up until the last 10 minutes of the movie.

Whitney: You’re like, whoa, what happened now? That was the main goal, to make them as Amish to the outside world as possible. They don’t want anyone coming close to them. This cult, they’re actually the good guys. They’re striving for as much authenticity as possible, but when they’re at their farm, they can let their guard down a little. So, they can do things that are not necessarily Amish.

Whitney Anne Adams and Assistant Costume Designer, Lauren Driskill

I wanted to also use that same idea that with what they wear. For example, vests are usually not worn except for church or ceremonial purposes. So we added those into the film because that is not how the Amish wear vests. Then for the men we uses  hundred percent cotton. When it comes to the real Amish, almost everything that they have has polyester in it because of the lower drying time. It’s easier to take care of and lasts longer. But for me, I wanted to do all of the sorts of wear and tear,aging and distressing. This cult, they go to the outside world as little as possible so their clothes show more wear.

Spencer: That is incredible. I love that through costume design, people may notice these little clues that were there the entire time.

Whitney: Right, that they’re not exactly as they seem. So there are little things like that, that we put in there to show that they’re not actually Amish. But, still made it as close as possible. For example, all of our suspenders were made by a local Buffalo leather maker so it’s as close as we possibly can get it.

Spencer: Unfortunately for you, I am a considerable aging and dying fan. So I have to ask you to give me a little window into what was happening here.

Whitney: I knew going into this project, it was going to be such a process. I needed someone who could take this stuff down and it’s really tough. Every single piece in this movie was distressed and aged. The women are wearing bloomers and underskirts plus their dresses, capes and caps. The men have their broad fall pants and their shirts, vests, coats and hats. I mean, everyone has so much stuff, thousands of pieces! I had a lead ager and dyer, Jessica Wegrzyn, who’s the absolute best. She’s such a dreamboat, and was working so hard all day, every day, to make sure everyone looked as distressed as I wanted them to be.

I want it to show the wear and tear that they’ve experienced on this farm because they are so isolated. Every single piece had like a six-step process. It just took forever, and of course, we didn’t have enough lead time. We also brought in another ager and dyer to help, Troy David, who was incredible. The last week of prep, the first week of filming, we were just aging and dying like maniacs. We didn’t finish aging and dying until our last day of filming. She was also a costumer as well so she was doing double duty. I owe so much of this movie to her. 

Spencer: That is an insane amount of work, I am exhausted for you. Towards the end of the film, things start to spiral out of control. It’s funny, I had to go back and watch this part again before we talked because the first time, I had my eyes closed. I thought… uh oh I didn’t even see that part!

*Spencer and Whitney laugh together*

Spencer: This costume that Lavina is wearing, it appears to be a ceremonial robe. It stands out amongst all the other costumes.

Whitney: I wish that we got to see it a little better because for me, it’s the most important costume in the movie because it helps tie together the history of group. We learn that they descended from a Norwegian town. I wanted to sort of dip into Pagan and Wiccan mythology and take symbols that made sense to our story.

All of her veils are embroidered with this gold thread. We wanted to make it look like both this red robe and veil had been passed down through generations. So we wanted everything to look really old and worn. All of the symbols were very representative of the story like the main symbols we use for the triple goddess where you have the waxing full moon and waning –  three stages of womanhood, which is what happens to the women in this culture, the ones who have to carry Asmodeus. 

The Witches Knot is the symbol of protection. Especially because the whole knot symbol, you don’t have to lift your pen. So it’ like this long line of protection, which is what happens with this long line of women through this family.

Then the Seal of Solomon is also there. I made it a pentagram instead of The Star of David, which is how it is sometimes represented in history. The Seal of Solomon was used by King Solomon to defeat Asmodeus. 

Spencer: I love the attention to detail and the story behind it. It made the film really, real. It made me want to do some research too.

Whitney: It was great to dive into all of that and you know, Lavina also has this ring. That’s the triple goddess ring. She wears that the whole movie, but you don’t really get a good glimpse of it. She’s also covered in these tattoos, which you don’t see because she’s fully covered in her Amish clothing. This entire outfit was made by our tailor, Dana Calanan, who was absolutely incredible in making this robe come to life. 

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin – Blumhouse Productions

Spencer: I’m sad to move on from Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin but me must. Let’s talk about your new film that is quite different than anything we have talked about today. India Sweets and Spices, now out in theateres everywhere! I’m very excited about this one. The film is about a college freshman returning home to her Indian American community for the summer. She discovers secrets and lies in her parents’ past. That makes her question everything. I’m hearing that you only had four weeks of prep for this project?

Whitney: It was wild! I got a call on a Wednesday, got the job on a Friday, and was in Atlanta on by Monday. Idove headfirst into this movie, learning the culture. I immersed myself in it from day one. Luckily our writer, director Geeta Malik was so wonderful. She walked me through her vision for this specific community. It’s not the same for every Indian American community, but we wanted to make her own rules for this community, which is similar to what she grew up in. 

We had five giant parties with all of these wealthy families. Everyone had so many costume changes, both day wear and party wear, full of traditional Indian dress. Then we had distinctions. Elderly women and married women wear saris. All of the younger ladies wore a combination of Lehenga Choli, Anarkali, and Salwar Kameez. This was very important to Geeta, to separate the aunties from the younger, unmarried women. Then the men are all in American suits. 

Our family who owns the local Indian grocery store who gets invited to this party, they’re all wearing traditional Indian dress and are not as embellished as everyone. It makes this big dichotomy between the two groups. We really wanted to use those pieces, textures and patterns to separate the different groups.

Spencer: Funny enough, you seem to have approached this film much like Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin. That authentic, dedicated approach to familiarizing yourself with the culture. For example, perfecting your Sari skills, the craft and the tradition of it all. 

Whitney: Exactly. It’s funny how every movie you approach has the same amount of subject matter. I think you’re completely right, I approached the Amish community in the same way I approached this Indian-American community. I’m an outsider. How do I learn as much as possible and make it as authentic as possible because I want to be true to all of these groups? Luckily with Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin and the Amish community, I could make up my own rules because they’re not traditionally Amish, but this was very important for me to get this right.

India Sweets and Spices (2021) – Bleecker Street Media

It was such a joy, and it was so fun. Luckily, Atlanta has a huge Indian community, and they have great malls there. So that was helpful! 

Spencer: Well, I honestly cannot wait to see this movie. It looks so fun, and I’m just really excited to follow along with you and your career. Funny enough, the ghosts are not leaving us because you just wrapped an exciting new project with some heavy-hitting actors and actresses like Jennifer Coolidge. 

Whitney: I love her. I love her so much. We Have a Ghost has been a big journey. I got to New Orleans in May, and we just finished our 65 shooting days schedule yesterday. We’ve survived COVID, a hurricane, etc. It has been a journey. I was getting through it all with such incredible actors. I mean, I absolutely love Jennifer Coolidge, David Harbour, Anthony Mackie, Jackie Winston, they’re just incredible people and so, I was lucky that we were able to survive this all together.

Spencer: Oh, man! Well, I’m excited about this one. Sounds like we’ll probably be talking very soon. Thank you so much for joining me! 

Whitney: Thank you for having me. This has been such a blast.

India Sweets and Spices is now in theaters! Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is available on Paramount+

The Office: Holiday Special with Carey Bennett- The Art of Costume Blogcast

The Office: Holiday Special with Carey Bennett – S1.E21

The holiday season is here, and what better way to get into the holiday spirit than hanging out with Michael Scott and the rest of the Dunder Mifflin gang! That’s right, in this week’s special episode, our co-hosts are watching The Office. Specifically, Season 2 Episode 10, Christmas Party, and Season 3 Episodes 10 and 11, A Benihana Christmas. Costume designer for the first four seasons of The Office, Carey Bennett, joins the podcast to talk about her experience on the show and creating these classic holiday wardrobes! Stay tuned until the very end of the episode, where you will learn about an opportunity to score one of the famous garments seen within these episodes.

The Art of Costume Blogcast

Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and wherever you get your podcasts!