It's only been a few months since Lena Dunham's television show "Girls" aired, but the high praise, countless op-eds and interviews prove that this new show is here to stay. Not only is this series celebrated for it's witty one-liners and thought-provoking script, but it is also noted for it's incredible costumes -- you can't think of Season 1 without recalling union suits, kimonos and feathered dresses. Season 2 is almost upon us (it airs this Sunday on HBO), and before we get absorbed by awkward sex scenes, unpaid internships and crazy outfits, we wanted to catch up with one of the most important "Girls" team members, costume designer Jenn Rogien. We chatted with Rogien to find out what it's like dressing Lena Dunham and where she finds those killer ensembles. Here's what she had to say:
Can you talk about each character and how their personality is reflected in their sense of style? Hannah, for example, what do you think about when you are dressing her?
We take a lot of things into account. Hannah has a color palette, which was a result of early inspiration. It's a vintage color palette, it looks a little late '60s, early '70s, avocado greens and mustard yellows and rust, sort of out of date colors and that reflects that she's not quite up on the trends. We found some silhouettes that worked really well on her through the first season, and we tend to go back to those silhouettes because they do help to emphasis some of the awkward nature of Hannah's character. They don't quite hit at the right place -- we mess with the hems lengths so they're not exactly the best or most flattering length. We don't press her clothes, so that they aren't completely put together. All of those little things help to add up to the girl we know as Hannah.
Part of what's appealing about Hannah is that she is more representative of the "average American woman's size." So you're saying that you intentionally seek out ways to make her clothes unflattering and not necessarily great for her shape?
Yeah, some of those things that we are doing are intentional. They are to play the emotion of the scene. You know she is a character, so we're using the costume to help support her emotional journey and sometimes that means having things dwarf her a little bit, or be intentionally awkwardly fitting because that's helping to drive the emotion, support the story and reflect what's going on.
Now let's move on to Marnie. She's sort of the put-together character, what's the process there?
You hit it, she's sort of our more polished, put-together girl. She is a working girl, so we wanted to come up with something that would reflect that. Her colors are a little bit more classic, her silhouettes are more classic, her accessories are more classic and that was all an effort to come up with a look that works for a young professional who's not necessarily in a corporate environment, and still keep it youthful but have it look like she is trying really hard to put together something that she thinks is work appropriate.
And then Shoshanna. Tell me a bit about her?
She's our flirty girl. She's a college student. She's still figuring out her romantic arrangements and her friendships, so a lot of her wardrobe helps reflect that. It's light-hearted colors, fun hemlines, shorter lengths -- it's very feminine and that is all to support her character traits as she plays on screen.
And then my personal favorite, Jessa. How do you get her to look completely normal (and chic) in a kimono in the middle of the day?
It is a little bit of TV magic, and the character can pull it off and that's part of it right there. There are girls in the world who can do that and Jessa happens to be one of them. We find things that are very eclectic and sometimes downright odd but still have an elegance to them. Yes, it's a kimono but it's kind of this perfectly odd vintage looking kimono so it works in a strange way and that's sort of the thorough line for her wardrobe. The accessories are very eclectic, very traveled if you will. They are from all over the world or imported from Afghanistan and Morocco, and when you pile that on top of the weird kimono, it is automatically sort of taken out of normal everyday casual wear.
And where do you shop for the characters? Do you shop at different spots for each girl?
We really go all over. Hannah is so much vintage and thrift that we really do go right to the vintage and thrift stores all over, whether it's Williamsburg or Fort Greene or Clinton Hill or even Manhattan. She is our vintage thrifty girl. And then Jessa is true vintage, so we look to vintage resources and flea markets. I source a lot of her jewelry through Tibetan stores, there's a great one in my neighborhood. We [also] go to the Brooklyn Flea -- her stuff is more collected. With Shoshanna and Marnie we do a little bit more retail shopping for them, but we mix so much together that there isn't one store that we run to for any given character.
Are there any outfits that stand out from last season? Do you have three favorites?
Yes. I'm going to go down for Jessa's wedding dress.
I was hoping you would say that. What's the story behind that piece, is it vintage?
Yes, it's a gorgeous vintage piece. I made the headpiece out of vintage flowers. I made the veil out of vintage gold mesh. Then she's got blue underwear as sort of a cheeky nod to tradition and blue shoes as a sort of embrace of tradition and also a complete breaking of tradition. So there were a lot of character elements in that costume that I thought were great, as well it just being a great look. It was an all-around hit for me.
And your other two?
I am going to go with Hannah's plaid dress when she meets Elijah at the bar where she is wearing a ridiculous fruit necklace. The dress was Hannah's effort at getting dressed up. At the time we all thought that was incredibly well put-together for Hannah, and looking back I realize that it is not quite as dressed up as we thought it was at the time, which is really rewarding for me to look back and think wow, that was really a character moment for her. She was really trying to pull it together to go have this meeting. And the necklace is a vintage piece, it's actually from my collection. It's something I wore when I was about Hannah's age, embarrassingly enough.
That's awesome! And then your last look?
Yes, please tell me about the union suits?
Well that was a scripted moment and we went out looking for vintage union suits, and of course, we needed two that would match and that's getting tougher and tougher to find because they just don't exist anymore. We ended up going to Vermont Country Store which does a lot of reproductions -- they do amazing specialty things, they're just an amazing costume resource -- and they happened to have two that were the best fit. So we took them and aged them, distressed them, dyed them, stained them, to make it look like Adam had had them knocking around for quite a while. I was a little hesitant at first with the potentially [unflattering] garment playing for such a large amount of screen time, but it worked. It worked for the moment that those two characters are having where they are truly coming together for the first time. And that, for me, is the perfect costume moment.
I noticed that you didn't mention Jessa's amazing feathered outfit that she wore in the crack accident episode ...
That would probably be number five. That one we actually did make for the show. It was inspired by a dress that Jemima owns that was from the '30s, and my fear was that the original dress would not make it through a day of shooting because it's quite old and in fragile condition. So I redesigned it a little bit, tweaked it a little bit, got some new fabric to pick up light for camera and that feather piece is actually a vest that can be separated from the dress. [And that] was great for production reasons so she didn't have to be stuck in this feather concoction for a 12-hour shooting day, but also there were a couple of scenes that were more intimate that having the feathers there would be really distracting, so having the ability to lose it and not have anyone miss it was a real bonus for production and for creative reasons.
I can't wait to see what other crazy wardrobe choices are in store for next season. I have to admit, I've probably watched the Season 2 trailer 17 times, and there is one scene where Hannah looks to be in some horrendous yellow top, can we get some details on that?
You are going to have to tune in, there's a whole story line around it and boy am I not going to be the one to release the spoiler.
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