Think pink

Fab­u­lous fash­ion of Mrs. Maisel more than at­tire

The London Free Press - - FASHION - BROOKE LEFFERTS

NEW YORK — Fans of The Mar­velous Mrs. Maisel know the show’s clothes de­liver eye­pop­ping colour and to-die-for style, but they might not know the cos­tumes rep­re­sent more than 1950s cou­ture.

They also re­flect each char­ac­ter’s mood and de­vel­op­ment.

Cos­tume de­signer Donna Zakowska said she thought about how each char­ac­ter changed from Sea­son 1 of the hit show to Sea­son 2, which pre­miered on Ama­zon Prime Video in De­cem­ber.

Zakowska started out study­ing paint­ing at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, which in­stilled a “very strong re­sponse to colour,” she said in a re­cent in­ter­view, and that in­flu­enced her ap­proach in cos­tume de­sign.

One of her first de­ci­sions was putting lead char­ac­ter Midge Maisel, played by Rachel Bros­na­han, in a baby pink coat in the first sea­son when she is mar­ried and seem­ingly happy.

“I do feel that colour sig­nals things to peo­ple, and you know I don’t take it for granted,” Zakowska said.

“I love do­ing it, and I put a lot of ef­fort into re­ally work­ing with the pal­ette and work­ing with the colours. It started with that pink coat, but that be­came sort of a char­ac­ter­is­tic of who Midge was when I first started. But when Midge’s hus­band leaves her, her char­ac­ter puts on dif­fer­ent, darker colours.

“I ba­si­cally did this with most of the char­ac­ters, and it’s a lit­tle bit nat­u­ral in a way be­cause I do think that there is this emo­tional re­sponse that is in­her­ent in colour,” Zakowska said.

Bros­na­han said while the sec­ond sea­son is full of “ex­cep­tional clothes,” the out­fits aren’t just eye candy. Zakowska helps shape the nar­ra­tive with her de­signs.

“She’s a sto­ry­teller. And she dives just as deeply, if not more deeply in some ways, than we do into these char­ac­ters, into their arcs, into the sto­ries, into the set­tings, into ev­ery­thing that came be­fore and is yet to come.”

“She is a mad sci­en­tist,” Maisel cre­ator Amy Sher­man-Pal­ladino said in a re­cent in­ter­view.

“She doesn’t be­lieve a hat is a hat. You know, a hat is char­ac­ter. It’s a per­son. That hat needs to re­flect where the per­son is in­ter­nally. She started it last year with (the pink coat) and when Joel (Mr. Maisel) left, the pink coat left, be­cause the pink coat rep­re­sented who she was with Joel. And then pink went away for a while, and when pink started to come back, it was a dif­fer­ent kind of pink be­cause she was a dif­fer­ent kind of woman. (Zakowska’s) just a very fas­ci­nat­ing, bril­liant per­son.”

Zakowska said she leads a crew of at least 25 peo­ple on set to dress the prin­ci­pal play­ers and the ex­tras in hun­dreds of cos­tume changes.

She pays strict at­ten­tion to de­tail, even for day play­ers, who of­ten wear 1950s out­fits found in vin­tage stores or on the in­ter­net.

But most of the clothes worn by the prin­ci­pal char­ac­ters are de­signed by Zakowska.

Not all the clothes are fun to wear. Zakowska said one of the most im­por­tant ac­ces­sories on the show is the un­der­wear — which had to be tight and sup­port­ive, even for the ex­tras.

“It’s like re­ally the end of the era of the corset ... that’s some­thing you re­ally can’t avoid. We can’t all have pe­riod bras, but we worked with Play­tex and they had a cer­tain bra they cre­ated for us that we used. And so you do to a de­gree have to sort of pull women in, you know, bring the bust up ... there’s no way around it, oth­er­wise we couldn’t get peo­ple into those dresses.”

The sec­ond sea­son pro­vides much deeper in­sight into the char­ac­ters, like Midge’s mother, Rose, who leaves her up­tight life in Man­hat­tan and takes off to Paris, which Zakowska re­lays in colour and style.

“In Sea­son 1, I talked about the idea of her be­ing like in a lit­tle Chanel suit or be­ing the per­fect mother on the Up­per West Side. Now her power has re­ally taken on ... these deep pur­ple and deep red tones, sort of very in­tense, ro­man­tic pal­ette. And so what she’s re­ally do­ing is re­vis­it­ing that bo­hemian stu­dent life when she be­gins Sea­son 2. And so it was re­ally im­por­tant to heighten her pal­ette and to work with those colours, and I think they’re very Parisian,” Zakowska said.

Marin Hin­kle, who plays Rose, said wear­ing the cos­tumes helped her get into char­ac­ter.

“The first sea­son Rose had a kind of muted qual­ity,” Hin­kle said. “And then by the sec­ond sea­son they dressed me in these more vi­brant colours and more youth­ful styles. And that dic­tates a kind of way you can be as a per­former where you lit­er­ally are putting some­thing on and sort of 90 per cent of the work is done.”

Tony Shal­houb, who plays Rose’s hus­band, said of Zakowska’s de­signs, “It’s al­most like the clothes are a char­ac­ter them­selves and ... it’s like the clothes are speak­ing to us through us.

“I’m al­ways sort of jazzed and en­er­gized by that,” he said.

I do think that there is this emo­tional re­sponse that is in­her­ent in colour. Donna Zakowska


Cos­tume de­signer Donna Zakowska, left, dresses ac­tress Rachel Bros­na­han for The Mar­velous Mrs. Maisel, us­ing colour to show changes in her char­ac­ter. The com­edy-drama, set in the 1950s, fol­lows a housewife who dis­cov­ers she has what it takes to be a standup co­me­dian.


Cos­tume de­signer Donna Zakowska cre­ates orig­i­nal pieces for most of the prin­ci­pal char­ac­ters in The Mar­velous Mrs. Maisel now in sea­son 2.

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