Decoding The Hidden Messages In ‘Insecure’s’ Fashion With The Show’s Costume Designer
When i spoke with Ayanna James, costume designer for salvatore ferragamo milan airport Insecure, days before the second season of the collection premiered on HBO, our conversation touched on all of our favorite characters. When she talked about that one among her goals when costuming Molly Carter, finest pal to Issa Dee and excessive-powered lawyer, is to elicit a “wow, I actually wish to gown like her” reaction from viewers, I thought for a second about interjecting. Molly is certainly The Vogue Girl of this group of associates, with a wardrobe that we all may placed on a temper board titled My Most Fashionable Self, however James’ true reward has been making nearly the whole lot that she puts these characters in, from tees to sweatshirts to fits, the stuff of wardrobe envy and inspiration.
We seem to only get a seminal comedy series about black feminine friendship as soon as a decade, within the 90s we had Dwelling Single and in the 2000s, Girlfriends, and James was dedicated to serving to make the world of these ladies, the kind of girls whom we don’t typically get to see entrance and center on our television and pc screens, full, complex, and layered. From the second the pilot opens, James’ work does exactly what good costuming should. It aids, amplifies, and moves ahead the story being instructed without overshadowing it. The clothes tell us something about who Issa, Molly, and Lawrence are and where they are by immersing us in their world.
After we meet Issa Dee, she is standing in entrance of a room of wildly judgmental center schoolers. That form of gauntlet is the stuff of nightmares but this is no dream sequence. This is Issa’s job. Issa’s “very insecure and her wardrobe sort of reflects that. She hasn’t really discovered her footing,” James mentioned of the character in that first scene. Although we don’t realize it on the time, this look, We Received Y’all Tee with a brand of James’ design, vintage Levi’s, and Solange Knowles for Puma sneakers, is something of a uniform for Issa when she is out in the sector with the kids.
She isn’t a trend woman, at least not in the same means as her greatest friend, Molly, however she is making an attempt. The topper, a boldly coloured, printed piece that lives someplace between blazer and oversized cardigan, makes that effort apparent, and it truly got here straight from James’ own closet. “I wore it to the interview when i met with Melina [Matsoukas]. She was like ‘I love that! Carry that again!’” James told me. But the rest of the look is inspired by the woman who brings the character to life. “We needed it to type of be true to Issa Dee and pull elements from Issa Rae. Issa Rae, on a day-to-day,” James mentioned, “she’s dressed fairly very like that, a jacket, blazer, a cardigan, some denims, a t-shirt. So we took her type and simply elevated it.”
Molly Carter is taking part in a distinct career recreation from her best buddy, and very like Issa’s iffy footing is instantly obvious, so is Molly’s nearly flawless navigation of the legal world. And it’s not just because we don’t must cringe by means of her getting heckled by a room stuffed with tweens. “White folks love Molly. And black individuals looove Molly,” Issa says in voiceover as Molly Carter greets the audience, first commanding a meeting after which dominating a sport of dominoes. Her confidence shines by means of not solely the way during which she slams down that closing tile but also within the look that she does it in. In discussing Molly, James started to checklist a few of the most popular brands round. Molly wears Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen. She carries a Salvatore Ferragamo briefcase and wears Fendi heels. And even without the introductory phrases of her finest friend, we will see that she is a master of code switching. “Molly even code switches in the way in which she dresses,” James said.
Not solely on the office, the place her mild-coloured palette demonstrates how she is “trying to slot in and go beneath the radar but [also] stand out,” as James put it, but also in her dating life. “When she’s out, I kind of made her a bit darker to give distinction from how she is at work. Because at work she has it all together, but in her courting life she tries to make it seem like she has all of it collectively however she doesn’t.” At first glance, the Stella McCartney and Opening Ceremony and Jonathan Simkhai dresses that she wears when assembly males from relationship apps or attending a disastrous engagement get together with Chris, a character performed by Jidenna, wouldn’t make clear all of the ways in which Molly thinks she’s failing at discovering someone.
However that is what James has performed. She has taken the central tenet of the collection, the varied insecurities that all of us feel about adulthood, friendships, and our romantic lives, and translated every character’s struggles into palette and fabric and silhouette.
This ability is most obvious in her work with the character of Lawrence. He greets us on a sofa, a couch he has been on for years, and James put Lawrence in 3X t-shirts and 3X sweatpants. She did this partly to point out how little Lawrence cares about his appearance, and much of something really, and partly to mask the thirst-inducing physique of Jay Ellis until it was time for Lawrence to finish his full aesthetic transformation. “I gave [Ellis] some socks and that i informed [him] to go stroll round outside in order that they’d be dirty.” She aged the Georgetown tees that he wears. From head to toe, we will see that he has given up and in flip we perceive why it is that Issa has began to surrender on him. However the changes he makes, with the assistance of the costuming arc that James created for him, make us realize that we might have been hasty in our judgement.
“[B]y the time we get to episode four the place he and Issa have recommitted to one another,” James stated, “he’s interviewing, so he’s pulling out all these old suits which can be just just a little in poor salvatore ferragamo milan airport health-fitted. But, you understand, he’s making an attempt. He’s going to do this.” James caps the transformation with the Vivienne Westwood suit that Lawrence wears to the We Bought Y’all fundraiser, a sartorial indicator of his getting his life collectively. She places Lawrence at his sharpest proper before all the pieces he made the changes for falls apart.
Because the sequence moves into season two, James continues her exemplary work. We’ll see the fleshing out of the type stories of Kelli and Tiffany. Molly, coping with the revelation that she is being paid less than her while, male colleague, “immediately goes into survival mode and her palette darkens,” James mentioned however still with the “crisp, sleek, body aware forms” that we now know as pure Molly.
Lawrence and Issa might be coping with being with out one another. “What does a man seem like when he will get his heart broken He’s buys some new shoes. He gets a haircut,” James said. Extra particularly James might be drawing from Ellis’ personal love of sneakers to up Lawrence’s shoe sport. In season two, “Issa’s model is simply on the market. She’s trying to catch. You gonna see some leg. You gonna see some cleavage,” James stated. She purchased some present season looks for the courting but nonetheless pining Issa however principally she wanted it to seem like Issa was reexamining the clothing she already owned. She’s dealing along with her turbulent life by rediscovering part of herself that had become hidden. We see it at her occasion, in a dress with, pores and skin baring, Molly-reminiscent cut outs down the middle.
We see it when she goes in quest of Lawrence at Chad’s house in a tight pencil skirt that leads Chad to ask Lawrence if “old lady” always regarded like that. And we see it because the second episode comes to a detailed with Issa looking at the empty house in her closet left by Lawrence’s now absent clothes and filling it with those forgotten pieces of herself. Items that, with James’ deft hand, shall be as covetable and narratively revealing as ever.