The costume designer of Now Apocalypse and Dead to Me agrees the world needs more color.
The costumes for Starz’s Now Apocalypse are my favorite design of the entire season. I said it! There’s something for everyone in that series that’s unexpected and colorful–just like the show itself. There is so much texture and variety in those costumes that you feel gobsmacked by every stylish character that struts on screen. But then you turn on Netflix and Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are styled so perfectly to handle their grief in Dead to Me. It’s shocking to find out that Trayce Gigi Field designed both shows, and they couldn’t be more different from one another.
Now Apocalypse is a playground where anything can happen, so Field was obviously given a lot of room to play. Ulysses and Carly don’t have a ton of money, but they look incredible. Nothing is boring. The show itself is fantastical and over-the-top, but the costumes don’t ever feel out of place. It’s not as if they don’t belong. Dead to Me is the complete opposite, because of how it’s grounded in reality–Applegate’s costume design reveals a woman who is continuing to grieve the death of her husband. The color palettes from both shows exist on different ends of the spectrum.
Both shows have their serious themes, but the characters’ arcs can be traced through the clothes they wear. We need to embrace riskier choices in what we put on our bodies. If we love a show a lot, it can inspire us to make different choices in our lives–and that should start with what we put on our bodies every morning. Trying something different or out of our comfort zone might change our perspective.
I feel like I should be thanking you for not putting a lot of clothes on the Beau Mirchoff’s Ford…
Everyone loves him! He’s so great.
I absolutely adore both of your shows this season. I’m kind of obsessed with Now Apocalypse, and I just finished Dead to Me very recently.
They’re veeeery different.
That they are! The world of Now Apocalypse is very colorful and vibrant, and the characters all feel like they have a great sense of style. Can you tell us what it’s like to design for a show where everyone looks so great?
The wonderful thing about Gregg Araki is that he lets an artist be an artist which I, of course, love. We did a movie called Kaboom together.
Oh, I love Kaboom.
Me too. It’s so much fun. What we wanted to do was the same heightened sense of color and fun. We took the palette of Kaboom and went even further with it.
Severine gets to wear a lot of darker colors and bigger, more dramatic clothes. I love that black dress she wears with the big collar.
With the ruff?
Yes! Was her fashion mainly influenced by her being French?
Yes, of course. She’s French and serious and sexy. We wanted to use a color palette that was more of a shade of her personality. She’s sexy and that should be reflected through what she wears. That ruff was something that I custom made to enhance her dress and make a visual impact. If you see her walk into a Palm Springs party like that, you want to know who she is.
Just adds to the mystery of her.
I am obsessed with Uly’s feathered jacket.
Aren’t we all?
I want it right now. Where can I find it?
It’s actually a vintage piece. It’s one of those things where you come across it and you think, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to make this work but I will make it work.’ I’m sorry I can’t tell you where to go to find one!
I guess I’ll just have to keep my eyes out for one.
Yes, you will.
How did you go about designing the lizard alien suit? I saw the sketches of it on your site and thought that we can’t not talk about that suit.
Gregg had a movie called Nowhere—I’m not sure if you’ve seen that?
It’s like the one Gregg Araki movie I haven’t seen.
It’s basically a take on that alien. We were going to update it and make it more current. The sketch that’s on the site is about the third or fourth one in. I did a circle. It started with looking at Nowhere and then I started looking at other kinds of aliens and I found reptiles that were large. I found pictures of reptiles and I wanted to make a large version of those into the suit. It’s kind of a meld between the reptiles that I found and the Nowhere alien. We did have to include that circular addition…
Yeah, I guess that’s something you can’t avoid. What the alien does to several of the characters is a big plot point.
Just a corkscrew penis.
Add it to the resume!
Now Apocalypse is very vibrant, but Dead to Me deals with grief and mourning. I noticed that Christina Applegate wears a lot of dark blues and blacks. She’s obviously still grieving for her husband. Do you think Jen was more colorful before her husband died?
When you really think about Jen as a character, you have to think that she was lighter. She did wear a red suit on her billboard to advertise for her real estate company. I like to think of the arc. When things were better in her marriage, she probably wore a lot more color. In the latter part of her marriage, things weren’t great, but she is supposed to be strong and serious and edgy. We did use those strong tones to show that through her clothing.
I have seen a lot of people talking about how much they love Linda Cardellini’s wardrobe. Someone even referred to her as a style icon.
I know! It’s so exciting.
She wears a lot of patterns and floral print. Her character is really emotional and she feels like she’s on the verge of breaking at any moment. Was that energy fun to incorporate into her wardrobe?
For sure. She’s kind of this woo woo free spirited anyway. We wanted to incorporate highs and lows. You have to think that her rich fiancé probably bought her some pieces, so she has some expensive things but then she goes to Goodwill. It gives her that cool, 70’s inspired look. With women over 40, you want to find something that sets you apart–even if you don’t know you’re doing it. You want to have your own sense of style, and I feel like we really accomplished that with Judy.
You do a lot of modern costume design, and I’m always curious if you feel there is an under appreciation for designs that aren’t period or over-the-top? Clothes for period pieces are gorgeous, yes, but I love seeing a character—who is living in the here and now—evolve through what they’re wearing.
I do feel like sometimes modern designs are underrated. When I select a project to work on, I try to really hard to make sure very character is unique in their own way. Even if it’s just jewelry or something particular they always wear or their silhouette. I would love a deeper appreciation for the art we give people in contemporary pieces. If you get the character really right, people will get it and understand it and want to wear it. That’s so important. Of course, everything looks amazing on Game of Thrones because it’s something that people would never wear nowadays.
You finished working on AJ and the Queen where you get to dress RuPaul. Did you feel any pressure dressing an icon?
Oh, RuPaul…I have to say that he is the nicest and I really enjoyed working with him. Sometimes I would walk in with a jacket or a coat and his responses would be so fun. It was a lot of pressure, but Ru knows clothes. He was really excited by the clothes I brought in. It was rewarding because once you see it, you’ll know it was all worth it.
I always like asking costume designers what piece they would swipe from the set. Is there anything—from either Now Apocalypse or Dead to Me—that you’d want hanging in you closet?
Oh my god…Carly has this jumpsuit with crazy bright colors. It kind of looks like a jigsaw puzzle with every color in the rainbow. If I could just wear that, I would. It has these pumps that are plastic and see through, and she has one the one earring. The whole outfit, from top to bottom, is what I would want.
I actually didn’t think you’d be able to pick just one thing because everything is so bright and colorful. And, I have to say, that we need more color and silliness in the entertainment we consume.
You want to be visually striking, but I wanted to do something fun and different. With Judy, I think we really did that. Now Apocalypse is so in your face and colorful that you’re always going to remember that show.
Now Apocalypse is streaming Starz and Dead to Me is available on Netflix.