The costume designer tells Joey Moser details about some of the garb for Amazon’s gem of an anthology series.
There is a lot to be said about how clothes and romance are connected. Whether it’s selecting an outfit for a first date or going on a shopping spree to spruce up your wardrobe for your partner, the visual tale woven through clothes is complex and intricate. Costume designer Lucy Corrigan was tasked with not only dressing her star-studded cast for Amazon’s delightful anthology series, Modern Love, but she had to infuse character into every piece.
In one of the best episodes of the season, Anne Hathaway gets to sing and dance her way through the thrill of a potential new relationship, but then she retreats within herself when her bipolar disorder takes hold of her. It’s a very heightened, stylized episode, and Corrigan gets to play with a huge swath of colors and textures—the period costume design is breathtaking and so chic.
There are some fantastical pieces throughout the season, but it all feels grounded and appropriate. After all, these are real people and we are gifted their stories of love and yearning. The clothes that Corrigan dresses them in aren’t window dressing at all. They all enhance the character and the drive of the story.
Awards Daily TV: What was it like to work on one project with so many directors?
Lucy Corrigan: I realized that when we were filming that I was sometimes doing three stories at once. We would be shooting one and then I’d be working on two others. It was really challenging. It did feel sometimes like a high wire act because it is an anthology series. Network television can be hard to work in since you have to get approval for so many things and work through the proper channels. I had a lot of freedom with Amazon. That’s really hard, because you can second guess yourself as an artist. Sometimes you don’t know what they want instead of solving smaller, more intricate problems involving what a certain character might look like. How can I help the actors be the characters? I went to the premiere party and a few of the actors came up and told me that the costumes were really instrumental in helping them find the characters. That made me happy.
AD: Sometimes when you are getting ready for a first date or when you are conscious of a new romance you are really worried about how you look. Do you feel like dressing the characters of Modern Love is both an emotional and visual journey for a lot of characters?
LC: Oh, yeah. Cristin Milioti’s character changes her clothes about 500 times in 30 minutes, and she was fun to play with how she plays with her clothes out in public.
AD: Can you tell me about the big, red coat that Julia Garner wears? It reminded me so much of Little Red Riding Hood, and it just cradles her. It looks so comfy.
LC: Yeah, that was a celebration of the internet. We wanted it to be red, and it needed to have a hood because that drives the action. We were trolling Etsy and eBay because we couldn’t find it ready-made. We were going to build it but then, at the last minute, we found it online. When we found it, it was like ‘Bingo!’ She just walks right into that coat. We found it right in time, because we were moving on to the next one. Julia is so much fun to dress—she had a ton of changes as well. I’m not sure if that comes off in the edit.
AD: I noticed a lot of her clothes, honestly. She has this reddish or maroonish, puffy sleeved shirt that really stood out to me.
LC: It has these little gold accents. Emmy [Rossum], who I adore, is a great director, and she was very specific about her palette. I love that she created a board to show me what she wanted, and it included all these Renaissance colors with these deep maroons and reds. There were Renaissance paintings of, like, angels, so that even went into her bedroom. If you look at Julia’s bedroom, there are even gold stars on the walls. That palette was very much inspired by Emmy’s vision, and Julia’s character very much belongs in that world.
AD: Anne Hathaway’s wardrobe is very in sync with her character and so emotionally driven. I love her sparkly shirt and that gorgeous red coat. Did her character’s highs and lows fully inspire your design of her clothes?
LC: Oh yes—for sure. She goes very high and then she goes very low. Her low palette is totally drained of color, and I wanted to take away any shine or sparkle from her clothes. Make it dulled and reined in. The book that that is based on is eviscerating. I read the book so I could understand that character. I wanted to capture that moment where her getting low just laid her out on the bathroom floor. That is a super dramatic duality of that woman’s life, and since these stories are all based on real people, we are really honoring them. It’s inspired by reality—it’s not pretend. It’s actually how this woman lived. It was obviously very heightened.
AD: That ‘That Girl!’ sequence is incredible. I was screaming when that part came on.
LC: I am so proud of that sequence.
AD: Did you recreate all of those or are they vintage pieces?
LC: It was a mix. There is a green Pierre Cardin coat, and I knew it had to go with the winter white bell bottom and a cream turtleneck. Those came from Bergdorf’s, so the hat, necklace, and jacket were vintage, but the rest was not. The platforms are Yves Saint Laurent. It was so much fun. If you go back and watch just the background actors, they are magnificent. These people walking by her really helped tell the tale. Sometimes that happens, and we wanted to avoid that. The star at the center looks great but then everyone else around her doesn’t sell the vision. They sort of break the fourth wall if it’s not done well, and the hair and makeup were also so fantastic. I’m sure it goes by fast, but I catch them in the stills. They have these great afros and these great coats. I’ve done a lot of period work, and to stay interesting and believable is hard to do. Anne was so creative and driven. I have little videos of her on my phone in the fitting.
AD: She also wears clothes very well. That has to help sell your design if she knows how something fits on her body.
LC: Oh, yes, it does! She owns all of those looks. That girl knows how to pull something off, for sure. That day we shot, and she was in that orange Gucci skirt—it was so freaking cold out. There is a picture of John Carney directing that scene, and he’s in giant parka with a hood and a hat. It was Red Hook on the water—it was brutal, and Anne was like, ‘I’m good. I got this!’ Another actor wouldn’t have done it.
AD: Another piece I love is the blue-ish scarf that Jane Alexander wears in the final episode of the season. She wears everything with such dignity.
AD: Or anything that Shea Whigham wears, I just thought, ‘Well, that’s good dad couture.’
LC: Well, thank you for noticing that blue scarf. I actually made that for her, because we needed color. We needed that color blue, and we weren’t finding any good fabric. We really searched for that. I saw that scarf in my head, and we had to make it. I had to.
AD: That’s so interesting that you made that, and it wasn’t something that you just bought.
LC: No, we had to make that. It’s funny that you say that about Shea, because he came in thinking the character was something different, and that’s really interesting and a little bit of a dance with an actor. He thought he was going to be schlubblier, and I saw his apartment, so I knew he wasn’t going to be schlubby. Do you remember that apartment?
AD: I do actually.
LC: I couldn’t believe people lived in this place in Tribeca. Funny that you noticed him, because his character was really challenging. He was hard to get right because we wanted to make him interesting and kind of hip and cute. I found him very hard to nail and not fall into any cliché. All the actors are such great collaborators honestly.
AD: I remember being really impressed with the cast when I saw the trailer, but I think watching it is entirely different.
LC: And then you have Ed Sheeran fly in on his jet—it was hysterical. He was wearing a Kurt Cobain cardigan with an Erykah Badu T-shirt and blue suede sneakers for Elvis Presley.
AD: I saw he had a printed shirt, but I didn’t catch that! That’s so cool. I need to go back and look that up.
LC: I had a lot of fun with that. I’m not sure if anyone else caught it. Go back and take a look.
AD: If you could steal something from this batch of clothes and put it in your own closet, what would it be?
LC: The red coat was incredible and that blouse I loved. There were some sweaters that Olivia [Cooke] wears. I will admit that I originally went a little too cute homeless/hipster chic, and John Carney was like, ‘No, no, no.’ I went down the wrong lane, and we worked really hard to put her in men’s clothes. Another triumph of eBay was her hiking boots, because it takes weeks to hire someone to distress hiking boots. She looks as utilitarian as possible—like someone who lived on the street. She used the things that kept her the warmest. She has a sweater that I love that was a lot of different reds. That’s a great character, and her makeup is really refrained. We tried to keep her real.
AD: And that’s a great moment near the end of the show. Something so simple can make an actor look so striking.
Modern Love is streaming now on Amazon.