When the first images of Lily James and Sebastian Stan as Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee surfaced, the world flipped out over their likeness to one of the most famous couples of the 1990s. When you watch Hulu’s Pam & Tommy, you aren’t just gobsmacked by the physical transformations because the clothes they are wearing are just as impressive. Costumer Kameron Lennox not only brought a keen precision to the costumes, but she also has a palpable enthusiasm for this era of fashion.
Going back to the early 1990s was easy for Lennox since she was living in Los Angeles at the time. A lot of influences from that decade are coming back, so the designer knew she could bring something special and personal to the limited series.
“I lived through the ’90s in Los Angeles. I have a teenage daughter, and I have noticed that a lot of that style has come back. The Y2K style is happening again now with the drop-waist and the thong underwear showing. I am picking up on a lot of that. As far as the style, what’s fun for me was I felt like I could bring us all back to where that all came from. A lot of the designers are doing a lot of the same silhouettes that they were doing then. They are bringing back the bodycon dresses and the stacked shoes with chunky heels. With Pam, we did take a lot of those ideas and we sourced a lot of vintage dresses that she wears in the show. With the heels, we wanted to keep it classy and timeless in order to focus on the story. There was a lot of coverage of what she wore at that time, and it wasn’t until after our story ends that you see a lot of crazier things like big, fuzzy hats. We tailored it to this specific time.”
When Tommy Lee sees Pamela Anderson for the first time in a club in Los Angeles, it feels like time stands still. We witness their love at first sight moment, and Tommy sees Pam for the goddess that she is. Her hair is up and out of her face, and she’s wearing a dress that hugs her petite frame. It’s an important glimpse of how Pam wears clothes to make herself feel sexy.
“How we were going to portray this moment came from reading the script. Tommy is drunk and on drugs, and we wanted to make her stick out in this club. She had to be this shimmering, eye-catching presence with her hair up and her tan skin, so we went with this gorgeous, golden, Vivienne Westwood dress. I was very fortunate to find that dress. I set out for something gold, but that dress was perfect since Pam was known for wearing a lot of Westwood.
We really struck gold with that. We tailored it to fit Lily [James]’s body, because we were dealing with prosthetics and there was a certain way that Pam Anderson wore her clothes. The shoes she wears in that scene were the first thing I bought for the character. They were these YSL, black, glitter, stilettos.”
Tommy Lee, on the other hand, is wearing next to nothing when we are first introduced to the Mötley Crüe drummer. He enters the construction space to evaluate the crew’s progress, but he’s also making a statement to everyone in his home. This is his turf, and he will show off as much as he wants. You would think that you could simply buy thongs for the scene, but Lennox built a lot of thongs to capture the right fit and fabric.
“It was written in the script, and it’s based on Tommy’s book, Tommyland, where he details how, when he plays the drums, he’s either naked or wearing close to nothing. He gets so hot when he plays that he’s uncomfortable. They took that idea, and we have seen Tommy in a lot of thongs throughout the years–especially with Mötley Crüe. They might be leather or have studs and one of the scripts said ‘black leather thong.’ Since we were dealing with a prosthetic, black leather has no give. Once you build it that big, it doesn’t sit right. We had to build them because of the prosthetics, and what I was finding on the rack is a lot skimpier now. They didn’t read ‘90s to me.”
“I did a deep dive, and found a vintage pair on eBay that were leopard. I wanted to copy the pattern to make sure it was within the era. We sourced a lot of fabrics–lots of tiger print and leopard print–and we made a whole bunch to try them on with the final prosthetic. Though, we didn’t find out the size of it until the first day of shooting. I chose a thong for that scene, but then I got a call from my set costumer saying there was a problem. I went to set, and it was too small and it didn’t cover everything. We had to do an emergency cut and sew right there, and we had to remake all of them. The idea was that Tommy has this drawer full of thongs, and he would just pick and choose whatever he wanted for that day.”
When it comes to Rand Gauthier, Lennox had to put herself in the head of a man who doesn’t give a lot of thought to his clothes. He is a man who uses his hands and his clothes aren’t flashy or stylish. It’s more about function than fashion despite the world he finds himself in.
“The approach for Rand was to show how different he was from Tommy. They are the same in some subtle undertones. He is a blue-collar worker who wants to come home from work and be able to pay his cable bill. It’s simple life necessities. He’s not somebody who thinks about what he’s wearing, and he might just reach for something that is available or that is clean. The way that he wears his clothes, though, is a built thing in his head, and we see that when we flashback to see his dad. His dad was a swanky actor who was always polished with his shirt tucked in. There is still that little boy who is tucking his shirt in and belting his pants to keep it together as best he can. This time period was a period of normcore like that Seinfeld outfit of light wash jeans with a puffy shirt. We wanted to incorporate all that in there but also that idea of maybe Erica gave him that green, striped shirt. Maybe it’s something his aunt sent him for Christmas. He has certain things that he likes, but most of his clothes are things he’s gathered and has kept.”
One of my favorite outfits is a denim, button-up shirt that Rand wears when he visits Taylor Schilling’s Erica. A lot of people would describe the shirt in unflattering terms, but it is a garment that Rand himself would think is nice. It’s the perfect example of a character’s perspective on his own taste and wardrobe.
“That is Rand’s nice shirt. Maybe it’s something he wore when he was married to Erica. It has to have a specific significance, and that’s why he’s wearing it. Rand wouldn’t wear a business shirt, and I thought of it as him wearing something he thought was nice.”
Lennox knew there were looks that she wanted to incorporate into the series like Pam’s Barb Wire premiere dress. The costume designer has a clear love of this time period, and she wanted to pay respect to the characters and the story by calibrating how Pam would dress for public events versus how she would dress herself at home.
“There were some iconic looks that Pam wore during that time that we wanted to recreate. The white, angora sweater with the black leather pants came from a photo of the real Pam Anderson where she is eating an ice cream cone and it’s melting. It’s just so sexy and iconic. Lily and I discussed it a lot, and we had to put that somewhere in the series. We were able to source the sweater and the pants, and that outfit has some softness with some toughness.”
“The chrome, latex, fishtailed gown is something Pam actually wore. There’s a photoshoot where she’s writhing on the beach, and it’s amazing. It was clear to me that I had to get that piece in the series as well. I am a personal fan of anything chrome and I wore leather in the ’90s. In our storyline, she’s pregnant, so that adds a whole other element. The pieces are cut to the proportions of her body, and I was able to source from the company that made them for Pam in the ‘90s. When we had that one custom made, it was before we knew it was for when she was pregnant, so we had to have it cut and reshaped. With rubbers and latexes, you have to lube it up to make it shine, and it’s the little things like that that make me so happy.”
Since Lennox is such a fan of the era, there were a lot of looks that she would steal for her own closet. I knew that I would either want that denim shirt or a leopard bucket hat that Tommy wears during a rehearsal at his home. Lennox’s choices are a lot bolder than my own.
“I really do hope there is a resurgence of latex because of Pam & Tommy because I love using different types of materials. I love the vintage lingerie. It wasn’t in the scene for long, but she wears a pink, mesh, metal miniskirt and a top that I thought was so sexy. We gifted that to Lily.”
“The Vivienne Westwood dress she wears in Cancun is great too. It’s white with pink cherry blossoms and flowers on it. And the Versace couture gown she wears on Jay Leno. The slits go up to her thigh–it’s magic.”
Pam & Tommy is streaming now on