Tag: costume design

Costume Design in The Wire & Its Influences

I am more than late to the party on this one, but I finally watched The Wire this summer. I watched seasons 1 – 3 in a week and after that I didn’t want to do anything but watch it. I totally get why this is ranked fifth on IMDBs Top 250 TV Shows. In fact, it could be higher. As an HBO classic, it ranks up there with The Sopranos. However, the main difference to me is how well the costume department did in making it culturally relevant. The characters wore what they would actually wear and it looked authentic, but still so damn stylish.

The first season, without giving away any spoilers for anyone is even later than me to watching the show, focuses on the operations of a group of drug dealers, called the Barksdale crew, and the police who are trying to catch them. These kids, and most of them are still kids, are dressed in a way that I found so exciting to look at. They wore Sean John and Rocawear, the streetwear brands created by rappers. On top of that, they had the baggy jeans and the vests. It was straight out of an early 2000s hip-hop video, and I love that. As they made more money, they wore more expensive items. Timbs fresh out the box, DKNY sweaters, real brands that you would buy in Barneys.

D’Angelo’s closet. PS – It is damn hard to find good photos of the costumes from this show

When I was flying transatlantic a couple of months ago I watched the documentary Fresh Dressed. Ever since watching it I have been really into watching the evolution of hip-hop style. Visually it is interesting. The documentary starts back with Run DMC and moves through chronicling the different trends and brands that musicians wore and made popular. Whatever the rappers wore trickled down into the streets – their influence was immense. After watching The Wire, I started thinking again about the documentary and how the clothes translated into regular people’s wardrobes, people who would listen to the music and want to be a part of it, even if it was just through the way they dressed.

When you think of hip-hop fashion, what do you think of? There are several looks that are iconic. Think of Coogi sweaters (the colourful knits worn by Biggie Smalls); the spread of logomania – heralded, I’d say, by Dapper Dan who used to take symbols like the Louis Vuitton monogram or the Gucci logo and customise individual pieces – which reached the mainstream (not just underground fashion); the popularity of preppy brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren (you can read online about a crew who used to shoplift anything Ralph Lauren, I’m almost sure I read that people got shot over it); oversized, chunky framed Cazal glasses (to put this into context, vintage pairs are listed for hundreds of pounds on Etsy and eBay at the moment). Karl Kani. This is just the 80s and 90s.

Run DMC

When we move into 2000s and a new generation of rappers who are at the top of the game, the fashion changes. This is the fashion worn by the Barksdale crew in The Wire. They have all the cool brands. They wore the right silhouettes, their pants the right width and slung at the right place on their hips. Looking at this to me just takes me back to a music video. I love it.

The success of brands started by musicians seems very 2000s to me, but nowadays image and style is just as important to rappers as their lyrics, honestly. Think of what Kanye West is doing. He is now more than just a rapper. Yeezys are some of the most coveted shoes. People actually buy his Adidas line. His tour merchandise is worn by people who, lets be honest, aren’t even big fans. Somehow I think of his line as a different category than Diddy’s line, but really what is the difference? The price? Diddy always aimed high end with his pricing, as does Kanye (regardless of what he may say on Twitter). I’m not sure. Think again of another Roc Nation artist, Vic Mensa, who is also known for his style – sort of mini-Kanye/Urban Outfitters/cool guy. Then there’s ASAP Rocky who has even been in Vogue and has a penchant for Raf Simons.

Kanye & his protege Vic Mensa

If The Wire was made again today, would the cast be dressed like Kanye? Like Rocky? Or someone entirely different?

For further content:

How Rappers Became the Most Important Fashion Ambassadors” – Complex, August 2016

Fresh Dressed” – 2015

Mad Men Style: Megan Draper in “Tomorrowland”

As everybody knows, Mad Men is the most fashionable show on television. Even though it is set in the 60s, and eventually in the 70s, the outfits that they wear are some of the best in costume design of all time and are still so relevant today. The show has been nominated for countless awards and has won just as many. I am a little bit late jumping on the bandwagon, I only started watching it at the end of 2012 and am only beginning series 5 now. However late I may be, I can totally appreciate what I am seeing.

A character who I have loved in series 4 is Megan, a Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce receptionist and later Don’s secretary. She is glamorous and attractive whilst also seeming like a really nice character and a woman with goals, not unlike Peggy (who fears for her job prospects when Megan becomes engaged to Don).
I think my favourite moment involving her character from the entire series is when Sally, who has ran away from home to visit Don in the city, runs through the office and falls over and is then comforted by Megan. It is a sweet moment and I felt quite sad that Sally then had to go back to the cold and detached Betty, her actual mother. Throughout this series, Megan seems to be one of the few adults who actually gives Sally the care and attention that she is so clearly in need of. Anyway, this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth character analysis of Megan, a woman who has had so little screen time. It is intended to be something a lot less meaningful than that, purely a post appreciating her wonderful outfits: specifically in the season finale.

Let us commence! (Images are all from madmen.wikia.com, purely because I have no clue how to screenshot tv shows…)

  1. THE SUMMER DRESS – In this episode, Don is taking the kids on a work trip to California and was expecting Carla, the nanny, to accompany them. However, Betty fired Carla before the trip leaving Don to find a last minute replacement who comes in the form of Megan. Et voila! This white and floral sundress is so pretty and I especially love how fitted and corset like the bodice is.640
  2. THE NIGHT OUT(FIT) – Megan is going for a night out with a friend she has met and wears this short black dress with a clever cut-out. I really feel that this dress is so current and would not look at all out of place if it were worn today.
  3. THE “SPILT MILKSHAKE” DRESS – When out at a diner, a milkshake is spilt and Don gets instantly angry. Megan, on the other hand, stays calm and deals with the situation quickly, whilst quipping that this is her last dress. As the saying goes, there’s no point crying over spilt milk(shake…)
  4. THE ENGAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT DRESS – Back from their trip from California, and after the bedroom scene where Don proposes (Megan wears a silk lingerie nightie but I didn’t feel that it should be included in the list just because its underwear), Don and Megan announce the news of their engagement to the others at the agency. She wears a coral long sleeved belted dress, a silhouette which is insanely flattering and a colour which is equally so.

I also feel like this list would be incomplete without mentioning the yellow a-line dress which Megan wears when Sally falls in the office. It is just sunshine and happiness in a dress! And oh the horror, she wears it in another episode too.

One of my favourite moments of the entire series
One of my favourite moments of the entire series

 

Secondly, I can’t complete this list without having just a brief mention of the bikini she wears whilst in California. I wish that I had one like that. The pattern is gorgeous.

So that is Megan’s best outfits from the season finale all mentioned. I am excited to watch the rest of the series just to see how they further develop Megan’s character, especially as she is now going to be Don’s wife, and also see how her outfits change. From seeing promotional images for later series, I can see that Megan’s style progresses as the series moves into the 70s. I think I am more excited to keep track of her fashion than I am to see how each storyline pans out. I am beginning series five soon, so please no spoilers (even if I am a few years late..)!