Last week I was lucky enough to interview costume designer Jennifer Rogien, who works on two of my favourite TV shows: Girls and Netflix Original Series Orange Is the New Black. Jennifer made a fleeting visit to London for an event with Gap and Grazia magazine, and very kindly found time to talk to me about her work whilst she was here. Even if you don’t watch these two shows (which makes you crazy, by the way), it’s really interesting to hear how a costume designer works, which is why I decided to run the full interview. It’s really long – much longer than your average CTP post – but well worth a read. I suggest you save it for your lunch break or commute home. That way you can enjoy it properly…
First of all, I should probably say how I much I love Girls. I can’t wait for season three! The four main characters have all had very unique looks since the first episode, how are their styles progressing as the seasons go on?
You know, I’m just trying to keep up with the girls and where their story lines are going. I take all of my cues from Lena, from the script, and from the stories. I’m not making decisions off on my own, because I really want the clothes to be reflecting where the girls are. I think from season one to season two we saw the characters evolving – they’re either getting a different job or still not having a job – so I’m just trying to keep pace with what’s happening and hopefully that’s working. And I think the same can be said of season three, as the girls’ stories continue to unfold.
The show is now so influential. Do you ever spot girls on the street dressed like Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa?
You know, that’s such a hard question, because I can’t tell if I’m seeing it because I’m looking for it or because it’s happening. My assistant and I – well he’s not an assistant at all, he’s a complete design collaborator – we will go around the streets of New York and say ‘oh my gosh, that’s Jessa walking down the street’ or ‘that’s Hannah! Hannah riding a bike right there!’
I people watch just as inspiration, to see what people are doing with their clothes. And not just typical street style, like ‘I put on a whole great outfit to go and go photographed in SoHo’. That person is literally wearing a proper button-up shirt with a pair of athletic shorts! But that’s telling me a lot about who they are and what they’re doing – and it’s a question of how I can use that, when the moment comes in a script.
Do you have a favourite Girls character to dress?
Oh my gosh, that would be like picking a favourite child! You know, I used to be really committed to Ray, but now Adam is really growing on me. But I like them all for different reasons because they’re all so different. And I get to dress them in such specific styles – girls and guys – so for me it’s fantastic fun everyday!