‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Season 4 Fashion, Costume Overview – WWD
With three seasons of Amazon Prime Video’s hit comedy series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, costume designer Donna Zakowska had a clear idea of where she wanted her style to take the characters in the new season.
The fourth season, which debuts Friday, is set in 1960 and 1961 as the title character Miriam “Midge” Maisel (played by Rachel Brosnahan) pursues her career as a stand-up comedian and takes a job that bridges a rift between them generates them and their close friends and family.
The new season’s costumes carry many of the design cues of the first three seasons, with the characters sporting bright colors, full skirts, and a large amount of accessories synonymous with 1950s women’s fashion. Zakowska takes advantage of this style and combines it with styles that emerged in the 1960s, a time she describes as the “transitional” period for fashion.
“The most important thing for me was to make progress on time,” said Zakowska. “Not quite doing something that you absolutely knew was the 1960s and also getting rid of our classic 1950s silhouette. That was the most interesting part for me because I think people in fashion aren’t that concerned with transition periods. You either feel like you’re in the 1940s, 1950s or 1960s, but between all those decades there are so many years where there is a much more interesting combination of design, shape and silhouette.”
Zakowska combined the two decades in the costumes, taking the sculptural and curvier silhouette of the 1950s and fusing it with the “slightly more boxy” looks that were emerging in the early 1960s. This was also evident in Zakowska’s use of accessories, namely hats. She explained that hats were getting bigger and more common during this period—especially bucket hats—so she introduced the accessory more into Maisel’s character.
She also said the skirts aren’t as wide as in previous seasons and are tapered. Zakowska explained that she took inspiration from Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly for the costumes in previous seasons, but switched to Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot for this season.
“I don’t think there’s such a thing as really sticking to the silhouette because the moment you surrender to your sense of color or proportion, in a way that’s the roadmap and that’s the outline for what you do. ‘ she explained how closely she related to the style of the era. “I think you’ll always add your own personal touch because you’re making choices. Research is there to guide you, but your aesthetic and your sensibility really tell you how to interpret it, because you’re always interpreting. That’s the fun part: shaping the interpretation.”
Zakowska documented her design process for the costumes in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in her book, Madly Marvelous: The Costumes of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which was released last fall. In the book, Zakowska talks about her use of color in the costumes, which was also important to her in season four.
“In the book I describe how I use color for emotional attraction, or what I call the color echoes of different points [Maisel’s] life,” she said. “The green is heroic, the red has more intense and passionate moments. It’s a very specific vocabulary and I create variations on that vocabulary, of course, but it’s always a choice that makes some sense of where she is at that point in her life and what that scene represents.”
Zakowska described Maisel’s style this season as a little more avant-garde and unconventional, and inspired by the styles of fashion designer Claire McCardell. She explained that one of the most noticeable differences in the character’s style this season is in her stage outfits. While Maisel has stuck to an all-black stage uniform in the past, this season she’s introduced some color and incorporated elements of her everyday style.
“On stage we always try to create uniform and that’s why we started with the black dress first,” she said. “But the thing about her costumes on stage – because her whole image was built around being a housewife and a mother – there was always a sense that there was an evening or entertaining quality to those clothes. It’s very similar to how someone dresses when they’re having a dinner party, so you have to reinforce it compared to the other costumes, and there’s a certain graphic strength because it’s in front of a curtain or in a very busy environment. “
Like many TV shows that use period costume, Zakowska feels that looks play their own role in the show and drive the plot.
“Sometimes people say to me, ‘I feel like the clothes are characters themselves,’ so I think their role is to tell the story in a simple way and then tell the story in a slightly exciting way.” , she said. “Whatever the moment or the theme, create something that enhances the action in the scene. It’s been one thing since we started designing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: trying to excite and seduce people by seeing the clothes.”
It was announced on Thursday that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will be renewed for a fifth season, which will be its last.
Click through the gallery above to see photos of fashion in Season 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
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