Costume designer Jane Greenwood has been nominated for a Tony Award 21 times, winning finally this year. Her follow-up to that achievement is “The Parisian Woman,” in which she is tasked with dressing Uma Thurman as a wealthy, sharp and scheming Washington wife in Trump’s Washington.
Greenwood began by consulting “those enormous tomes that come from Europe with all those designer’s clothes” for a launching point, and found designers’ work in tailoring like Rei Kawakubo’s to be inspiring. Yet when it came time to dress Thurman’s character, Chloe, only her first outfit was purchased (a pair of jeans, a man’s button down, a gray Stella McCartney coat and an Yves Saint Laurent scarf, worn with Thurman’s own kitten heels). The rest was made custom.
“You don’t really want to have a dress that somebody in the audience could be sitting in. We wanted to make it a little more make-believe,” Greenwood explains. “So we ended up actually making four out of the five outfits.”
Modern-day D.C. was the biggest source of inspiration, naturally.
“I looked at a lot of research for women in Washington — curiously there were a lot of pictures going online to look at but [also] just in the news daily — there were a lot of people to observe,” she says. “It’s important to really nail the two ladies who were in Washington, and to give Chloe somewhat of a different beat because she really is in a way an outsider. She is very malleable in that she can go into a lot of different situations with ease, but she doesn’t have any particular position.”
Another reason for making custom clothing was to honor the woman who is interested in looking nice and put together, but for whom fashion isn’t a main interest.
“I’m not sure that [Chloe] was driven by fashion — we felt that so much is that she wore clothes that were clothes for what occasion,” Greenwood says. “She was very good at being dressed so that she was absolutely in the right look for the right place that she was going to be.”
And while the women in the news cycle gave life to much of how Chloe looks, notably it was not the Trump women who Greenwood looked to.
“Not so much Ivanka and Melania, because they are very much sort of items of what they are representing right now,” she says. “And I think Chloe has a lot of different people of mix with, so she needs to be a little bit more a chameleon. I tried to give her a look that made her able to be part of wherever she was.”
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