“No I haven’t. I’m scared.”
Despite her proclamation, Alexandra Billings seemed anything but frightened last week. The actress had come out to the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship on Fifth Avenue, where the retailer was unveiling its latest window designs, one of which is dedicated to her show “Transparent.” The retailer collaborated with Amazon Prime and a handful of its Emmy-nominated shows to transform the store’s windows into television sets, each coinciding with the theme of a show.
Despite the nerves prior to seeing the windows, the actress (who, oddly enough, was wearing a dress that she admitted to having purchased at Neiman Marcus) took a moment to chat about the importance of costumes. “We have an amazing costume designer — who’s won several Emmys, by the way — who dresses us for comfort and then cranks it up. She’s brilliant,” said Billings.
Other members of the “Transparent” cast and crew made appearances, including Our Lady J, Trace Lysette, Zackary Drucker and Andrea Sperling. Lysette reflected on her “love affair” with New York — it’s the place where she transitioned, and now, she says, “To be in the windows [of Saks] is really a full-circle moment for me. I have to pinch myself a little bit.”
Brennan Brown and Joel De La Fuente, from “The Man in the High Castle,” saw the event as a chance to highlight the value their behind-the-scenes colleagues bring to the show.
“We’re here to advocate for all the people that are working behind the camera. Because Saks is rightfully acknowledging production design and costumes — pretty much everyone that’s behind the camera does truly a top-notch job on the show — and I think they’re all very worthy to be in that conversation,” said De La Fuente, and Brown heartily agreed. “We love to see them be recognized, and we love that Saks is doing this. It’s really cool,” Brown chimed in.
Kathleen Munroe was representing Prime’s latest series, “Patriot.” The show, only one season in with a second on the way, is already rumored to be amongst this year’s Emmy nominees.
“[The show is] funny, but it’s also quite moving, and it’s heavy — it’s got this real heaviness to it — but then there’s also a quirky levity and point of view, and a real visual beauty,” Munroe said. “We have a narrative that’s told through visuals more than most of the things I’ve ever done.”
The costume designer from “Mozart in the Jungle,” Katie Riley, walked the carpet accompanied by some of the show’s stars: Saffron Burrows, Malcolm McDowell and Gael García Bernal.
“I was just thinking about Katie, in the shower for some reason,” Burrows exclaimed as she took in the “Mozart in the Jungle”-themed window. “There’s a degree of freedom and fluidity about the costume, which is fun. I think [Riley] really respects the actor’s choices, so she’ll give us a selection, but it’s very much about what feels right in the moment and what works for the scene.”
“A costume can make or break the character in my view,” said McDowell, whose opinion has developed throughout a career that spans over five decades. “[Riley] is very, very important — she’s as important to me, really, as the director of photography,” he added.
Riley’s wide range of costume styles has been described as daring, sometimes flamboyant, and always interesting. “It’s nice to be a show about music. It allows us to explore different colors and palettes and different types of categories,” she said. “It’s not just police uniforms and suits. We get to really create things that aren’t so off-the-rack.”