In the second season of “Russian Doll” — dropping Wednesday on Netflix — Natasha Lyonne’s Nadia Vulvokov is still prowling the East Village, cigarette in hand, in her signature black: black blazer, black jeans. But this season, there is a little more red, and white, and even some pink.
Nadia, and the rest of the cast, have much bigger wardrobes to accommodate the show’s time-traveling narrative.
“That gave the show a whole new dimension this season,” says costume designer Jennifer Rogien. “There are more changes for almost every character.”
Attentive fans will be able to spot repeat looks. And Nadia’s krugerrand coin necklace takes on heightened prominence. But the gray tweed Helmut Lang deconstructed overcoat that became the character’s signature has been retired.
“We looked at the season one coat long and hard, because it would be realistic that this New York woman would be wearing the same coat. After a lot of discussion, we decided that it might have been a little bit too iconic. It had become a bit of a character signifier. And we didn’t want to carry all of that from season one into season two by repeating that coat again.
“But it was a strong contender,” she adds, “because it really did immediately give you Nadia.”
In its place for season two is a black military-inspired overcoat with gold buttons from Los Angeles-based Avec Les Filles. The coat is more tailored than the Lang one; its silhouette is actually similar to the Polo Ralph Lauren cashmere coat that Nadia also wore in season one — when she made it to day two.
The time loop narrative of season one — in which Nadia relives her 36th birthday over and over again, meeting an untimely end and waking up to do it all over again — is replaced in season two with a time travel device in which Nadia and Alan (Charlie Barnett) explicate familial trauma by traveling back in time to the early 1980s. (Their time travel mechanism — the Downtown 6 train — feels particularly ominous as New Yorkers have endured a series of horrific crimes in the city’s subways.)
Rogien and her team did need a wardrobe that could hide a lot of padding for Lyonne’s stunt doubles, as the character repeatedly met a gruesome end. There is also more daylight in season two, and a little bit more optimism. The time travel scenes take place in the early ’80s, which feels a bit more like the late 1970s, a very distinct era in fashion. Chloë Sevigny (who plays Nadia’s mother Lenora) dons a suede and shearling swing coat and rose floral dress. The dress was sourced from Etsy seller Grit & Glam Vintage, which had rare early ’80s deadstock items and some in duplicate.
“In season one [Lenora] was one of the few characters that had blue in her wardrobe,” says Rogien. “And we really minimized green except for Maxine [Greta Lee], a similarly rule-breaking character. This season, we incorporated more blue and green to broaden the world and help to tell that story with color. Even if you don’t notice it when those time periods appear on-screen, you feel that something is different.”
A self-described “theater kid,” Rogien, 42, grew up in Montana and Idaho. Her mother — a nurse practitioner and teacher — taught her to sew; she made clothes for Rogien and her four siblings when they were children.
“I remember playing a lot of dress-up,” she says. “It was the early ’80s, so they would now be considered Prairie-core, but at the time they were the real thing. I liked that escapism, that I could build a whole world on my body.”
College at Yale brought her to the Northeast, where she worked in the university’s theater doing makeup (including age makeup) and, because she could sew, costuming. “For a hot minute, I thought I would be a makeup artist,” she says.
She attended Parsons AAS Fashion Design school where she focused on fashion construction. She did a short stint as a buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue — while moonlighting in indie theater — before realizing the job at Saks had more to do with business than fashion. Her first big break came when she landed a PA job on the 2006 cult film “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus,” with Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridges. She met Lyonne on “Orange Is the New Black.” Rogien has also worked on HBO’s “Girls” and The CW’s New York art world set “Katy Keene.”
“There’s something about the creation of a character through clothing that really speaks to me,” she says. “Being able to communicate through clothes, that’s what’s always been interesting to me. With fashion, you can manufacture your story and you can be whoever you want to be.”