So, here's the thing about "Love" (the Netflix series, not the concept, to paraphrase Chantal): I, like many of us here at Fashionista, binge-watched the show's first season, but I wasn't super into it. Not right away, at least. Its will-they-or-won't-they, am-I-being-crazy, are-you-being crazy, should-I-disclose-my-baggage dynamic felt real and uncomfortable in a way that was different from, say, "Girls"'s real and uncomfortable. But — because sometimes first impressions aren't always what they're stacked up to be — I gave it another shot and watched it through a second time.
I'm very happy I did. Its second season — which dropped in full earlier this month — is great, if only because it serves up more of Mickey, the show's self-destructive, well-dressed antihero. Just as the majority of the Fashionista team watched Season 1 of "Love" over the span of the same weekend, we're also communally fixated on Mickey's wardrobe. Her costumes feel stylized, but in a way that's as familiar to all of us as the character she plays. There's a reason why the show's costume designer Jennifer Eve equated her style to a "hungover — like after a bender — Alexa Chung."
"One of the things that's really interesting about this show, more than anything I've ever done, is that this is closest to my personal aesthetic," Eve, who has previously worked on projects like "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," "Glee" and "Nip/Tuck," told me over the phone from Los Angeles. "A lot of Mickey's clothes are part of my personal wardrobe." (Those Carhartt overalls Mickey wore in Season 1? Eve said they're actually Gillian Jacobs's, the actress who plays her.) Eve explained that she came upon this series the traditional way — through her agency — but a costume designer that co-creator Judd Apatow has worked with a lot referred her. It's been smooth sailing thus far. "Every project is not this seamless and it's not this real," she said. "It's a really fun project and everyone's really, really nice."
We asked Eve to walk us through Mickey's most memorably irreverent costumes, including (but not limited to) the red bodysuit, the wear-with-everything ankle boots, the office party fancy-dress and, my personal favorite, Gus's Air Jordan tee.
Prior to Season 1, how did you go about conceptualizing Mickey's wardrobe?
I always do really thorough concept boards of things I respond to in different categories. That's always the jumping-off point when I start a new project.
In this case, at the very beginning of the show, I met with [show co-creators] Judd [Apatow] and Lesley Arfin and Paul Rust with the boards I interviewed with and we had that very initial [conversation]. "What did you respond to? What can we edit? Where can we hone in?"
To know who your people are at the outset was also really important; it was great to imagine [Jacobs and Rust] and their bodies and their faces. You never want [the audience] to see [the actors]. I never want the audience to see a costume designer making choices. You want to build real people.
I'm always trying to push the boundaries. There's so much content out there now that I think the audience is ready for more experimental [costumes]. To get a show like this and play it safe feels like such a missed opportunity. Every single time with every character, I kept trying to drill in, "Let's not take the safe choice," always in the boundaries of what's really on the street.
One of Mickey's more recognizable costumes from Season 1 is the red bodysuit-slash-swimsuit with the jeans, flannel shirt and Adidas slides. Where did that look come from?
This was my go-to going-out outfit in my early 20s. I wore vintage '70s bathing suits and jeans and heels. I lived in San Francisco at the time, and that was my jam.
We didn't do a pilot — we went straight to series — so we were building who these characters were [all at once]. We were building who Mickey was in a bigger way. We needed a costume that took us through two episodes and that was going to introduce her. It was going to be something that she wore out at night, and it was something that she was going to take down and wear through a day.
We had more fittings for that particular outfit than I think I've had for one outfit in my career, and on much more costume-driven, costume-heavy shows. Judd had a really particular idea, but he didn't know exactly what it was. It was just about finding Mickey.
The second she put this on, we all knew. Gillian turned around and looked at me and it was at that moment that we were like, "Boom, this is it." This organically felt like it hit all the right beats. It was nonchalant, but it was sexy. For years I had people coming out of the woodwork — friends that I've been out of touch with for long time — who have just been like, "That's you!"
As far as Season 2, I was really into the Air Jordan shirt Mickey borrows from Gus in the second episode. How did you decide on that shirt particularly?
As a designer, you have these story plot lines that you need to dress, but you also want to stay organic to a character. Obviously, she borrows the shirt from Gus, but she also wears it a really long time. You don't want to pull the audience out of that moment, to be consistently reminded that that's Gus's shirt. We wanted something where, at some point, the audience forgets that it's Gus's and it becomes part of Mickey. It needed to be something that you could believe could be Gus's. It could've been an old shirt that he had. He didn't know that a Jordan shirt would be cool; he just had a Jordan shirt because it's Nike, or whatever. But it also needed to resonate with Mickey's character and be something that she would choose. And I love the sportswear influence; it feels really anchored in what is being worn and what is happening right now in Echo Park or Highland Park, the areas where they are. I didn't want just a hipster T-shirt, and she had been coming out of a white T-shirt; I didn't want a solid T-shirt because I thought it was boring.
There's a vintage sportswear store here in town that we use a lot. I got it there.
What's your breakdown on where you source Mickey's wardrobe?
It's a lot of vintage. One of the greatest things [about being] a designer on this show is that there aren't a lot of script days in each episode. Characters are in their clothes for longer than I'm used to, so you really get to spend time with them in them. From a shopping standpoint, that means that I don't have to do big, giant hauls. I can actually rag-pick, and I can go and spend time going to flea markets in Long Beach, or [whatever]. It's a luxury.
In LA, there's the usual suspects we go to [for vintage]. A Current Affair is a great; it's this twice-a-year vintage thing that happens here and I think happens in Brooklyn, as well. A lot of what they carry at those fairs is higher-ticket, fancier stuff.
I love Mickey's style so much that I want to know how she shops. Like, those flat black ankle boots — are they a knockoff version? Does she wait until the original go on sale?
The concept that we came up with for her is that there's a couple specialty things that she saves for or splurges on. She probably has, like, one credit card, maybe two, and she just says, "Fuck it," and she does it.
Most of her clothes are vintage and aren't expensive. But then there's a couple things where we imagine her grabbing lunch with friends and walking by a store and seeing something and just being like, "Fuck it, I want 'em, I'm doing it," and putting a credit card down. I feel like she is impulsive, and so her bigger-ticket items were impulse buys. There aren't many of them, so we keep an eye on that. In that same way, she re-wears a lot of her clothes. It's really important to me to show that this is a real person with a real closet who re-wears like we all do.
She wears those Modern Vice boots a ton. And I'm not sick of them. I still believe them, and they still makes sense to me.
There's this dichotomy with Mickey where you can't tell if she actively likes and follows fashion, but she always looks very fashion-informed. Does that affect your costuming process?
I think she's paying attention. She's not oblivious to the world around her. In Season 3, you see her start to come into her own as a producer and part of that is being tapped into what people are ready to hear and what people want. She's more observant of culture than we give her credit for because she's often a mess. She sometimes makes the wrong choice, but I don't think it's because she's not paying attention.
And that goes for fashion, as well. I don't necessarily think she's reading fashion mags, but she knows more than you might think she does. Even by the osmosis of living in these areas, going to these coffee shops... it becomes your culture.
Everyone is losing their minds over the dress Mickey wore to the office party. What was the process like for finding and styling that look?
That was a super-cute dress by Self-Portrait. We made a mandate when we were looking for it that it couldn't cross a certain dollar amount. I do believe that she wants to look good, but she secretly tries to pretend [she doesn't], but this was [when she] was introducing Gus to her world. In these moments, she does show up. I think she went and put her dress on a card. We pulled some dresses that were around [the $1,200-$1,300 range], but I couldn't get my head to a place where I believed that Mickey would buy this.
One of the things I love about Self-Portrait is that it's not cheap, but it's at an accessible price point for younger, fashion-forward woman. And it toes the line between trendy and timeless. I still believe she would spend $400 on a dress.
There was a faux fur coat that we had with it for a minute, but then I was like, "I think it's too much." It was a great outfit, but it felt too showy and too curated. We dialed it down with the biker jacket, and that was Topshop. When we do retail, Topshop's one of the places [we use].
When we first started imagining who Mickey was in the very, very beginning of Season 1, the tagline I came up with was "a hungover Alexa Chung." A hungover — like after a bender — Alexa Chung.
I feel like Gillian's personal style is somewhat similar to Mickey's. Does she have any input into Mickey's costumes?
Absolutely. That's the beauty of what I get to do. I hope there's always a part of the actor in their character. I can only bring clothes to them, but then they have to put it on and believe it. Gill and I now have a shorthand. We trust each other wholeheartedly, but there will be times where she'll put something on and we'll both be on the fence and we'll ask each other, "Do you want to fight for it?" And if one of us wants to fight for it, we'll go further. We'll try different shoes, and we'll go through paces to try and make it work.
I love backstories, and actors are usually very game to play in that world. There will be times when, aesthetically, we like something, but we're not quite sure, so we're like, "Well, let's talk this out. How did she come to this? Let's figure out a path."
There was a jacket — I don't know that it ever made it to camera, actually — that we had this whole backstory for. She stole it from a coat check! It was more expensive than something she could afford, and that's how she got it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Homepage photo: Netflix