Jenn Rogien knows what girls like. Specifically, what they like to wear.
The costume designer responsible for dressing the cast of i-D cover model Lena Dunham’s precocious hit HBO show ‘Girls’ told us that she would like to think the clothes play the part of an additional character in the series; “a key supporting player, if you will.” In between fittings for Jenji Kohan’s series Orange is the New Black,, i-D dialled up Jenn to find out how she goes about creating this schizophrenic character, why working with Lena Dunham is so much fun, how she approaches the boys’ wardrobe and what her top 5 looks were from season one.
Did you have any specific references or inspirations for the cast before you started filming? Before I had my first meeting with HBO and Lena I had made specific mood boards for each character for the interview process, which is how I always prepare. I looked at images from all over the place, particularly online. Street style was a big inspiration but street style blogs have changed dramatically since we shot the first series almost a year ago, both in the level of photography and the subject of the imagery. I also walked all over Brooklyn – I live in Brooklyn and we shot in Brooklyn – and looked to designer imagery, fashion magazines, department store catalogues; wherever it would seem right for the character to go, we visited.
Do you use any pieces from your own closet for any of the characters? Well, yes, I do and sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit it! The wooden necklace that Hannah wore with the plaid dress when she went to the bar was actually from my own closet. I tend to collect things here and there – it’s an occupational hazard! A lot of Hannah’s jewellery was jewellery I used to wear when I was about her age, it sort of fits her for where she is – I guess it’s come full circle.
Hannah’s wardrobe choices are often as comical as her dialogue – is that intentional? Hannah is very comical and so some of the choices we make are driven by comedy and her somewhat ill-advised choices. It’s the same with her look.
How much input does Lena have on the costumes? Does she ever write them into the script? Lena has so much imagination and is really inspiring and that goes for the whole show – there are some things in the script that are incredibly funny and can be quite challenging to convey so we’re always prepared at every turn to make something, modify something or go on a shopping expedition to come up with just the right piece for filming.
What has been the most challenging request so far? The season finale (SPOILER ALERT!) wedding presented a challenge as the characters were placed in a scenario we hadn’t previously visited in the series. They’re not quite sure where they’re going – Jessa has just told them to dress up.
And finally… where, oh where, did you get those matching onesies Adam and Hannah wear?! They’re union suits. We bought them new because they needed to be exactly the same and getting them vintage wouldn’t guarantee that so we bought them from this place which does reproductions and all sorts of amazing vintage-inspired wardrobe pieces. We ordered a few options and went for the ones that had the best fit, or lack thereof, and coloured them – distressed them, stained them – to look as though they had been around for a while in Adam’s world.
Girls airs Mondays at 10pm on Sky Atlantic HD.
Text: Frankie Mathieson