”Insecure” costume designer Ayanna James believes relatability is the key to the show’s styling success, and she aims for authenticity when dressing the star of the show, Issa Rae.
“I feel like every character on the show is relatable,” she says. “You either know someone like that or you’ve been that person at a period in your life.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that James and Rae began collaborating after Issa’s web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” started gaining viral status.
via L.A. Times:
Formerly a biochemistry student, the Jamaican-born aesthete tested her styling wings by fashion blogging, assisting on local shoots and pulling looks for entertainers including Usher and Jidenna. Since 2015, she’s headed “Insecure’s” fashion team and draped Rae in red carpet looks by brands and designers such as Balmain and Christian Siriano.
Samples of costumes from “Insecure” are now on display through Oct. 7 in FIDM Museum’s annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design exhibit.
“A lot of the elements that I use that are pop culture-related, they’re easily noticeable within black culture,” she says. “If it’s something that’s influenced or inspired us, I’m going to use it. It’s a way to invite the viewer into this world.”
James say she and her team shop where she feels the characters would shop.
“Molly’s fly,” James says of the attorney played by Yvonne Orji. “If she wasn’t a lawyer, she would probably be an editor at a fashion magazine. She loves labels and high-end designers, but she would shop online a lot. She doesn’t like going to the mall, right? That’s too much.”
James wanted to push the envelop for the Season 2 premiere and finale. So she went with a bold and controversial sweatshirt from Omondi that displayed of the N-word.
“I know that costumes on television are prime real estate,” James says. “I can use that platform to educate … to promote … to influence how the viewer feels.” James has encouraged her costume department to put out feelers on the ground. “I’m saying, ‘Go to your contacts, go to your homies who make T-shirts. Show me what they’re doing and we’ll see if we can plug it into the show.’ So, it feels very grassroots. It feels very ‘lift as you climb.’”
Season 2 of “Insecure” ended over the weekend, and HBO has renewed the show for a third season.
“I want to continue to break indie brands and bring exposure to black and brown designers,” she says. “Let’s make this a communal thing.”
(Photo Credit: Instagram)
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