THE '80s, AS SEEN ON 'THE AMERICANS'
On the FX series, Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell play Soviet spies embedded outside Washington, D.C., in 1982, working to help the USSR win the Cold War while they raise their two kids. “The costumes are there to put you in a time and place” says designer Jenny Gering. “Yes, it’s the ’80s, but the show takes place in Falls Church, Virginia. There, it’s really 1979. Besides, the ‘80s as we think of them hit in 1984. This is not a Pat Benatar video—that’s just not the way it was.”
'80s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'THE AMERICANS': 'AMERICAN GIGOLO'
In the first two seasons, Gering says, Matthew Rhys’ costumes as Philip Jennings were inspired by Richard Gere’s subdued Armani suits in the 1980 Paul Schrader film.
'80s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'THE AMERICANS': DURAN DURAN
Rhys’ look in season 3 calls to mind the seeds of a certain ’80s rock sensibility. Says Gering: “This season, we’re starting down the road toward Duran Duran.”
LATE '70s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'THE AMERICANS': MAXELL'S AUDIOTAPE AD
“For me, Philip will always be the Maxell-tape guy in the chair,” Gering says. “He’s just excited to be in America.”
'80s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'THE AMERICANS': BROOKE SHIELDS
“Of course, Keri’s wearing Calvin Klein jeans on the show,” Gering says.
'80s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'THE AMERICANS': HELMUT NEWTON
Keri Russell’s Elizabeth Jennings adopts a sophisticated style inspired by vintage Vogues and the work of the acclaimed fashion photographer.
'80s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'THE AMERICANS': CATHERINE DENEUVE
The actress, pictured here in 1983’s The Hunger with David Bowie, was ”a model for Keri’s character for me,” says Gering, along with…
'80s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'THE AMERICANS': LAUREN HUTTON
“In 1982, I was about 13,” Gering says. Copies of Vogue magazine took her back to that time; cover model Lauren Hutton was another style touchstone for Gering in regard to Russell’s character.
THE '90S, AS SEEN ON 'FRESH OFF THE BOAT'
For ABC’s comedy about a Taiwanese family who relocate from Chinatown in D.C. to Orlando, costumer Debra McGuire has to be both nuanced and general. “I’m making it 1995,” she says. “The mission of network TV is to be very reflective of the times, but it’s also got to be relatable to the kids.”
'90s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'FRESH OFF THE BOAT': NIKES
“It was about hip-hop culture in ’95,” says McGuire. “Jewelry, sneakers, and matching everything.”
'90s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'FRESH OFF THE BOAT': RAP MUSIC
“I look at a lot of hip-hop too,” says McGuire. “Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Wu-Tang Clan, and Snoop, of course!”
'90s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'FRESH OFF THE BOAT': 'FRIENDS'
McGuire was the costume designer on Friends, so she’s essentially a ‘90s historian. “That decade is a big part of my language,” she says.
'90s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'FRESH OFF THE BOAT': 'MY SO-CALLED LIFE'
Also on her mood boards: plenty of other ‘90s fare like Claire Danes’ series and Full House.
'90s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'FRESH OFF THE BOAT': 'FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR'
Will Smith’s ’90s hit was another influence on McGuire while developing the look for the show.
'90s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'FRESH OFF THE BOAT': 'RUGRATS'
The bright use of color on the ‘90s animated hit was one of McGuire’s primary inspirations.
THE '70S, AS SEEN ON 'MAD MEN'
The calendar turned to 1970 in the final season of AMC’s hit. “But this is really a show about the ‘60s,” insists costume designer Janie Bryant.
'70s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'MAD MEN': 'BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS'
Bryant looked at ultra-‘70s movies like this one for inspiration.
'70s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'MAD MEN': ANJELICA HUSTON AND HALSTON
Expect to see a little designer glitter going on in the show’s final season, including over-the-top outfits by Oscar de la Renta and Halston, who came to define disco-era couture. “Halston really changed American fashion in the ‘70s, and Anjelica Huston modeled for him,” says Bryant. “I was looking at her, too.”
'70s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'MAD MEN': SEARS CATALOGS
Bryant pores over old product publications from Sears and JCPenney. “The references I love,” Bryant says, “are not high fashion. It’s what people were wearing.”
'70s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'MAD MEN': PRESIDENT NIXON
Bryant points to a disparate group of costume influences on the show’s seventh season, including the man in the White House in 1970, but also stretching to styles associated with Michael Caine, and with LSD culture.
'70s REFERENCE POINT FOR 'MAD MEN': WOODSTOCK
Groovy styles influenced by the massive rock festival helped set the tone for the series’ final season. Says Bryant: “This is a story about everyday people.”