Hello there 🙂
Any of my friends can tell you this if I don't recommend it Which designers should you support now? or the best things to buyI discuss the latest shows and movies to watch. Sure, like everyone else, I'm a sucker for stylish characters or even semi-terrible TV, but I don't mess around when it comes to recommendations exquisite Art because it can be therapeutic. With that in mind, let me recommend the latest on my must-see list: Hulu's most recent debut, Billie Holiday versus the United States.
Directed by Lee Daniels, the film brings to life the tragic death of one of the greatest jazz stars, suspected of drug abuse, violent relationships, and a career-driven spiked operation by the F.B.I. This is certainly not the first time a film has shown government surveillance of black artists political movements, It is Holiday's struggle to bring to light civil inequalities through their popular music that makes this film so powerful. It was the musician's boneless song about lynching. Strange fruit (1954), which made her famous. In particular, with the release of this tune, government censorship began. Of course, that didn't stop them from playing it in the south. And it is this fiery spirit that invaded every aspect of her life, her art and of course her iconic style.
If I haven't already sold you why you need to see this movie, you'll hear from them in advance The film's costume designer, Paolo Nieddu, on what it was like to create a Billie Holiday-inspired wardrobe for Andra Day and how the process felt like a therapy session.
For those unfamiliar with your work, can you tell our readers about yourself?
I'm a costume designer and have been in film and television since 2007 – over fifteen years, even though it feels like there are two. I've worked with Lee Daniels rich and with Patricia Field for the Sex and the City Films as well as with Anna Tolben, the fashion director Interview magazine for a time.
What is your favorite project so far and why?
Wow, I have to say Billie Holiday versus the United States. It's one of the newest projects I've been working on, but it was a challenge and that made it fun and exciting. It was my first time working on a historical piece so I loved that. I have a personal preference for vintage and the era the film is set in, which made the project particularly exciting.
Why Billie Holiday versus the United States? What was it about this project that interested you?
I was definitely interested in the time. It was set in the late 40's and we did the mid-50's too, which was a big draw. The glamor of Billie Holiday was alluring to me. I didn't know much about Billie Holiday in terms of her personal life before the project, but I was drawn to her essence.
What was it like working with Lee Daniels to bring this movie to life?
Lee Daniels is an outsider. He brings all of his departments together and weeds with everything. (I mean that best.) It's such a practical, creative process to work with – it's an artist-to-artist experience. He urges us all to tell a story, be it our production design, the acting, the music that was chosen and the wardrobe that was created. Daniels just has this way of creating layered storytelling. This film isn't just that glamorous biography – it explores many facets of humanity.
How does designing costumes for a historical piece differ from contemporary works?
When it comes to creating costumes for a historical play, the process is much more careful than when creating costumes for a contemporary movie. If it's not a historical film, you can go to a department store and fill the locker room with a clothes rack that just needs to be changed. In the case of historical films, however, the costumes need to be researched. If you want to find specific pieces, you need to get them from vintage stores or specialty stores. Once you find them, clothing and accessories can be fragile if they are vintage. And if you are building costumes from scratch, it will take a lot more time.
How long did you prepare and research costumes for this film? How long did it take for these costumes to come to life?
We had eight weeks to prepare for the film and we shot it for three months. The process of sourcing costumes for the film started two months before filming, and I worked with Prada on some of the first looks we shot. When we started filming, we sourced and finalized costumes with our tailors and seamstresses based on what we were going to shoot next. Because of the schedule and the question of whether or not they were made to measure, the looks were widespread in time.
Can you tell us about the process of creating costumes for Andra Day as Billie Holiday? Have you worked with other team members? What did this process look like for you?
The costumes were a culmination of various teams, inspirations, and sources. I prepared early with Andra Day in Los Angeles to develop a vision for the style of Holiday and then had an amazing team that helped me bring it to life. Based in Los Angeles and Montreal, the team were of great help in creating many of the original costumes (such as the Billie Holiday Carnegie Hall gown). In addition to having a whole team creating pieces from scratch, I pulled and bought vintage pieces online.
Some elements of the costumes were pen on paper, others were authentic vintage or vintage-inspired remakes. Often times I would find a vintage piece that I loved that was unusable because it was stained or falling apart. So we redone it for the film. For example, when Billie Holiday wears a suit in the movie, she leaves the train station. I found this suit and we made the matching hat, inspired by an image I found of Billie Holiday. Every costume in the movie had its own story – it was like a piece by piece, look-to-look type.
Did you get a lot of the costume inspiration from historical documentation, or did you choose a more creative agency with the look of Holiday?
It was a combination of the two that would bring parts of their documented life together in the film; We had pictures to take off. And then, in the other moments, we had no documentation for it, we could imagine, and we had to take our liberties. A lot of Billie Holiday's photos are in black and white so we had to come up with the colors and patterns we wanted. And that's why I worked directly with our production designer and director in those moments to define what Holiday should be at that moment.
The amazing thing about the costumes in this movie is that they do an incredible job and not only take you back in time, but also have a sense of old Hollywood glamor – what do you think best embodies the fashion of the time?
That's a good question; I feel like the clothes helped. Holiday's show presence was so glamorous. But I think all the details – like her jewelry, live orchids, and her accessories – gave it that overall glamorous look.
When you talk about the jewelry, tell us how you sourced pieces for the movie. Where are they vintage? Or new, vintage-inspired pieces?
Much of the jewelry was vintage. I always have an idea of the jewelry in my head. Then on the day of filming, with the actor wearing the hair, makeup, and costume, I'll pull a tray of jewelry together and let them try on and see what it looks like – something like a real woman's time would take on hers Dressing vanity. And the jewelry for this film is mostly vintage; I found it on 1st Dibs, eBay, Esty. There was only one pair of earrings in the movie that weren't vintage, and it was in the scene she's singing in God bless a child. We took inspiration from Billy Holiday in 1958 when we wore these Georg Jensen earrings for this scene. They still do them; They're a little different, but the brand loaned us a pair that were the most modern jewelry that they wore.
In addition to the jewelry, Billie Holiday wears opera gloves in the film. Can you tell us about it?
Yes. When you think of Billie Holiday, seeing her wearing gloves while performing was an icon. Of course, they were used as a disguise for her needle marks, but aside from the flowers in her hair, they were her signature accessory. There was no stretch or elastic fabric for the film and at the time the film was made, and I didn't want shiny, weird opera gloves that looked new, so we made them bespoke for Andra's shape. It had black and white silk jersey versions as well as lace jersey versions.
What did you want to say when you came up with a concept for the look of Billie Holiday? What role do you think they played in developing your story?
I always wanted to capture her as a star, as a glamorous person who made it and who shows her wealth in certain scenes or pretends to be okay in certain situations. Clothing is armor, and it shows it with many of its looks. I also wanted to make sure that I was honored that if something happened to you in real life, you didn't know what to expect right now. So I didn't want her approach to style changing based on the plot. If a scene was particularly sad or dramatic, I didn't want to dress it up in anticipation of something bad. I always wanted to be beautiful, even when the moment wasn't.
Billie Holiday lived life on her terms. How did you create costumes that honored who she was?
Research has helped me figure out who Billie Holiday was as an individual. I read her biography lady Sing the blues, and heard a ton of their music. Already in my picture research I could see how modern she was in terms of her fashion choices. I would look at a picture and think, "This is so nervous." From discovering that she kept performing Strange fruit To fight for what she believed in, to know she was bisexual, and to see how risky she was with fashion, I could see that she was the type of woman who didn't care what other people thought. She was modern and open and did not apologize. I always kept that in mind with their costumes, and that led to my choosing colors, cutouts, or outfitting them in the film.
There are so many great costumes in this movie. Did you have a favorite
Yes, Mrs. Freedy, who played Miss Lawerence, was one of the most challenging characters she costumes for in the movie and a personal favorite. Billie Holiday mentions him in her book and research shows he exists, but there are no photos of the man. We know he was part of their glamorous team; she mentions that he dressed her and caught him putting on their furs and clothes in her autobiography. So Freddy was difficult. I wanted to get it right and give it its style and set it apart, but not make it a caricature. I didn't want him to feel overly costumed, so I had to think, "What would this guy wear?" This is obviously someone who can be the most authentic self in public at this time, so it was a fine line how to attract him.
Was there anything you learned about Billie Holiday through this project that you may not have known before?
I didn't realize this until I was reading her book, listening to her music, and working on that particular story of the extent to which Holiday went through. She had to fight to be where she was, and even when she got there, she still had to fight. It went so far beyond their music and their image. I was overwhelmed by their story. It was constantly used as a commodity. Whether through funding a person's lifestyle while they work and perform, or through the establishment of various partners in their life. That was annoying to learn.
Why is it important to share this film and aspect of Holiday's story right now?
As I was making this movie, I kept thinking about how crazy it is that all of this is still happening. We were and are on this long road for civil rights in this country. there aren't any Anti-Lynch Lawsand we're still dealing with the same issues.
Additionally, this story is important because people don't know how much a lawyer Holiday was, how difficult their life was, and how stylish it was for the time. Artists express themselves through a variety of media, including their clothing, whether it is a political statement or their sexuality or point of view in any way. I feel like Holiday's avant-garde approach to fashion, art and life was something that I hopefully got across on screen.
Next: Fashion politics in Judas and the Black Messiah