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Madeline Weeks, the sartorial mind behind Donald Glover’s hit comedy/drama/action reboot, gives insight on the best-dressed series of the year (so far!)

Updated: Mar 11

[THE MAIN EVENT]




UpRising: Mr. & Mrs. Smith is your first television series—your background is in editorial. As a costume designer, was there any similarity to your print approach?


Madeline Weeks: I came from magazines; I was fashion director at GQ for 20 years. Putting together shoots for GQ, I always thought narratively. I was working with a lot of actors—I realized there was a self-consciousness for actors who are so used to playing a role. So we'd always try to create a story so they didn't feel like a model. I felt I could get everybody on board if I was like, “Somebody's chasing you,” or whatever the idea was, depending on the fashion. So I’d storyboard that out with the photographer, then choose locations and vibes for the fashion.


With [Mr. & Mrs. Smith], I put together some mood boards; for Jane [Smith], it was Jane Birkin, Carolyn Bessette, young Jane Fonda. A mix of inspirations. My ideas [for John Smith] were ‘60s and ‘70s. A little retro: Robert Redford, Steve McQueen. Icon. Leading man. Smoldering guy that everybody is like, “Whoa, he looks amazing.” But subtle—you don't want that to be distracting. When you see him in the kitchen cooking chicken soup, he's wearing a Rick Owens tank top because those tank tops are sick. Everybody looks great in Rick Owens tank tops.


Every single thing [Donald Glover] wears—and pretty much everybody—is really considered. We would tailor and have fittings and talk about how things fit, how he ran in something, the colors. We wanted that element of luxury, things that could be coveted, but not scream fashion. Beautiful classics. His green leather jacket in that first episode is Celine, and the jeans he's wearing are vintage Levis. We tailored them a little short, so you could see those cream socks. The heavy-soled shoe harkens back to [John’s] military background. The challenge was to be able to do all that and then spring into action. They had to be able to move and jump and run.


The fashion feels like a character in itself. It tells a story of its own. And as you watch them go through their journey as spies, you see their styles elevate.


That is very true. John loves nice things, so he likes to go shopping. He does a mission, he gets paid, and he might buy himself a new watch or a beautiful handmade cardigan. Jane will wear things that are more practical, but very beautiful, elegant, cozy and well-cut… By the time they get to Italy, they're feeling really good about being John and Jane. They've kind of become them. The fashion and their style really reflects that. All of a sudden John's wearing a bathing suit, a beautiful sweater, and a beautiful watch. There's an effortless luxury. When they go skiing, I wanted an old-school vibe, so I referenced Downhill Racer and On Her Majesty's Secret Servicean old James Bond movie. There are a lot of primary colors and a glamour to the Alps. That was our goal.


Do you have a favorite look from the series?


My favorite episode is the finale—that idea of who can you trust, who's a good guy, who's a bad guy. We wanted [Donald] to be in all white or ivory and [Maya Erskine] to be all in dark or navy or black, and have that play against each other. I love when you see them in the Whitney Museum. The minute you see him pop the collar on his Fear of God windbreaker—I love that brand—it's like, game on. When they're locked in that safe room, the fact that Jane is in this tank top feels very vulnerable and beautiful. I love that she's [dressed] dark and he's in light. I love the silhouette, the idea of a mock neck on him. It's a very ’60s moment. And that cashmere is very thin. That's important, too. I wanted you to feel his physicality underneath his clothes.


Stylewise, how could the everyday viewer keep up with the Smiths?


Anything you put on should make you feel good. The way it makes you feel is more important than the way you look to somebody else. That's the way I try to approach it. There's lots of brands at all price ranges—Uniqlo is fantastic. Try things on, look at yourself in the mirror, and if it makes you look and feel great, that's a winner. If it doesn't—you don't love it, but you wear it anyway—maybe you don't need that.​You can watch Mr. & Mrs. Smith now on Prime Video. Pop some tags on the characters’ on-screen looks over at wornontv.net.


 

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