For new jet setter Midge, the Paris streets are suddenly her runway.
Well, that’s mostly thanks to her mama, Miriam, who has fled to the city of light in search of her former life. Just like that, Amy Sherman-Palladino‘s burgeoning hit comic hops on a plane (for the first time) and heads to France with her worried father, simultaneously kicking off the highly-anticipated season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
While Midge’s family life is once again turned on its head, at least we can always count on the series’ consistently marvelous clothes. Even the lead of the show can’t help but notice the impeccable style on the sidewalk. “Oh, that hat is fabulous,” Midge points out as one impossibly chic woman rushes by. “Wow, that one’s even better,” she observes of another.
“Hey, hey—will you stop shopping?” dad Abe impatiently begs.
Midge and family’s unexpected trip to Paris and later holiday in the Catskills offer viewers exciting new settings and equally as great costume possibilities.
“This season was a little bit more developed than season one in that we go into the summer, we’re in Paris,” the show’s costume designer Donna Zakowska explained to E! News. “I sort of approached the initial look for her—I always say it’s like the elaborate stewardess. Midge has never traveled, she’s in her little plaid outfit…it was like her romantic vision of like what a stewardess would look like when she’d get off a plane.”
The setting and time period combined also brought a new challenge to the costuming: “trying to get the extras right, really making them look French versus American,” Zakowska said.
Before long, Midge is back on the move mid-season with a family getaway in the summer of 1959, “the one time before we go further in this story where she returns a little bit to childhood being with her parents,” Zakowska pointed out. As any fashionista who’s ever taken a trip understands, packing is of the most daunting tasks—and Midge and Miriam hilariously capture the process when they essentially insist on bringing every article of clothing they own, down to the beach robes they never wear.
To figure out what all those clothes would actually look like—and because of the lack of documentation—Zakowska thought about what “leisure [would] have meant to people who are from an urban city—the gray, dark urban world of New York,” she told E! News. “Suddenly they go to this place, which is their Miami Beach.” Cue all of the colors!
Needless to say, Midge takes full sartorial advantage of the trip, beginning with the look Rachel Brosnahancould not forget. “When we first arrive in the Catskills, there’s an incredible head-to-toe yellow ensemble,” the actress noted, completed with a unique yellow fascinator.
“It’s about having fun,” Zakowska noted. “There’s a great deal of humor about the whole way the Catskills happened.”
Of course, lakeside vacations inevitably include bathings suits. “I would say the bathing suit was tricky, the two-piece bathing suit,” Zakowska said. “It’s a very vulnerable look. She had to sort of wander around in this…[Rachel] and I first thought, ‘Oh maybe we should really be in a one-piece bathing suit,’ but the whole joke and the whole thrust was that she had this bathing suit.”
“The more you expose a person’s body, the harder a costume becomes,” she noted.
Dressing a show like this is also a challenge in numbers alone. Zakowska estimated that they created about 5,000 costumes for this season, including more than 1,000 extras they dressed for the Paris episodes and roughly 400 for the principal characters. “It’s as big as any feature film could possibly be,” she told E! News.
Roughly 95 percent of the principal outfits were custom-made, she said, with the French costumes actually pulled from Paris and other garments from Los Angeles or online.
While the story drives the need for certain outfits, Zakowska also referenced particular style icons between the first and second seasons in building Midge’s aesthetic. “In season one, Audrey Hepburn was a little bit of a muse and in season two, Grace Kelly was a little bit of a muse,” she said, noting Kelly’s Hitchcock movie scarves and elegant ’50s casual looks. “I refer to her quite a lot.”
With more episodes, Midge’s overall style is taking clearer shape, including her burgeoning signature accessory: hats.
“When she puts the hat on, she really feels like Midge and it really sort of completes the silhouette,” Zakowska said. “The hats actually mean a lot to us.”
As her comic persona grows, Midge is also developing a stage uniform made up of a black cocktail dress and pearls. Why? It grew out of her two worlds, Zakowska explained, merging the darker tones of the Beatnik downtown with her housewife role, finished off with a dash of Hollywood influence.
“There was a little bit of an inspiration also about Joan Rivers being in a cocktail dress with pearls,” the designer revealed. “It was like how do you combine her interests in downtown and also her interests in still remaining Midge, still being a woman who is representing herself as a mother and as a housewife…it had to really have all of it going on at once.”
Season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is streaming on Amazon Prime now.