This past Tuesday, New York Women and Film & Television (NYWIFT) and Variety presented the 20th Anniversary Designing Women Awards at the Directors Guild of America Theater.
Since 2000, the annual NYWIFT-established awards honor a makeup artist, a hair stylist, and a costume designer. The organization also presents the Variety Ensemble Award honoring the entire costume, hair, and makeup design team of a single film or television program.
The mood at the awards was exuberant. If I had to name the theme of the night, it was cheering and applause. Comedian Zainab Johnson’s off-the-cuff hilarious performance as emcee lent a familial quality to the whole affair.
This evening’s first award went to Riccie Johnson, CBS’s makeup artist for over 60 years. Johnson’s storied career spans the television eras of black and white, color, and high definition. She’s powdered and prepped everyone from The Beatles to Frank Sinatra to several US presidents. Her coworker at CBS and iconic TV journalist Lesley Stahl presented the award.
The next award went to hair stylist Shunika Terry, whose work includes the locks featured on “Atlanta” and on “House of Cards.” She found her passion for hair at a young age, from cutting the hair of neighborhood kids in childhood to running an impromptu salon out of her college dorm room. “Atlanta” star Zazie Beetz presented the award.
The award for costume designer went to Michele Clapton, who developed eight seasons of looks for “Game of Thrones.” She won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Costumes for a Series for Game of Thrones, and another in 2017 for her work on “The Crown.” Executive vice president, West Coast Production of HBO Janet Graham Borba presented the award.
Finally, the ensemble award went to the design team of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Costume department head Donna Zakowska and Makeup Department head Patricia Regan accepted the award. Hair Department head Jerry DeCarlo was unable to attend. The collaboration and teamwork that this design team embody is obvious from their work on screen, and in person. When Zakowska and Regan stepped on stage to accept their award, they insisted the entire department join them. “Mrs. Maisel” stars Caroline Aaron, Rachel Brosnahan, and Marin Hinkle presented the award.
We caught up with a couple guests on the red carpet. Check out the interviews below!
The Knockturnal: Is there anything you’re particularly excited about tonight?
Patricia Regan: I’m just excited to be part of it, to be here with everyone else. I remember I got the makeup award 11 years ago and so I’m curious to see how they’re doing now. I think the event has changed a lot. It really seems a lot bigger than it used to be.
The Knockturnal: I’m curious about some of the preparation you did to design the makeup looks for Mrs. Maisel. What was that process like? What kind of research did you have to do?
Patricia Regan: A lot a lot a lot of photos. Photos of fashion, but also just real people. We went through archives, magazines, any publication, life magazines, beauty ads of course, to get the real deal. We looked at a lot of fabrics, colors, tried to get as many authentic pieces from the time. I looked at movies too, but a lot of times movies are a Hollywood interpretation of the time, so it’s not true to the period necessarily. Some of it is. We take what we like.
The Knockturnal: Is there anyone you really enjoy working with on set or to do makeup for?
Patricia Regan: We have a really nice cast, so I can’t – I work with Rachel and Marin a lot and I love them, so I feel lucky every day. Every day is a good day for me. It’s not always like that, so I feel very fortunate. But overall it’s a really nice cast. We work really long hours and get very tired so it’s especially lovely to be with people that you enjoy being with.
The Knockturnal: Do you have a favorite era of makeup?
Patricia Regan: I do like the 50s, clearly I like the 50s. I’ve done quite a bit of 50s. I’ve done other movies set in the 50s, early 50s. But I also like 20s and 30s. 20s, 30s, 50s, are probably my favorite.
The Knockturnal: What is it like to work with Donna and the rest of the design team? What is that process like?
Rachel Brosnahan: Yeah it’s been a dream collaboration. Donna needs no help coming up with these brilliant designs and imagining these beautiful colors and textures and shapes. When I come into my first fittings for each new episode, I suddenly feel like I understand the episode in a new way because Donna’s not just a costume designer. She’s a storyteller and world-builder. She’s so meticulous about understanding Midge’s inner life and emotional journey and that helps me understand her as well.
The Knockturnal: What kind of preparation did you have to do for this role? What did you find most challenging about fitting into this role as Midge?
Rachel Brosnahan: I did a lot of preparation, a lot of research about comedy and comedians during the 1950s, New York in the 1950s, what kinds of undergarments women wore. It’s a lot of them! Spoiler alert!
The Knockturnal: The costumes must be their own kind of challenge because the clothing was so much more restrictive and there were so many different parts to it. How was that transitioning into wearing that all the time on set?
Rachel Brosnahan: It changes the way that I walk. It changes the way that I carry myself. It even changes the way I speak because I breathe differently. I’m restricted in different ways than I’m used to in modern-day clothes. The costumes have been a vital part of the transformation. I don’t feel complete until I have the whole look on head to toe.
The Knockturnal: I love your new blonde look! Would Midge ever dye her hair blonde?
Rachel Brosnahan: She did! In the pilot of the show, Midge was a blonde in college. She bleached her hair and her bush! She stayed blonde for a little bit and then ultimately went back to her roots. And this is actually the same for me. I’m a natural blonde and I spent a long time being a dark brunette, so it’s back my roots for the time being. But I’m sure I’ll be back dark sometime soon.