Tonight, Fargo returns for its second season. But don’t expect the FX drama, which is based on the 1996 Coen brothers movie of the same name, to be anything like season one. For its latest chapter starring Kirsten Dunst, Jean Smart, Ted Danson, and Patrick Wilson, the show is heading back to 1979 South Dakota and Minnesota. And while Fargo’s signature dark comedy will still be front and center in the reboot about drug gangs and diner killings, there is one thing that will be drastically different this time around: The wardrobe.
“Costume-wise, we started from scratch,” the show’s costume designer, Carol Case, recently told InStyle. “We wanted it to feel really small-town America.” That came naturally when dressing Dunst, who plays a local beautician named Peggy Blumquist. “She’s trying hard to be fashion-forward with what the small town has to offer her,” said Case. “She’s the girl who reads all the fashion magazines and has always dreamed of going to Los Angeles, even though she works in a beauty salon.” And Dunst’s character is hands-on when it comes to her wardrobe. “She orders pieces from catalogs and then alters them to be more stylish,” said Case. “You’ll see that she even keeps a sewing machine in the living room of her house.”
Just like her character, Dunst was ready to try out any retro styles that came her way. “She wanted to be as true to the time as possible and embraced the whole ‘70s idea,” said Case, adding that Dunst “wasn’t at all squeamish” about testing out the decade’s trends. “She wears a few pairs of high-waisted jeans, which just made her long legs look even longer. Then we mixed and matched different blouses and vintage sweaters with the same jeans.” While Dunst’s character has her staples, Case also incorporated some more daring pieces into her wardrobe. “She wears a few fun pieces, like a culottes pant-suit,” said Case. “It’s something we don’t see as often, but it looks really great paired with boots.”
There’s plenty of winter wear on the show, which takes place during the Midwest's chilliest months. “You have to cover up just to survive,” said Case. But Dunst’s buttoned-up looks do more than just provide warmth. They also reflect her character’s modest upbringing. “The area she lives in is a bit more conservative,” said Case. “So we don’t show the cleavage that you’d see on something more urban, like American Hustle.”
Still, Peggy had to stand out. “She's like the girl next door who had been on the high school’s cheerleading team,” said Case. “We wanted to keep her girly, yet give her a bit of fashion-forwardness and flavor that not everyone in the small town had.” One of Dunst’s most memorable pieces throughout the season is a red and blue patterned winter coat (pictured at top). And there was more than one on set. “We actually had to make four of them,” said Case. “Without letting the cat out of the bag, there’s a lot of activity that happens later on this season while she’s wearing it.”
While Case designed some pieces, including the coat, she also rented vintage pieces from local stores in Calgary, the Canadian city where the show filmed. But that was mostly just for the rural characters. “We really tried to keep the small-town people looking different from the bad guys who come in from the city,” said Case.
To create sleeker looks for the show's urban characters, Case turned her search to one metropolis in particular. “I went online and bought a bunch of clothes made in New York,” she said, noting that the show's small-town characters simply wouldn't have been able to score designer goods so easily back then. “Fashion is available at a click nowadays, but it wasn’t possible for people to do that in the ‘70s," said Case. "They had to make more of an effort.”
Fargo premieres tonight at 10 p.m. EST on FX. Check out a trailer for the show below.