How Vinyl's Costume Designer Created the Ultimate Glam Rock Wardrobe
Seeing as how the '70s epitomized boho-chic, it's fitting that Vinyl, HBO's eagerly anticipated new Martin Scorsese-produced series set in the drug-fueled decade, would pay sartorial homage to it. And for all of the high-waisted bell bottoms, blocked platforms, and psychadelic prints we see onscreen, we have John Dunn to thank.
For his latest project, the New York-based costume designer, who defined the '20s and '60s fashion lexicon on Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, dug deep into the dawn of punk, disco, and hip-hop. We talked to him about his vintage shopping strategies and what it was like styling Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, and newcomer Juno Temple. Here's an excerpt from our conversation:
What does your artistic process entail? Do you typically begin with the script?
The first step is always discussing the script with the producers and figuring out what I need to immerse myself in, sartorially. For this particular project, I spent a lot of time in the '70s—listening to music and watching documentaries about Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin. I also talked to a lot of people who were around then to get into the mindset of what they were excited about clothing-wise.
Which designers did you look at, primarily? And where did you shop?
A lot of Ossie Clark and Yves Saint Laurent. There was also a great leather manufacturer, East West, that created pants and jackets emblazoned with amazing artwork on the back. We visited a lot of vendors who were deeply steeped in the period: Ritual Vintage on the Lower East Side, 10 Ft. Single by Stella Dallas in Brooklyn, and Decades in L.A. There's also such strong '70s clothing out there right now, so we were able to dip into that, too. John Varvatos had awesome leather jackets, Madewell had great cropped flares, and Topshop had everything.
What were the hardest clothing items to track down?
Men's platforms. They were only sold for three or four years, but we managed to amass a phenomenal collection. Also, the prints during that decade were very specific. Our challenge was to reproduce the crazy drug-induced patterns that the designers were coming up with at the time.
Bobby's character seems to really be going through the motions this season. Will his wardrobe reflect that?
We wanted to really maintain the well-tailored look of his clothing. Despite the fact that his world is crumbling, he's got enough savvy to know that he needs to keep up his presentation. On the other hand, he's on the hunt for the new music, so later on he starts becoming more downtown and opts for more denim and less rigid officewear.
Was there one iconic look that you're particularly proud of?
Throughout the season, Olivia Wilde's character is discovering her true self, which is more artsy-bohemian than Connecticut housewife. There's this one scene of her when she breaks free and is walking down the street in Manhattan wearing a burgundy velvet jacket, platforms, and a big floppy hat that I love.
Which cast members really took to the clothing?
Juno [Temple]'s a huge vintage junkie, so she was beyond enthusiastic about doing the '70s. We didn't restrain ourselves from giving her really cool clothing, even though when we first meet her, she's the person who has to go run and get the coffee. Still, she has her eye on the prize, and she dresses the part.
Watch the trailer for Vinyl below, and tune in to the series premiere on Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.