One original cast member is coming back, though.

By Samantha Simon
Jul 31, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Jay Maidment/Hulu

Mindy Kaling, Hollywood multi-hyphenate and rom-com superfan, is trying her hand at the reboot game. She serves as creator on the latest re-imagining of a pop-culture classic with Hulu’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, a series based on the beloved 1994 film that starred Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell. And as Kaling began imagining her take on the unlucky-in-love story, it was only fitting that she tapped her longtime collaborator, costume designer Salvador Perez, to bring her vision to life. 

“When Mindy called me up, she said, ‘I want you to do for the cast of Four Weddings and a Funeral what you did for me on The Mindy Project,’” Perez tells InStyle ahead of the show’s premiere (the first four episodes are streaming on Hulu today). “The thing is, on The Mindy Project, Mindy was a fashionista — but she was really the only one. The rest of the world was sort of just in contemporary clothes. In this world, I actually got to elevate everybody’s looks, and it was fun to be given leeway to make the entire cast look fabulous.” 

The series filmed in Notting Hill, giving it the same London feel as its namesake. But in Kaling’s creation, which centers on a politically-minded New Yorker named Maya (played by Nathalie Emmanuel) who travels to England for a friend’s wedding, that’s where the similarities stop. The show is inspired by [the film] very loosely, so for people who are looking for the traditional movie, this is not it,” says Perez. “Mindy flipped the characters around, so now they’re [mostly] girls instead of boys. She made it multicultural and brought Americans in. She really just took the concept of a rom-com and did her own way of it. And she named it Four Weddings and a Funeral!” 

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Of course, there are still four weddings…and a funeral. For Perez, it was important to kick the wardrobe into high gear for those key events. “When you’re doing a show called Four Weddings and A Funeral, the weddings have to be spectacular,” he says. “The first wedding is the most traditional British wedding, so we had the cast in traditional morning suits because that’s how the movie started. So I wanted that as a little homage to the original film. But when people ask, ‘Oh, are there Easter eggs?’ I just say no. My characters are so different from the original characters! There was no reason to dress them alike.”

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One costume you can count on seeing, besides standard wedding and funeral attire? “There are a few kilts in there,” says Perez. “But that’s only because I love a man in a kilt — not just because there were kilts in the original movie!” Scroll down for behind-the-scenes photos and more revelations from Perez, including the excitement surrounding the return of a star from the original.

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On the most glamorous character…

"Rebecca Rittenhouse’s character, Ainsley, is a rich Dallas socialite who lives in London. She’s an interior decorator, so I really wanted her to be the ultimate fashionista. Everything she wears is a statement; it’s all very thought out. She wears chic little hats and great suits and just very coordinated outfits." 

Salvador Perez

"We found this amazing red suit and blouse at Pinko that we paired with pink Gucci sunglasses, a pink coat, a Boyy bag and Jimmy Choo shoes. When you see an outfit together, it’s just epic. One of her lines when she wears it is, ‘The bitch is back.’ It’s so good. To this day, that’s Mindy’s favorite outfit of the show." 

On dressing the very American lead character…

"Maya, who’s played by Nathalie Emmanuel, works in politics. So her style is very conservative. We kept her in suits, but they have an edge — either patterns or a pop of color. We mixed in some Roland Mouret dresses, too. She’s definitely more tailored, but in her free time we kept her casual in jeans and sweaters. We just had fun with her character. She was supposed to be the behind-the-scenes political person, but you know, it’s Four Weddings and a Funeral. I had to make her fabulous. I bought up every Reiss suit I could find in London!"

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On taking inspo from the Brits…

"I definitely wanted to honor English designers. In London, I can’t be buying the traditional American designers I’m used to buying. It was great to discover brands that I wasn’t really familiar with, like Claudie Pierlot and Whistles, and other brands like Sandro and Maje that we get little bits of in the U.S., but over there, they're as common as the Gap." 

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"The character Gemma, who’s played by Zoe Boyle, is very proper British. She was inspired by the princesses, Meghan [Markle] and Kate [Middleton]. So it was always like, ‘What would Megan and Kate wear?!’ The first time you see her, she’s wearing a little capelet with a plaid skirt and boots. Very much what Kate and Meghan would wear out in London. So there was big-time royal inspiration — when I looked at my inspiration wall, it was the princesses."

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On finding the first wedding dress…

All of the wedding dresses were bought and sourced in England. [At the beginning of the show,] Rebecca’s character, Ainsley, is left at the altar. So for that dress, I thought, what do you do in that moment? You want to run — you’re just like, get me the hell out of here. So I wanted a dress that was cumbersome, so that she couldn’t run and would be trapped. Rebecca and I spent three days shopping for bridal gowns and found this amazing Suzanne Neville gown with handmade 3D flowers and a big, voluminous ball skirt." 

Salvador Perez

"She was like, 'This is gorgeous — but I can’t walk in it. I feel stuck.' She looked up at me, and she was like, 'Oh!' And I said, 'Exactly. This is the dress.' It was an epiphany. The dress had to be able to fill the room in a grand church, so it really set the precedent for the weddings in the show. And then we custom made the bridesmaid dresses for Maya and Gemma."

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"The joke is that they have the exact same dress, but then Gemma had hers recut differently. So Maya is surprised to see that. It's very funny."

Illustrations by Lora Revitt

On the most elaborate wedding dress…

"The second wedding is completely over the top. It’s at a castle and there’s paparazzi. [The bride’s] dress had to be enormous. We were going to do it in pink lace, but as we were about to make the dress, Mindy was like, 'Um, I think it should be white, after all.' And I’m like, 'Oh my god, are you kidding me?' We had worked on it for seven days. So I ended up going to David’s Bridal and buying a very basic strapless dress that we stripped. Then Swarovski sent me pounds of crystals that we added to the dress, and we made a white silk organdy bustle skirt that goes over it. And then it has a 44-foot veil which is covered in crystal. So when she gets to the end of the aisle, her veil fills up the whole thing. We literally measured the aisle, and that’s the length of the veil. We wanted it to fill up the whole church. And [the bride] is tacky, so of course her bridesmaids wore pink sequined strapless dresses with feather boas and gloves."

On the simplest wedding dress…

"The last dress is for a casual wedding. We wanted to the dress to look like it was found at the last minute. I didn’t bridal shop for it; I just looked at white dresses and found this beautiful Temperley London dress with a 1940s feel to it. It could have been vintage, but it was brand new. It needed to be simple, but it couldn’t be so simple that the dress was boring."

On shopping for hats…

"In England, everybody wears hats. I was able to accessorize the show in ways I couldn’t do in America without it looking comical — even just in doing a  somber funeral where everyone’s wearing black, but then adding hats or fascinators for everybody. I was in every store looking for them. I lived at Selfridge’s and John Lewis. I was up and down Bond Street. If I saw a hat in a window, I just pulled it and bought it. We probably bought 150 hats for the show."

Salvador Perez

On Andie MacDowell’s return…

"Oh my god, I am obsessed! Absolutely obsessed. She walked in after an 11-hour flight — came straight from the airport to my fitting — and posed in everything I pulled for her. I’m telling you, her fitting photos are like runway photos. The woman is amazing. Now I understand why she’s a legend. She plays this Dallas socialite mom, so we wanted some of that Dallas in her. But at the same time, she’s somebody that travels all over the world. She wore a lot of Max Mara."

On a rom-com-worthy coincidence…

"As a costume designer, when I thought about Four Weddings and a Funeral, of course I thought of Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell. We tried to get Hugh, but he wasn’t available. Here’s a funny story, though: the house we shot as the exterior of Ainsley’s house in Notting Hill was just across the street, a few rows down from his house. He was probably so annoyed with us, because we were out there all the time with lights shooting at night."

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