Catching up with 'Bridesmaids' costume designer Leesa Evans
Costume designer Leesa Evans never thought comedic films would be a defining genre of her career. But Evans, who has been wardrobing actors for film for the past 21 years, has worked on just about every hilarious film movie of late, including "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Get Him to the Greek" and "I Love You, Man." Her latest project is "Bridesmaids" (opening Friday the 13th) and Evans was charged with the task of dressing not only the six female lead characters who all have disparate personalities, but she also created some over-the-top bridal wear complete with candy colors, bows and peplums.
Evans spoke to us from New York, where she is currently working on an untitled Judd Apatow film, and filled us in on what is was like to further define each woman’s character with clothes, colors and accessories as well as get inspired by her own turn as a bridesmaid.
You’ve worked on so many great comedic films, but "Bridesmaids" seems to have the biggest female cast of all your movies as well as female characters with very distinct personalities. Was dressing each woman to really enhance her persona easier because her personality was so distinct, or more of a challenge in some ways?
Yes, it's true, "Bridesmaids" did have the most amount of female cast of any of the comedies I've done and in some ways it was easier because the script had such defined characters and all of the actresses were so collaborative in the fitting process so we really had fun finding all the right pieces to define their look.
It was also incredibly helpful to have two female writers, both Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo were a huge part of my design process and I loved having them around to talk about who these women might be and why they would wear the clothes they did.
A bridal gown and bridesmaid dresses seem like fun costumes to get to design, what was your inspiration when designing the bridal gown and those hot pink and lilac dresses for this film?
I really enjoy designing wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses; my mother was a couture fashion and wedding gown designer when I was young so it feels very familiar.
We did two distinctly different sets of dresses, one set for the film and one for the poster. For the film, the wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses were meant to have been selected by "Helen" who was brilliantly played by Rose Byrne and Helen is in love with fashion and all of the drama that comes with couture clothing. So the inspiration was that element of couture runway fashion that seems unbelievable, unwearable, hilarious yet still incredibly beautiful.
For the poster we were just having a bit of fun with more of a stereotype wedding contrasted with the edgy ... poses from all the ladies.
Did you use any specific accessories or colors to really distinguish each bridesmaid’s personality? If so, what were they?
There definitely were specific accessories, styles and colors for each character. For Annie (Wiig's character), her style was vintage meets a little desperate -- so a lot of '80s pumps and too-short skirts.
Lillian (Maya Rudolph) had a real sweetness to her and so I used classic girlie pastel colors to emphasize that.
For Helen (Byrne), I went very monochromatic in her dressing, she's a women looking to be perfectly dressed at all times with matching shoes, bags and jewels.
Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is a women who likes to flaunt her figure and feminine ways so I used the template of a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress for all of her looks and accessorized her with gold and enamel jewelry. For Becca (Ellie Kemper) it was really all about pink, yellow and sea-foam green. Melissa McCarthy, who plays Megan, came in to the fitting with such great ideas about the character that we really just tried to keep it simple.
Every woman, when asked to be a bridesmaid, has had the anxiety of what her dress will look like. Have you ever had to don a bridesmaid dress that wasn’t that great? Did you draw on any personal experience of being a bridesmaid when creating the dresses?
I have been in about a dozen weddings, mostly in my early 20s, so as you can imagine there were too many bad, early '90s ones to count, but it makes for great inspiration!!
-- Melissa Magsaysay
Photo: Kristen Wiig, from left, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy and Ellie Kemper star in the new comedy, "Bridesmaids," from Universal Pictures. Credit: Universal Pictures/MCT