Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Marvelous Mrs Maisel is about a Jewish mother who explores her passions by becoming a comedian.
The show uses 1950s fashion throughout the plot using colours and patterns to express both the glamour and austerity found in the post-war period. The 1950s costumes create an authentic portrayal of this time period, and illustrates Midge’s emotional journey as well.
Costume designer Donna Zakowska told Mashable how important Midge’s wardrobe “was [as] an attempt to optimistically capture the spirit of a woman, who in spite of unfortunate events continues to assert her spirit to remain on her feet. Her love of clothes, detail and color would become tools for expressing her strength and identity. [We’re] re-examining the strength and complexity of colors particular to the late ’50s.”
Zakowska looked to 1950s fashion icons Audrey Hepburn’s dress for season one and Grace Kelly for season two. In the first-season finale, Maisel masters her comic set at the Gaslight wearing a chic bow dress with matching evening gloves. “Once she wore that black dress with the pearls, she would be herself and be a performer,” Zakowska told Hollywood Reporter.
Season two finds the heroine and her family in Paris and the Catskills with chic 1950s clothing to match. “Midge transitions from classic domestic life turned upside down to visiting Paris for the first time,” says the Emmy-winning costume designer. “It’s her version of couture, what you would wear in France.”
For Season 2, creating the principals’ clothing necessitated a staff of 25 cutters and seamstresses and a prep time of 12 weeks. Zakowska also designs 85 percent of the hats.
She also hunts vintage bags and shoes online and even sourced a woman in France to make period-accurate undergarments. This is on top of dressing 5,000 extras.
Sets and costumes synced naturally. “Somehow [the production designer’s] colors lean toward realism, and my colors lean toward magical realism and seem to have hit a good balance,” says Zakowska. “I am more heightened, he’s more pulled back. We realize magical color matches can happen unintentionally.”
Star Rachel Brosnahan told Elle about her favourite Mrs Maisel 1950s outfit from Series 2 which you can see briefly in the trailer, “the yellow sundress that she arrives to the Catskills [in]. It has a really cool infinity sign hat situation and this yellow wicker basket bag that matches the dress, almost like a picnic basket.”