Hilary Duff Gets a 'Younger' Makeover
From 'Sex and the City' to her latest project, costume designer Patricia Field fills us in on wardrobes for the new TV Land series.
While many embrace the idea that age is just a number in the dating world, it can be a sensitive subject in the workplace. And so the story goes for Younger, TV Land's new original series starring Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster that premieres tonight. While Duff's character is trying to prove herself in a mature corporate environment, Sutton plays a woman returning to work after raising her children, struggling to appear hip to the tech-savvy times. To help tell their New York City story, the show's creator Darren Star turned to costume designer Patricia Field—who he worked with on a little series called Sex and the City. Always exuding a youthful exuberance of her own, the legendary designer, who is also a culture ambassador for Korea's The K Fashion Project, filled us in on her latest gig—plus how we can snag a Younger aesthetic of our own.
How does the experience designing for Younger compare to Sex and the City? "[Younger] has a current, relatable premise: the idea that today’s woman is advancing—she’s got a life, a career, kids—and there are a lot of those women out there. It could also be the Sex and the City audience grown-up, who knows, but I do know that I’m getting a lot of positive reaction. I think women are stepping into their power shoes. This idea of Liza [played by Sutton Foster] posing as a 20-odd year old at 40 is going to strike a chord in a good segment of the audience—and younger audiences as well I believe. After SATC, there were so many wannabes—believe me they called me to do the clothes on many of them—but they were all copies in a way. What I like about Younger is it’s a different premise. These gals didn’t start out as friends, except for two of them. Their relationships start and get roots at the beginning of the series. The mix is more interesting—interesting enough to gather its own audience completely independent of anything SATC."
It seems like there’s a juxtaposition of Liza, who’s pretending to be younger, and Kelsey [Hilary Duff], who’s trying to act older. “Exactly, you nailed it. Hilary Duff’s character sees herself as the next boss of the business—she’s ambitious, driven. Her style of clothing is more fashion-conscious of an up-and-coming executive type—even though it’s much younger than the boss Trout—[and] she’s more coordinated and put together. Her choices are much more driven from that point of view, whereas Liza has to pass for someone who’s 15 years younger than herself. When I first heard that, I thought, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this,' but when I met the actress I was completely relieved because her energy exudes that—I never once think she’s not 26. That’s very important because you can’t be watching something and not believing [or] liking it. It’s got to ring true somehow."
How do you approach the characters' wardrobes? "I start with the script. We’re storytelling not making a fashion show so to speak. We’re not in the fashion business, we’re in the TV/movie-making business. Step two is the actors, who are real people. My job is to support the actor, who of course has his or her own style, in creating a character together to tell our story. Then we start to reach out to the clothing world. My resources are many, and they include shopping, which requires the knowledge of what designers or brands represent and then zoning in on if these looks pertain to any characters. We shop everywhere though, from vintage and thrift stores to department stores, and of course it depends on the character. I have a favorite consignment shop called Ina because it’s contemporary yet one-of-a-kind; you don't recognize it from H&M or something like that. I have [also] used many sweaters and skirts from Korea for my star, Sutton Foster. It’s important to present the characters in an interesting way so that they have dimension. The actors are not cut-out dolls. They’re human beings with their bodies, attitudes and taste levels. It’s the actor out there in front of the camera selling that character."
The characters you've designed for are recognized—and loved—for their unique, identifiable style personas. How can our readers hone in on their own? "We are individuals, and really it’s about recognizing that and the desire to express your individuality. Otherwise you become a hanger, fashion victim, trend-wearer or whatever you want to call it—I find that ho-hum. I want to see interesting dimensions, choices, combinations. You have to want to do that; it’s not going to just land on you. And wanting to do that requires thought, time, a little bit of introspection as well as confidence in one’s choices. Don’t look around and see what other people are wearing; reach into yourself and define yourself."
Tune in to the special two-part series premiere of Younger tonight at 10pm EDT on TV Land.