Amanda Needham Interview: ‘Shrill’ costume designer
“All the characters have such individuality that it really helps the costume design process, and I feel really inspired by each of them” exclaims Amanda Needham, the costume designer for Hulu’s “Shrill.” The comedy, which stars Aidy Bryant as an aspiring journalist in Portland, Oregon, is in its second season and has already been renewed for a third season. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), Needham, a two-time Emmy winner for her costumes on “Portlandia,” discusses her process working with Bryant and capturing the individuality of Portland fashion.
If you believe in love at first sight, that’s how our story started,” she says. Needham begins her process by working with Bryant, who is also an executive producer on the series, by looking at each scene and discussing each character’s style. “I think we really have an easy working relationship and we’re often times thinking the same thing or seeing the same thing,” she explains. “So it just makes it a lot easier to have that kind of connection and to be able to just have that shortcut.”
Because the series is set in Portland, Needham is very conscious of creating a look for the series that reflects the city’s distinct look. “The cool thing about Portland is that there’s a lot more diversity here now,” Needham declares. “There are so many people here who understand and kind of make moves with fashion and where it’s going. I think there are a lot of trends that start in Oregon actually.”
Needham had a unique challenge in the season’s fifth episode where Annie (Bryant) accompanies her best friend Fran (Lolly Adefope) to the traditional Nigerian wedding of Fran’s sister. “Nigerian weddings have so many different layers,” Needham explains. “It’s really intricate and it was so important to get it right.” Getting it right required fabrics from Los Angeles and New York being shipped to Nigeria where the wedding outfits were assembled. At one point, Needham needed to have an entire set of costumes redone because they weren’t the correct shade of purple. The correct costumes arrived on set the very day that filming was set to begin. “That was actually the hardest episode of television I might have ever done,” Needham exclaims. “It was the craziest costuming experience of my life, but it looked beautiful.”