It began, inevitably, with the turtleneck.
In Amanda Seyfried’s first becoming for her function as Elizabeth Holmes in “The Dropout,” Claire Parkinson, the present’s costume designer, targeted on the disgraced Theranos founder’s trademark prime: a black Issey Miyake turtleneck pulled from the uniform of her idol Steve Jobs. The shirt doesn’t seem till midway by means of the Hulu sequence, set to premiere March 3, however, Ms. Parkinson stated, “we wanted to determine what we have been constructing towards.”
She had discovered a classic Miyake turtleneck and dupes from dozens of different manufacturers. Ultimately, she went with a semi-synthetic quantity from Wolford.
“It had the proper stretchiness that she might play with,” Ms. Parkinson stated, referring to the fiddling and finger-worrying that Ms. Seyfried performs all through the sequence, her jaw flexed and eyes held extensive. At the same time as her voice deepens and her posture straightens out, Hulu’s Elizabeth Holmes appears constantly awkward and maladroit.
“I’d make Amanda scrunch up her face after I was making use of her make-up,” stated Jorjee Douglass, the make-up artist who reinterpreted Ms. Holmes’s clumpy mascara and cakey basis.
Such particulars have been important to the development of Ms. Holmes’s id in Silicon Valley, from her preliminary investor conferences to her fraud trial, the place she confirmed up with seaside waves and a diaper bag. (Ms. Holmes was discovered responsible on one rely of conspiracy and three counts of wire fraud, and shall be sentenced in September.)
“Elizabeth Holmes is costuming herself, and we’re costuming her as she’s costuming herself,” stated Elizabeth Meriwether, the creator and govt producer of “The Dropout,” tailored from the podcast of the identical title. “There’s at all times a whole lot of emotional weight behind what she’s carrying.”
Elizabeth Holmes’s Epic Rise and Fall
The Theranos founder’s story, from a $9 billion valuation to a fraud conviction, has come to represent the pitfalls of Silicon Valley’s tradition.
The costume crew dressed Ms. Seyfried in variations of items that Ms. Holmes had been photographed in or that felt true to the story’s place and time interval, from her Nineties Houston childhood as much as 2015, when the Stanford dropout grew to become a biotech titan value billions.
Her wardrobe is crammed with ill-fitting and unflattering secondhand items that Ms. Parkinson, who was nominated for 2 Emmys for her work on “The Politician,” sourced from eBay, Etsy, Depop, Poshmark and costume warehouses in Los Angeles, the place she and her spouse dwell part-time. The gadgets are drab, the labels sensible: Banana Republic, J. Crew and the like.
Ana Arriola, a former Apple designer who briefly labored at Theranos and staged a picture intervention with Ms. Holmes when she was her boss, met with the present’s writers room. “She instructed us the story of how when she met Elizabeth, she was carrying Christmas sweaters,” Ms. Meriwether stated. “We pressed her and we have been like, ‘Precise reindeer sweaters?’”
It turned out Ms. Arriola meant pullovers with fair-isle and snowflake patterns, which seem on the present, earlier than they’re swapped out for a shiny black duplicate of a Patagonia vest that Ms. Parkinson’s crew made by hand.
Whereas the general look of the manufacturing is unflashy and heavy on earth tones, Ms. Parkinson let the encompassing solid stand in stylish distinction to the central determine. Elizabeth’s mom wears Chanel and Tory Burch (Ms. Parkinson’s inspiration for her was Princess Diana), George Shultz (Sam Waterston) has “stunning bespoke” suiting, and Ian Gibbons (the British chemist performed by Stephen Fry) wears sweaters and trousers that telegraph style and integrity. “Each single character had enormous closets,” Ms. Parkinson stated.
In her fittings with Ms. Seyfried, Ms. Parkinson sought to render one thing askew concerning the match. “Most individuals look good in black,” she stated. “So how can we make it not look good?” Her resolution was to mess around with the bunching, billowing and wrinkling.
Elizabeth’s wardrobe turns into extra polished because the present progresses (out with the Hole, in with the Gucci!), however the items nonetheless sit oddly on Ms. Seyfried. “My aim right here was to make it seem to be it really is a fancy dress,” Ms. Parkinson stated.
She was employed to work within the present in March 2020. Due to the pandemic, filming didn’t start for a yr and a half, over which Kate McKinnon dropped out because the lead and Ms. Seyfried stepped in.
Individually, Ms. Parkinson received married; purchased an 1860s home in Litchfield County, Conn.; and handled a case of Covid-19 in March 2021, which pressured her to drag out of a mission that was taking pictures in Atlanta and ship her sister, Lily Parkinson, additionally a fancy dress designer and private stylist, in her place.
When “The Dropout” started taking pictures in June 2021, Ms. Parkinson had spent greater than a yr mulling the internal life and outer look of Ms. Holmes. Carrying a uniform as armor has lengthy been a well-liked technique of ladies in search of respect within the male-dominated protect of Silicon Valley. Whereas males are inspired to telegraph their nonconformist credibility through sweatshirts and soccer slides, ladies face strain to look pulled collectively but style agnostic.
Victoria Hitchcock, a Bay Space stylist, retains an inventory of stylish but sensible designers she suggests for feminine shoppers, together with the Row, Stella McCartney and Saint Laurent. “I even have an inventory of designers I might not suggest my shoppers put on,” she stated. “Issues which are super-feminine and flowery” are massive no-nos.
“I’m carrying an Ulla Johnson shirt proper now, however I wouldn’t put that on anyone who’s eager to exude confidence and information,” Ms. Hitchcock added.
Ms. Holmes’s uniform of alternative, which might grow to be a punchline, began out as sartorial Soylent for somebody who couldn’t be bothered. Garments have been a nuisance to her, some extent dramatized in a pre-turtleneck scene involving a pesky bra strap and a pair of scissors.
“‘Why’ was a phrase I stored asking myself,” Ms. Parkinson stated of her time researching Ms. Holmes. “I used to be at all times like: ‘Why is she carrying that?’ They have been all befuddling decisions.” However one picture struck her as wanting probably the most pure: Ms. Holmes at Burning Man, carrying a cumbersome coat with a furry collar and oversize pink sun shades.
“The factor I appreciated about that’s that’s a fancy dress, and it nearly appears like she’s snug in it,” Ms. Parkinson stated. “She’s utterly blissful and in her personal world.”