Welcome back to Look of the Week! Celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
Every once in a while, a show comes along featuring a character whose entire closet becomes the object of affection and inspiration. Last year Olivia Crain (Carla Gugino) was the queen of fancy lounge attire on The Haunting of Hill House and Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) served up timeless fall inspired outfits in Chilling Adventures.
Those with a seemingly endless supply of covetable clothing are often high on the Best Dressed list, but new Netflix series Russian Doll breaks the mold as protagonist Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) only has a few of changes of clothing across the eight episodes. The end result is a sartorial time loop I would be happy to get stuck in.
Detailed spoilers for Russian Doll ahead
On Instagram, costume designer Jenn Rogien — who has previously worked with Lyonne on Orange is the New Black — describes Nadia’s influences as “Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny meets Marisa Tomei. A true NY character uniform inspired by cool ‘70s rock chicks meet vintage mob boss.” Tailored menswear and a color palette that only includes black, white, grey and red is Nadia's signature look as she joins our growing list of women crushing it in suits. The black double-breasted jacket, boots, big sunglasses, and a cigarette constantly on the go is very much part of Nadia’s DGAF aesthetic.
Foundation garments in costume design are just as important as the top worn over it when revealing character. This strappy front bralette is Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer) from Broad City levels of great underwear, which very much fits with Nadia's sex-positive attitude.
Not only that, but Rogien explained to Fashionista that they “manipulated the pleats” of the blouse for continuity reasons. So if you were to find this exact garment, it wouldn't be the same. But the black ribbon western tie detail is something that doesn't require an internet clothing treasure hunt. Furthermore, red is a color traditionally associated with Russia, a country represented by the doll of the title and Nadia’s heritage — the coin she wears around her neck is an overt reference to her past and plays a significant role.
In fact, much like a Russian — or Matryoshka — doll, pretty much every single character’s costume is layered. When removing one piece, there is another below. In part, this could be for a practical purpose as it was filmed during the cold weather season in New York City. This is not simply to just make the actors more comfortable, as the plot also points to it being a cold time of year, as in one loop Nadia freezes to death while sleeping outside. Nadia wraps her Helmut Lang coat around her like a physical shield stopping anyone from getting close, she is not simply doing this to stay warm.
When Nadia takes her friends out of the safe confines of the apartment, Maxine (Greta Lee) quips "I should've brought another jacket. I never know what jacket to bring. It is a real problem in my life," when she realizes it is colder outside than she anticipated. The forever quandary of the changeable temperatures between seasons. A sentiment I know all too well.
John is then forced to pull his best Columbo impression, but “No one’s mad at Peter Falk, right?” as Nadia astutely observes. Nadia is playing the role of cosmic detective and her Joe Pesci meet ‘70s rockstar vibe is exactly the kind of uniform required to solve a mystery this vast.
Nadia is far from alone, as Alan (Charlie Barnett) is also caught in the same day predicament. For a true master of layers look no further than his button-down, sweater, Uniqlo puffer jacket and coat combination. His clothing is very much its own sensible form of Russian Doll imagery. The neatly packed suitcase, his perfectly ordered wardrobe all point to his somewhat repressed and uptight persona.
Alan, like Nadia, is afraid to confront an aspect of who he is. Nadia’s fears are tied to childhood guilt and trauma, whereas Alan is perpetually afraid of being a failure in the present. Both need the other to get out of this spiral. For a couple of episodes, Alan tries out a yellow and black plaid party shirt, before returning to the sweater/button-down combo. Because Alan restarts the loop in his apartment, he could change his outfit every single time, but this is not who Alan is. The party shirt is his way of flirting with something different.
Maxine is the fashionable friend who wears expressive blue eyeliner and can get away with pairing a seafoam blouse with a gold mesh vest, tons of jewelry and geometric-patterned leggings. It looks vintage, but actually, it is H&M. Costume designer Jenn Rogien mixes high-and-low throughout Russian Doll; the clothes are equal parts aspirational and affordable.
Nadia wants to escape this time loop for obvious reasons, but these repeat outfits are far from a style rut.