As part of our weekly series “Inside the Fitting Room” we spoke to Major Crimes costume designer Greg LaVoi to get an inside look at the fashion and costumes behind this week’s episode, “Off the Wagon.”
MajorCrimesTV: This episode was so fun and different, with the faux-trailer for the Gold Storm TV show, and the show-within-a-show you created. Tell us about how you designed “Gold Storm.”
Greg LaVoi: Mike Zara wrote this episode, and Stacey K. Black directed. And it seems like every time Stacey directs, it turns out to be an episode where I get to do a fun costume design. This one, when I read it, I was so excited, because we got to do a superhero!
Once I had an idea in mind, and did a few sketches of what I wanted to do, then it was a matter of deciding if we were going to go with pieces that already existed and turn them into one outfit, or make our own, especially with the gold leather coat. So we sourced swatches of fabrics, and compared them to what was available for actual gold leather raincoats. Ultimately we decided to make it ourselves because it would both be easier to construct, and much more fun. So once we had the fabric swatch of what we wanted to do, and the sketch, I took that to the show-and-tell with the creative team for the episode, and they loved it, so it was created from there. And once the actor was cast he had some ideas about wanting it to flow and be more like a cape, so then it became a little bit more designed by committee. But the actual end result was just so cool, and to see it shot in the rain at the Paramount Studios backlot was just amazing. I loved it.
MCTV: And the mask?
GLV: That was bought on-line. My shopper on this episode googled “masks” and found it. It’s custom-made for us by a mask-maker, but we had no idea what it was going to be like. We had instructions from James about what it should and shouldn’t cover on his face, so to find all those things in one was hard, Terry on my team found it and delivered it and it was amazing. It had an ominous but also powerful look to it.
The rest of the outfit came together great as well. We found the lightning bolt buckle on line, and the sneakers were shiny gold leather with white soles and studs on them. All the pieces just came together so well on the end product. I love it.
MCTV: The trailer they released for the Gold Storm opening was great, and such a departure for the show. What went into creating the look for the rest of the characters in that?
GLV: To dress those folks in the trailer in the very retro Clark Kent-Lois Lane type stuff was amazing because they enhanced the colors for those shots. Stacey wanted us to play up some of the red and pop some of those colors because then when the girl was shot with the little white sundress on, the red would pop out of there. The other patron had a polka-dot sweater which was a J. Crew, that we shortened and totally re-made. So I think the sweater was white with navy blue dots and her purse was navy with white dots. The purse was my mom’s, a vintage Kate Spade that I put into stock.
MCTV: Another character who had a bit of a departure in their regular clothing this episode was Sykes. How did her undercover look come together?
GLV: Well, it was written as she was going undercover as an actress, so in the show and tell, we showed them a black leather jacket. And Stacey thought that since we had showcased red in the beginning of the episode, it would be great to put Sykes in red as well. Kearran originally wasn’t so happy about the red as it isn’t her favorite color, but once I let her know that the director had requested it, she was more willing. So we found this great IRO red leather biker jacket with silver-studded trim, then I put her in a tight little Bebe skirt and a Chanel bag and Christian Louboutin heels, so she looked the part of a Beverly Hills actress that’s coming in for what the doctor can give her (laughs).
MCTV: I love seeing these glimpse of Sykes all dolled up, and letting Kearran shine. This season has been great for that. Now, lets talk about Sharon’s outfit. To me, it seemed like her look was a bit different than what we usually see from her.
GLV: Yes. For her first home look, we had a beautiful emerald green Stella McCartney sweater in the opening, which was so beautiful with her coloring. It’s the first time we’ve used this sweater, but I just love it.
Then for her second look, she wore a tan chiffon, light gray and pink striped Theory blouse, and the jacket was a Rag & Bone denim blue that we’ve seen before, with the Alexander McQueen pants we’ve seen a few times this season. I wanted her to be a little more colorful, a little more “up” in this comedy episode, and I think it did the trick.
MCTV: It was interesting, because the only shots of her that came out ahead of the episode were the ones at home with Rusty without the jacket, and from those, it was surprising because it looks so different without the jacket.
GLV: Exactly. On its own it’s kind of causal but then you dress it up with a jacket and it’s great in the workplace. It’s fun to put Mary in blouses because we get to see them both ways often, with and without the jackets.
MCTV: And it seems like this time, instead of a color matching, she had a bit of stripe-matching going on with Andy Flynn?
GLV: Yes, indeed. The Shandy match!
MCTV: Then towards the end we had another totally different look for her.
GLV: Yes, back to the classic Raydor look. A navy The Row, three-quarter sleeved single button sport coat, and then just an Armani lavender scoop t-shirt and her Armani pants.
MCTV: We got our first look at Sharon Beck being noticeably pregnant in this episode. How was that accomplished?
GLV: They made a prosthetic belly for that, to do the ultrasound. That wasn’t us, but then we had to worry about what clothes to put over it. But that was an actual prosthetic belly that was made for her pregnancy.
GLV: For Sherilyn Fenn, that was an amazing outfit on her. She was in a sleeveless blouse, red and black polka dot blouse, and then a Theory black skirt with black jacket that she just adored. It was so fun to work with somebody iconic like Sherilyn Fenn.
And Missi Pile, that was a fantastic look too, and getting to design that whole pool party scene was a blast. The bathing suit was an Emilio Pucci bathing suit, and the shoes were Rene Caovilla that were amazing, and so fun to have that kind of look poolside. For her other scene, she was dressed in a Marie France Van Damme tank, silver lame, J brand jeans, and a Kooples jacket. I’m really loving Kooples this year for a lot of the different characters.
And Stephanie Courtney, who we all know as Flo from the Progressive commercials. She was a hoot to meet, and so iconic. I had her in a Bebe blouse and a Bebe skirt and a Calvin Klein jacket, and I love her because she’s curvy and she’s fun, and she was playing a great character.
This really was just a fun episode to design, and the guest cast was wonderful. So many big personalities, and they all got along great, and were lovely to work with.
We’ll be back next week with more from the costume department, and a discussion of the fashion from the next new episode of Major Crimes. For more information about Greg LaVoi’s career, check out our in-depth 2013 interview here, and follow him on twitter @GregLaVoi.
Special thanks to TNT, Warner Bros, Greg LaVoi and the Major Crimes costume department for making this segment possible.