High-fashion was never the focal point of The Deuce. But somehow, in chronicling the gritty lives of prostitutes, pimps, and the ascent of the porn industry in the 1970s heyday of Times Square, costume designer Anna Terrazas garnered acclaim for the HBO series’ designs, modeled from tons of research into film and history of New York City at the time. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco as Eileen Merrell (street name “Candy”) and twins Vincent and Frankie Martino, the show depicts crime-ridden 42nd street, the violence of the growing drug epidemic, and the continual exploitation of women by pimps.
The second season, premiering on September 9th, charts the rise of Candy’s porn career as both an actress and director, shifting the narrative to the female gaze in the process. It also jumps ahead five years, taking the clothing into 1977, when the glittery evening-wear of Studio 54 had already begun to take hold and most people had jumped onto the sporty chic and jazzercise craze. Of course, these didn’t so much pertain to the subjects of The Deuce, for which earning money was more important than staying on top of the latest trends, but served as inspiration for the costume research. Terrazas wanted to depict the women as realistically as possible, taking into account socioeconomic class and the real-life struggles that the characters would have endured.
Ahead of the premiere, CR caught up with the designer to talk more about clothing changes for the second season and Gyllenhaal’s involvement in the wardrobe.
How did the clothing change for the season two?
“We’re shooting late ’70s so we had to change the fashion. Punk was starting to happen and that had to be reflected in the clothes. We did a lot of bell bottoms in the first season and now we did them a lot more tapered. Because five years have passed, the characters have changed their way of dressing. For the color palette in the first season, we used more more browns, oranges, and rusty colors that were worn down. For the new season, we added a lot more pops of bright color in the clothing and accessories.”
What was on your mood board this time?
“We concentrated more on what was happening in the city at the time and what was happening in the streets. Hip hop was in Harlem and that’s how people were dressing. DJs would arrive to a park, connect their consoles into the street lights. There were plenty of books about what happened in Studio 54 with Andy Warhol, so we got inspired by all of that.”
How did you distinguish between Maggie’s two sides as Candy and Eileen?
“There was a lot of talking with Maggie and we try to study where Candy’s coming from. At the end of the day, whether she’s Candy or Eileen, she’s still the same person. I mean obviously when she’s playing Candy, she’s a prostitute and dresses differently but she uses the same shoes all the time. These girls don’t have a lot of money to have a huge closet and really dedicate themselves to work, and then whatever they earn, they give it to their pimp. We wanted to make that real.”
I’ve read that for season one, you had cigarette burns in the clothes for the girls to make it seem more real. Did you continue that for this time around?
“We worked on distressing the stuff and even if we found clothing that was ripped, I would say ‘Don’t touch that! Leave it like it is.’ I wanted to have that rip because that’s reality. No one dressed pristine and perfect, especially these girls so we put burnt cigarettes and dirt on the clothes and when you watch the show, you can really feel and smell what’s happening in these clothes. I had this conversation with Maggie where I thought we should go a bit more extreme with her coat so we distressed it, added dirt, and burned it. Sometimes the spectator doesn’t see that but for me and the actors, that meant a lot and helped them get into character.”
What about the pimps?
“We did huge research into the pimp world, and there was this amazing book that became kind of our bible called Gentlemen of Leisure. It describes exactly how one pimp dresses and how he made his suits, so we got inspired and said ‘These guys really really spend money and their lives on the looks.’ I feel like these guys dressed to conquer the world, so they really have to look amazing. We tried to do some extremes and played into the personalities of every actor. Like Larry Brown, if you realized, he always dresses in brown and he has a weird style from Alabama, but C.C. played by Gary Carr is always very slick.”
What was Maggie’s involvement in the costumes?
“One thing that was really interesting was that a lot of the girls were on the street were wearing trousers and a turtleneck and weren’t necessarily screaming ‘I’m a prostitute.’ For me, I thought let’s not make a cliché of this, let’s make it real. And Maggie was like, ‘Okay, should we make this look more extreme?’ There’s a mini skirt that she wears and it was a bit long, so we cut it to the point where it was super short. When we were shooting, Maggie was like ‘I’m out. Everything is out!’ And I’m like, ‘I know. I’m so sorry!’ But it’s true. She wanted to go with the extreme because that’s the reality.”
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