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HomeFashionMatt Bomer, Jonathan Bailey, and Allison Williams’s Fellow Travelers Spans 4 Decades...

Matt Bomer, Jonathan Bailey, and Allison Williams’s Fellow Travelers Spans 4 Decades and 4,446 Costumes

When costume designer Joseph La Corte signed onto Fellow Travelers—the decade-spanning tale that follows the clandestine romance between two D.C. political staffers from the height of the Lavender Scare in the 1950s through the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s—he was well prepared for the job. La Corte, whose previous credits include Under the Banner of Heaven and Fosse/Verdon, knows a thing or two about following characters over the course of their lifetimes. But with Fellow Travelers, he faced the challenge of costuming the characters through some of the most visually distinctive decades, while ensuring that they stayed true to themselves sartorially. Plus, he adds, “We wanted something that people haven’t seen 100 times before on Mrs. Maisel or whatever other shows.”

With a story so focused on closeted characters, La Corte was extremely thoughtful in his approach to dressing his characters. “Before the actor even opens their mouth, you’ve already made a judgment about them because of just on what they’re wearing,” he says. Hawkins Fuller (Matt Bomer) and Tim Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey)—both McCarthy-era political staffers—remain buttoned up. Still, La Corte made sure that each of the men was able to shine through their clothing. “Hawkins, for example, is always dressed, to receive company. He’s always ready to welcome somebody, he’s always dressed appropriately,” he says. “Whereas Tim can just be in a t-shirt and jeans, and he’ll just be fine with that.”

In a show set in such a dark time period, La Corte was able to find the light in Allison Williams’s character, Lucy, a worldly senator’s daughter and Hawkins’s wife. Lucy is the exception to the otherwise somber overtones, knowing that, as a public figure, she is inclined to present a certain way. “She goes to a cocktail party, she’s going to have the nice dress that that was in the shop window. She wants to look good,” he says. “She always has the perfect life and is dressed to mislead people as well.” 

For Williams’s costumes—including a tea-length emerald taffeta dress with a crinoline underskirt, a sparkling strapless champagne evening dress with full-length gloves, and a coat embroidered with multicolored flowers—La Corte and his team built about 80 percent of her wardrobe to convey her character’s unique circumstances. “She makes a deal with herself about her life,” La Corte says. “In exchange, she starts to dress so it appears that everything is perfectly fine. She would choose the embroidered floral sweater because it’s pretty, and sometimes to forget about other things, you fall into things that make you feel good.”

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