Photo courtesy of Marie Schley

Photo courtesy of Marie Schley

“Afternoon Delight”

August 23, 2013

Writer/Director Jill Soloway’s “Afternoon Delight” is a feminist tale about a woman named Rachel (played by Katherine Hahn), a thirty-something stay-at-home mom who has a comfortable but otherwise unexciting life and marriage in Los Angeles’ affluent Silver Lake community. In an attempt to spice up her marriage, she and her husband visit a strip club and Rachel is on the receiving end of a private dance from an intriguing stripper named McKenna (played by Juno Temple), who is younger, sexy, confident and content with the choices she has made in her life. Her curiosity piqued, Rachel later returns to the club only to become even more entranced by McKenna – and vice versa – and soon the duo discovers that they each have something to offer that can help the other.

For the lap dance that sets the story on its course, Soloway wanted Mckenna’s stripper costume to be “almost like a confection or a princess among a sea of other dancers in dark reds and blacks.” Costume Designer Marie Schley was determined to create an authentic, ultra sexy costume that would suit McKenna’s character and in doing research for the film, ended up spending a lot of time in strip clubs and talking to strippers.

“What I found was that each club has its own feel and clientele. We tried to create an authentic version of a strip club and to make it one in which the audience feels that they have just walked into a whole new world of sexuality,” says Schley. “That sexuality is in heavy contrast to the everyday life of a Silver Lake hipster mother who spends her days dropping off her kid at school and worrying about the next preschool fundraiser.”

When doing her research, Schley found a pair of customized stripper shoes with “Hello Kitty” on them and decided that Mckenna would have customized her own look, too.

“She customized her outfit just as she created her identity and persona when she chose to change her name and become ‘Mckenna.'” “But unlike many of the stripper clothes that you buy in a store, this stripper costume was not a character that ‘Mckenna’ was hiding behind, it was the identity she had chosen for herself. We needed the actual costume to fit well enough for the actress to feel comfortable in her own skin and she had to be so deliciously beautiful that she would seduce Rachel and change the course of the movie and their lives.”

In creating the actual costume, Schley’s biggest challenge was time and money – or lack thereof.

“I had a half hour fitting in a sex dudgeon in the back of a store on Hollywood Boulevard. I leaned on my amazing costumer friends to help pull this all together on a dime,” she says. “As a favor, my friend Delia Hauser constructed the costume we had envisioned for our sexy princess.”

“We took pieces from here and there: a triangle top, gloves, garter belts, and dyed them to match. We then used broken necklaces, crystals and glitter to make the shoes and the costume shine. Juno promised me that she would dance in such a way that there would be a close up on the shoes, but you just get a glimpse of them in the movie.”

You can see the finished product when “Afternoon Delight” opens in theaters nationwide on Aug. 30.

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