Aug. 31, 2012
“Little Birds” follows pals Lily (actress Juno Temple) and Alison (actress Kay Panabaker), two restless teens coping with adolescence in their rundown Salton Sea, Calif. community. When a group of boys stopping through town invite the duo to join them on their trip back to L.A., the girls agree―embarking on an eye-opening adventure that tests both their innocence and friendship.
In designing for a coming-of-age film in which the setting leaves a permanent imprint on the outlook and emotions of its young characters, Costume Designer Trayce Field was tasked with translating that influence visually.
“I love to watch the birth of characters as they come to life through words, actions, their surroundings, and of course their clothing,” Field said. “The greatest challenge of designing ‘Little Birds’ was creating the realness of all the clothing – aging the clothes with the perfect blend of used and worn, of homeless teens and poor girls.”
Field used her three week pre-production prep to build ensembles with a self-described “mishmash” of studio rentals, vintage finds, thrift store band tees and even items plucked from her own closet. She also studied both dated and contemporary photographs of Salton Sea’s surrounding architecture and inhabitants as inspiration for her leads. “Skater kids, street kids, and runaways,” she says, “images of innocent adolescence as well as young girls gone awry.”
Despite the general dreariness of the setting, Lily and Alison still manage to bring a sense of playfulness to the screen. Field recounts a scene in which the girls play dress-up in the vintage shop owned by Lily’s mother (played by actress Leslie Mann) as her favorite, and says dressing the mother-daughter duo was a delight. “Margaret peddles vintage clothing, so her style is so effortlessly cool―vintage dresses and skirts and gorgeous accessories,” Field explains. “Lily, inspired by her mom’s flair, pairs vintage pieces with teenage sexy…without realizing the sexy feel.”
In the end, Field successfully created a portfolio of costumes for “Little Birds” that quietly exudes the sad beauty of the locations and the story from which they were born.