Jan. 11, 2013

Emmy Award-winning Costume Designer Amanda Needham has had to create numerous eclectic costumes for characters over her three seasons working on the satiric sketch comedy series, “Portlandia.” The show, which received a Peabody Award in 2012, is set and filmed in Portland, Oregon and stars the show’s creators and writers, Fred Armisen, a Saturday Night Live cast member, and Carrie Brownstein, lead guitarist/singer for Wild Flag. Actress, Chloe Sevigny recently joined the cast for the third season.

Due to the nature of a sketch show, which features multiple characters per episode and leaves little time for viewers to get to know each character, Needham is tasked with the challenge of having to develop – and nail – the visual and specific aesthetic for each “Portlander.” In the third season of the show, which premiered last Friday on the Independent Film Channel (IFC), Needham once again worked closely with director Jon Krisel to get the costumes just right. In one recent episode, Fred and Carrie start to fall in love with their roommate, played by Chloe Sevigny, and begin to act completely out of character and do things such as dress like she would dress. In the script, the three characters plan to go out on a date. On the morning of filming, however, Needham and Krisel decided to change direction completely and Needham had 2 hours to find just the right costumes. Krisel specifically asked for looks for a “French noir date in the park” – something that would reflect Fred and Carrie’s newfound fondness for Chloe. After racing out to a handful of vintage stores, altering the clothes, and searching the wardrobe truck for the perfect accessories, the costumes were complete. As Needham describes, “It was a rush to see it all come together and be exactly what Jon and I envisioned for this…[but] it ended up being one of my favorite pieces, it was beautiful.”

You can catch “Portlandia” on IFC on Fridays at 10/9c.

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