May 17, 2013
The grave subject matter anchoring Sundance Channel series “Rectify” forced Costume Designer Ane Crabtree to conduct research as thoroughly and sensitively as possible. The six episode series paints a moving portrait of Daniel Holden (played by actor Aden Young), who is wrongfully convicted at age 18 for the rape and murder of his teenage girlfriend and serves 19 years on Death Row before DNA evidence absolves him from the crime. Crabtree was tasked with communicating the essence of a man incarcerated as a mid-1990s adolescent, suspended as an inmate for nearly two decades, and re-released into a world that’s proceeded without him.
“Daniel was a sort of boy interrupted, who turned into the man who fell to earth,” Crabtree explains. “Even when he was young, he was alone—a poet, someone who read a lot, who was a romantic—a man without time, and certainly a man without place.”
To emulate an authentic sense of alienation and solitude—and the character’s upbringing in the small, fictional Georgian town of Paulie—Crabtree immersed herself in 90s grunge music including artists like Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, as well as old country. She was inspired by real-life exonerated inmates, famous figures like Kurt Cobain, William Burroughs and a young Johnny Cash, as well as acquaintances she made while growing up in Kentucky and while working on “Rectify” on-location in Georgia.
“I am from a small place in the South, with some of the similar scenarios to that of our little town in ‘Rectify.’ To start with self is sometimes the perfect way to start the creative thought,” the designer explains. “I thought it was important to approach Daniel’s costumes in the most real way possible—looking within the town for pieces from thrift stores that were literally from the early 90s, and/or indicative of that time.”
Culling from the “anti-fashion” vibe of the period (Adidas trainers, simple, no-fuss Levis mixed with old, worn-out tees, Henleys, and button-up Dickies shirts, she notes), Crabtree shopped local Salvation Armies, Goodwills and church-owned secondhand shops by the day to build the character’s wardrobe. With the exception of a suit, shirt, tie and shoes gifted to Daniel by his sister Amantha when he exits prison, the character returns home and reassumes his dated wardrobe. Employing a poignant, full-circle color palette to signify the character’s journey, Crabtree adds that she utilized the color white.
“If you watch through all six episodes, Daniel comes to a place in the end that is very devoid of color—still similar silhouettes, but he reaches a spiritual place, and also, a place of where he started,” she says. “He begins in a white prison jumpsuit, and ends in a white collarless shirt and light colored jeans. . . neutral territory. We don’t know what’s coming next. The palette is cleansed.”
The critically-acclaimed Sundance Channel series airs Mondays at 10pm.