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October 24, 2017

Anna Wyckoff

Director David Fincher is renowned for his exacting vision, and Costume Designer Jennifer Starzyk found herself falling right into step with that passion for the precise when working on the series Mindhunter for Netflix. “He’s definitely obsessive and that becomes infectious,” Starzyk enthuses. “It was like magical boot camp basically, because he cares so much about the nuances. You start living and breathing your costumes in a way that you never thought of before. At least, I did.”

When approaching her principals, Starzyk developed a knowing, referential look that evoked characters who are so strongly of the 70s that they have transcended the period and become timeless. “It’s entertainment, but it’s also definitely based on real characters,” she explains. Starzyk used iconic figures as a touchstone for her vision. Special Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) was inspired by Paul Newman, Special Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) references James Garner in The Rockford Files, and Starzyk looked to Faye Dunaway in Network for Doctor Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) to express the gravity of that character. “She had to be in suits, but on her own terms. So, I made her classy and powerful by dressing her to make a statement.”

Starzyk found total emersion in 1970s fashion and pop culture was the best way to approach her research. “I don’t think I watched anything other than seventies TV shows for a year,” she says. But such commitment was necessary in order to find references for day players and background characters that numbered in the thousands. “After a while you almost don’t even see what you’re doing as period costumes anymore. It’s just everyday life.” This focus was essential to find a balance between the distinctiveness of the time and a look that modern audiences could relate to. “Costumes obviously are emotional,” she explains. “It was a process of streamlining and looking at the precise details, and this project involved more subtraction than addition.”

Mindhunter is currently streaming on Netflix.

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