June 27, 2014
Set in sultry Charleston, S.C., the new CBS crime drama “Reckless” gave Costume Designer Susanna Puisto the perfect opportunity to turn up the heat on staid notions of proper menswear.
The show centers on actor Cam Gigandet as Roy, Charleston’s young new city attorney, and Anna Wood as Jamie, an attractive Yankee litigator. As the pair clash, sparks of attraction also fly, making the heat of the city–and their relationship–only more intense. Into this fire comes a costume design challenge to make Gigandet a powerful man who nonetheless captures the locale’s distinct style.
Never having spent time in Charleston, Puisto approached the project without strict preconceptions.
“To me as a European, I felt like the South was a different country,” she said. “The men were dressed like peacocks. They wore a lot of color and they looked preppy. They also took good care of themselves.”
Many of the men on the series dress more flamboyantly–slimmer-cut suits, distinctive accessories and always with a dash of color, a signature that brought forth the authentic look of the South.
“To me the South is almost another character. It was very important to me to capture this world,” she said.
To make Gigandet’s character distinctive, Puisto embraced the region’s style signatures and built him a wardrobe of patterned shirts (often from Banana Republic or Seize sur Vingt) and widely sourced colorful ties and eccentric J. Crews socks.
“I mixed patterns because I thought it would be fun for a guy not to be afraid of color,” she said. And the socks? “I wanted to give him something special, to be his thing, to show he was different.”
Contrary to typical courtroom attire, Gigandet wears light-colored suits, notably a tan, single-button cotton suit by Seize sur Vingt with a jacket that is ever-so-slightly shorter than usual, the better to show off the actor’s toned physique.
“In court most men wear dark colors, so for me to choose light colors makes him stand out, makes him more beautiful, more vulnerable, more acceptable,” she said. “You know all the other guys are wearing dark colors.”
Puisto paired the fashionable tan suit with a lightly patterned pink tie and a pink patterned shirt.
“I only dress him in pastels, no primary colors. It was very intentional. I wanted to do the Easter colors because the main girl was in primaries,” she said, noting that co-star Wood sticks to a palette of vivid red, black and white. “I also wanted him to be this manly man who is wearing this pink and is out to change the world. The Southern men wear the pink eagerly.” The colors also show that Roy is a lawyer of a different generation, a risk-taker who is confident in his abilities–and his style choices.
Many of Gigandet’s suits are from Hugo Boss, which the actor loved and slid into perfectly. Still, Puisto, an admitted perfectionist, tailored each piece to fit precisely.
“With men, you can buy a suit, but unless it is perfectly tailored, it is no good,” she said.
Her attention paid off. “Cam was completely cool; he never said anything about his clothes, but he liked me. He knew I had good taste,” Puisto said. “Yes, it’s important to have other talents as a costume designer, but good taste doesn’t hurt.”
“Reckless” premieres on CBS on June 29, 9/8 p.m. Central.