July 10, 2015
In Season Two of HBO’s “True Detective,” a bizarre murder brings together three cops, lots of bad guys and layers of deceit.
In the first season, Costume Designer Jenny Eagan won the 2015 Outstanding Contemporary Television Series Costume Designers Guild Award. Now Alix Friedberg takes over with a new story and a new cast. Series creator Nic Pizzolatto casts Colin Farrell as Detective Ray Velcoro, who joins Vince Vaughn as career criminal Frank Semyon, Rachel McAdams as Ventura County Sheriff’s Detective Ani Bezzerides, Taylor Kitsch as California Highway Patrol motorcycle cop Paul Woodrugh and Kelly Reilly as Frank’s wife and ally, Jordan Semyon.
Sartorially and emotionally, Velcoro stands apart from the rest.
“Ray is a man who lives outside of time. He lacks self-pity or vanity. He lives with a past that haunts him and that he tries desperately to numb,” said Friedberg. “Fundamentally, Ray is a good man, but his cycle of drug and alcohol abuse limit his ability to make better choices.”
Writer/creator Pizzolatto also helped inspire Ray’s look. “He is a gift to any creative collaborator that enters his world. He had a deep backstory for Ray that was not always in the pages or in the dialogue, but one that was critical in developing the visual world of Ray.
“Ray comes from deep Southwestern roots, where a bolo tie is a perfectly acceptable alternative to a common necktie, which to Ray might feel like a noose,” Friedberg said.
Friedberg’s inspiration for Ray was a blend of law abiders and law breakers—a little Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry; a little Bob Dylan; and some of Richard Avedon’s weary loners from “In the American West.”
“My concept boards called upon some iconic ‘70s musicians that echo the timelessness and disheveled nature of Ray’s clothes. Jim Morrison, Waylon Jennings, Tom Waits all had elements that influenced his look,” she said.
The show is shot in and based on Vernon, a rough, industrial city outside Los Angeles with about 100 residents, but about twice as many factories. Friedberg had a natural sense of the place, which is called Vinci in the show.
“I grew up in Los Angeles, my brother has been in the clothing business for 15 years and most of his manufacturers reside in Vernon. I’ve spent a lot of time there and in downtown L.A. my whole life. Just observing the subcultures and their economic struggles influenced how we recreated them. ‘True Detective’ dives, in future episodes, into some very different parts of greater Los Angeles and up the coast of California.”
Ray finds his own camouflage. “Ray’s palette was indicative of the concrete detritus that are the streets of Vinci—cold and muddy. We used a lot of grays and cooler techs to over dye his clothes. All of his ‘color’ was faded and worn and layered with a kind of sadness,” she said.
Ray instantly telegraphs that he’s not your typical California detective when he shows up in Western-style jackets, classic twill Wrangler and Levi boot-cut jeans.
“We made all of Ray’s coats. They were based on some classic ‘70s and ‘80s blazers that we found in the costume shops. We wanted them to have the timelessness of a larger lapel and the fit of a coat that has been slept in day after day,” she said. With fabric from B. Black and Sons and the work of an ager/dyer, Friedberg got the look she, and Farrell, wanted.
“Colin and I were always on the same page,” she said. The boots were a key ingredient. “Colin tried on many, many pairs, he even took home a few to wear around and find the right stance.” She had the Stallion Boot Company custom-build short, square-toe boots, “a real, steady working man’s boot.”
“It was thrilling watching him in the first fitting walk around in Ray’s boots and instantly develop his second skin,” Friedberg added.
“True Detective” airs on HBO Sundays at 9 p.m.