‘This Is F*cking Perfect’: Crafting the Costumes of ‘1923’ with the Cast

The latest series in Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” franchise, “1923,” tells the story of a world in transition. The rural, classically Western values of “1883” are colliding with the modern technology of washing machines and automobiles, and the scope of the mythology has expanded beyond American borders to follow characters all over the world. That meant big challenges and exciting opportunities for costume designer Janie Bryant, who was tasked with creating wardrobe for hundreds of speaking roles and stunt players as well as thousands of extras. “We shot the show on three continents and I had four costume teams: one in L.A., one in Montana, one in South Africa, and one in Malta,” Bryant told IndieWire. “You have to take it a few days at a time, or a week at a time. You can’t think of the whole all at once because it’s too overwhelming.”

Bryant began with meticulous research into the period and the cultures under examination, collaborating closely with Native American consultants to dress Teonna Rainwater (Aminah Nieves) and her classmates at a Montana school for indigenous students. “That was actually my favorite part of the story,” Bryant said. “I love that Teonna is pure survival, and I love that story of the strength of the human spirit.”

Advisor Mo Brings Plenty came from a school like the one depicted in the series and proved to be an invaluable resource. “We talked about how a lot of their clothing was darned. It was all hand-me-downs and would have a very aged, distressed look to it. The color gray was also very important because it’s institutional. The uniforms were all different shades of gray, and there were a couple of different fabrics within that world for the girls’ clothing; the idea was that the tops and the skirts had all been washed with different clothing, so they wouldn’t all be the same tone of gray. And then a lot of the costumes had hand darning on them where a garment had been torn and then sewn up.”

While designing the schoolchildren’s clothes was about creating a cold, institutional feeling, Bryant took an entirely different approach to Alexandra (Julia Schalepfer), an English noblewoman who falls in love with adventurer Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar) while on safari in Kenya. “It was important for her to start out glamorous because we want to see her world of opulence and money and privilege,” Bryant said. “Then when we see her in her safari costume, I wanted her to have a costume where she’d be able to peel off the pieces as she was peeling off the pieces of her societal roots, so to speak. So the first thing she loses is her scarf, and then as she loosens up her hair is a mess. She’s not wearing makeup, she loses the belt. She gets dirty, and the safari costume goes through this whole journey with her — as her world is being stripped away, her costume is being stripped away at the same time. Then she ends on a super glamorous moment in a ballroom that is the world she came from, and she does fit in there, but the irony is that she doesn’t really want to be in that world.”

In the video below, Janie Bryant discusses these and other key costumes of “1923.”

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