BlacKkKlansman’s Costume Designer On The ’70s Trend To Wear Now

On Friday, Spike Lee’s BlacksKkKlansman, a movie based on a wildly true story about an undercover operation to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan with a Black detective from Colorado Springs in the ‘70s, opened in theaters. Considering everything old is new again, and that thee silhouettes from the ‘70s are in high demand, we asked costume designer Marci Rodgers about the pieces from the film we can wear in real life. Turns out: She’s banking big on denim and fringe.
“I love fringe,” Rodgers tells Refinery29. “A good fringe coat or jacket will take you far. It never goes out of style.” It was important for Rodgers to work with pieces, like fringe, that feel timeless, but also speak to the time period in which the story was set. The costume designer sourced tons of items for the film at costume houses in New York and LA, but also she says, scored big in Brooklyn vintage shops like Beacon’s Closet and L Train Vintage. After Lee sent Rodgers the script, she says she set up shop in Howard University’s library in D.C., where she dug through an archive of Black magazines like Essence, Ebony, and Jet to make sure the clothing was historically accurate.
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Actress Laura Harrier’s character, Patrice, is an activist who is a mash-up of Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver, two women who were very active in the Black power movement. “Patrice needed to always be in Black,” Rodgers says, noting that she kept it interesting by playing with different textures. As for Connie Kendrickson (played by Ashlie Atkinson), who is plus-size, Rodgers couldn’t rely on finding the perfect item at a vintage shop. “I also designed a lot of her clothing (as well as pieces for John David Washington) because she is a full-figured woman, so I just wanted to make sure she was represented correctly within that era.”
“I’m still in shock,” Rodgers says of working with Lee on the film. “I just wanted to make sure everything was historically correct while adding my flair here or there,” she notes. “And that everyone leaves thinking love and not hate.”
BlacksKkKlansman is in theaters now.
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