It’s difficult to upstage all the abs, genitalia, and underwear featured in Minx, the sultry-humorous series that tells the story of a fictional porn magazine for women in the ‘70s. But the show, now in its second season on Stan, manages to do just that — with pantsuits that are too good to pass up. And it’s all thanks to costume designer Marie Schley.
“Pantsuits are one of those iconic pieces of the early ‘70s that have stayed in fashion until today,” says Schley, who took over from season 1 costume designer Beth Morgan. “This season, the storyline has shifted, and it’s all about what happens when you achieve your goal. So it was really important to show success through the clothes.”
With a knack for flashy jewellery and open-collar shirts, in the first season, Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson) dressed the part of a seemingly successful porn publisher, often appearing in leather pants, rimless sunglasses, and layered gold necklaces and pinky rings. Meanwhile, the magazine’s creator Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond) wore stereotypical ‘70s girlboss attire that included colourful pantsuits and pussyboy blouses. But, in the second season, the playing field is levelled between the two, who are now part owners of Minx — Joyce holds 51 %, while Doug owns 49%, to be exact — and the clothes reflect this, with both embracing monochrome pantsuits-and-contrasting shirts work uniform.
“I really tried to stick within the same characters that Beth created for season 1, but punch everything up a bit as if they had gotten a bunch of custom-made suits,” says Schley. Doug, for example, gets gaudier bling, while Joyce’s suits now come in higher quality fabrics like wools and tweeds.
Schley also added other details to signal Joyce’s shift in mindset. She points to a particular scene in which the protagonist wears a Gucci vest and skirt suit that Schley says is reflective of Joyce’s transformation from the kind of editor that prioritises her smarts over appearance to one who is now enjoying the spoils of success and recognition. “I brought a little bit more cutting-edge fashion,” Schley explains. “Just things that show that maybe she's veered a little bit away from who she was when she thought about starting a feminist magazine.”
According to Schley, the team had to recreate many of the looks after finding it difficult to source vintage styles from the era. “I don't know if that’s because ‘70s pantsuits came back in fashion in the ‘90s and the early aughts and everybody was wearing them,” she says. “We sourced vintage fabric and made a lot of the suiting for Joyce and Doug.”
While pantsuits are the sartorial stars of the show, Schley also wanted to incorporate the more sensual styles from the decade. “There were a lot of sexy clothes in the ‘70s, from halter tops and shorts to the tall boots,” she says. “Men were also not afraid to be objects of desire so they’d wear their shirts unbuttoned to the navel.”
To bring that to life, Schley dressed actors in halter gowns, tailored suits with velvet detailing, and extravagant gold jewellery for a historical recreation of the premiere of the controversial 1972 film, Deep Throat, which saw everyone from moguls, celebrities, porn stars, and financiers attending in real life. [‘70s fashion] has a real caché,” says Schley. “It was an era of revolution and freedom and sexual freedom.”
Minx season two is streaming on Stan.