MOLLY ROGERS, COSTUME DESIGNER TO OUR FAVE FASHION-FILLED FILMS
When your resume reads Costume Designer for Sex and the City, what else matters? For us it's Molly Rogers, an important member of the dream team, who made us swoon over and fall in love with the fashionable characters of Sex and the City as well as other films such as The Devil Wears Prada, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the TV series Ugly Betty to name a few.
Rogers, a costume designer and stylist who worked in New York City since 1984 with Patricia (Pat) Field, began her costume career in Las Vegas, managing showgirl headpieces for Pat on Michael Mann’s TV series Crime Story. Since then, Molly’s career has been nothing short of impressive with six Emmy nominations for Outstanding Costumes, with one very exciting win for Season Three of Sex and the City. To date, Rogers states that being in a dressing room with actress Meryl Streep and collaborating on the costumes for The Devil Wears Prada, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, has been her most exciting achievement to date. We would say so too.
Hence, we were truly honored to have Rogers, a Miami resident, serve as a guest judge for the 2nd Annual Miami Fashion Film Festival, helping to select the winning films for Best Fashion Styling (Karl Colletta’s Escandalo! styled by Rodney Hall) and Best Costume Design (Blackened Wings styled by Chiara Pavan).
With the ongoing and very recent rumors of a Sex and the City 3, that Rogers neither confirms nor denies, and a new upcoming fashion-filled film, The Intern, featuring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, we delved a little deeper to learn MORE about Rogers with a quick Q and A.
What set you on the path to fashion styling and costume design?
I was a new graduate from college and ran to London to get in on the music scene. It was fascinating to see all the British kids "live their looks" day and night. Boy George, Siouxie and the Banshees, that exciting scene spawned by kids who did not give a f*ck. By the time I arrived back in NYC to work at Pat Field's clothing store on 8th street, the advent of MTV was starting - and music & fashion go hand in hand.
Which project has allowed you to be the most creative and how did you push the envelope?
Working on Sex and the City was a time in my career where our department had complete freedom to create. It was a perfect alignment of talent, scripts, and producers striving to capture a moment in the life of a very special city. It was exciting to say "no, it's a bare leg on Carrie even though it's winter," or "let's wear a bra or heels to bed," because WE did these things ourselves as NYC women. Now, in these more corporate times, a costume department is often dictated to, or you go to battle to get a simple flourish in. At that time, no one at HBO would ever say, "I don't understand that hat" & then try and kill it. The fittings were anything goes, like a collaborative art project. We were free in our Queens laboratory out at Silvercup Studios.
We have to talk about Sex and the City. What was your favorite look of all time?
That's like asking a parent which child is their favorite -it's impossible! I prefer to hear which outfits are favorites from fans.
Sometimes, when I catch a re-run, I say, "Oh, that was the first "fancy" dress we bought SJP"...little memories like that make outfits special in my mind. I remember being scandalized that we bought a $1200 evening gown by Narcisco Rodriguez (back in the 90's before we could get EVERYthing loaned) and we lopped it off into a short dress. I made a huge pillow out of the leftover hem fabric.
A few of my favorites ended up on the cutting room floor or the fitting room floor.
This Jean Paul Gaultier robe (pictured below) made it to camera but never to the screen. I like the drama of the train puddle and the color within the set. ***With a bare foot too! Which we never did. Lucky for all of the shoe designers!
I adored the looks in a fitting that Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) would say, "I'll be run out of town on a rail if I show up in front of the crew in this." And we'd have a good laugh and we'd shelve them - never to see the light of day. Too flammable, too neon, whatever, but they all stand out in my mind, and I'm glad they didn't make it in and that we were capable of editing our fun.
Has there ever been a look from any film you’ve worked on that has caused controversy? If so, please explain.
No, I believe audiences enjoy the visual stimulation of details and surprises in a character's clothing. Audiences are smart. Although now, you can be hated and debated to death on social media which is a bore.
Does fashion ever take away from the focus on the character? How is balanced achieved?
It's an important rule I learned from Pat. You can't force someone to wear something. It's a collaborative process. The actor also has to believe in it with confidence, and feel it to be true. Otherwise, they will never pull it off and IT will wear them and pull focus from the story. You hope for seamlessness. Of course, some folks, like the rarity that is SJP, can throw on a garbage bag and make it look like the most incredible caftan in existence.
Sometimes, we wanted to get a cutting edge dress into a TV episode, but there was no scene for it. I remember SJP trying this Viktor and Rolf dress on years ago (pictured above) from on top of a ladder and saying, "Where in the hell am I going to wear this?"
But it was wonderful that they had sent it from Paris to try on. Would have been fabulous on the subway.
The Devil Wears Prada allowed us to envision a world that “a million girls would die for”. I speak for many. The styling did make us want to be that girl regardless of the ills of the job. What about fashion and design do you think is so transcending?
It is an expression of a fantasy, 6, and everyone hopes their dreams will come true.
Upcoming film The Intern screams more fashion on film. How will the fashion set it apart from fashion-filled films we’ve loved in the past?
Let's all sit in the theater and see!
Overall, your filmography is quite impressive. What other forms of visual art have you been able to apply your creativity or would like to?
I love, love, love to write. I've owned a diary since I was 6 years old, and I find such pleasure recording my experiences into short stories and adding pics like a scrapbook to illustrate them. I also apply my creativity to my home and my friendships.
If you were to design your own clothing line, how would you describe it?
I find the over-consumption in today's world off-putting. More, more, more. How much do you need? What will it take?
Mother Earth has only so much to give us and soon you may find yourself floating on a raft of discounted Rubber flip flops! I would be interested in giving items second life and exploring wearable technology.
What do you look forward to in the next stage of your career?
That's the great thing about life. You never know what to expect. I'm open to it all!