Lending her unique talent to animated films, beloved TV shows and off-beat comedies, actor Jenny Slate has amassed an impressively eclectic profile of work over the last eight years. From her famous Saturday Night Live f-bomb, to Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, and the unexpected hilarity of Obvious Child, Slate never fails to disappoint fans, and now she's back in the delightfully '90s film, Landline.
Slate stars alongside Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), John Turturro (The Night Of), Jay Duplass (Transparent), Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story) and newcomer Abby Quinn in this quirky film that takes place in 1995 New York City. Landline follows the three women in the Jacobs family grappling with life, love and all that comes with it, in a time before the internet, auto-tuned music and, as the title would indicate, cellphones. Take a look at the trailer below:
While wardrobe is a hugely important part of any film, the costumes of Landline were particularly important; they were relied on to not only convey the personalities of the individual characters, but also to remind audience of the period the film is set in. With '90s fashion and #nostalgia being wildly popular at the moment, it presented a unique challenge for Landline's costume designer, Elisabeth Vastola, who spoke to Movie Pilot about how she approached the film.
Although it might be tempting to crank the nostalgia dial all the way up when working on a film set in the '90s, Vastola notes that she was careful to keep the wardrobe of the Jacobs family true to life:
"I think it is important when costume designing a period film to make sure you start with the characters first and not get lost in the nostalgia of it all. So I kept the family's income level, environment, and personal effects in mind when thinking about how they'd dress. I think the more stereotypical, period looks tend to pop up in fashion history books, or are inspired by popular celebrities from the era, who have access to higher-end clothing and are bound to make more courageous fashion choices. But that's not indicative of a middle class family living in New York City, so we kept to personal photos and yearbooks and street photography to inspire our looks."
With the mood board for the wardrobe already established, the process of then creating the outfits for the characters became a collaborative effort between Vastola, director Gillian Robespierre, producer Elisabeth Holm and the actors. In the case of Slate's character, Dana, Vastola revealed that some pieces even came from clothing that had belonged to Robespierre and Holm's family members:
"On 'Landline' it was a 100% team effort between myself, Gillian Robespierre, Elisabeth Holm, and Jenny for Dana's costumes. I would shop, and in some cases inherit generous amounts of clothing from Gil and Liz's family stock, and then the three of us would go through the racks together, and pick out pieces that really spoke to us. Then Jenny would come in and we'd have a fitting! Jenny was absolutely wonderful and open to everything, and then over the course of the fitting really honed in on what she felt best in and what felt closest to her characterization of Dana. Then I was able to see what worked for her and respond for more looks down the road. It was a really natural and supportive process!"
And while Dana has her own distinctive style in the film, Vastola says that if you keep a close eye out throughout the film, you'll notice she starts to borrow pieces from her mom and sister. Talk about true to life! Aside from watching our main characters, Vastola also encourages Landline fans to keep an eye on the extras in some of the more busy scenes, noting "there are some real gems of 90s 'fashion' if you look around."
Speaking of background extras, particular care was taken when crafting the costumes belonging to the Halloween goers in Landline. As is the norm with Halloween, there's always a mix of those who poured their heart and soul into a costume, and those who just shrugged on whatever vaguely costume-y items they could find. And while Vastola says the whole scene was a challenge, she feels they hit the right notes:
"The Halloween scene in 'Landline' was a particular feat. We had so many costumes to create, and we were maniacal about keeping them 1990s appropriate and as DIY as possible. Some people go out on Halloween after working on their costumes for weeks, and some people throw it together in five minutes. I think we hit a nice range with that!"
Costumes aside, Landline is a film that's fairly unique in the mix of movies currently being produced. Not only is it a deep and moving film about women, but the crew was also heavily female-skewed — including director Gillian Robespierre, and many female writers and producers. It was this, coupled with the film's strong story that Vastola really enjoyed about working on the film:
"'Landline' was really the first time I was on a project produced, written, and directed by women, that also told, what I ultimately think, was a story about women. It's sad that I have to think of it as an exceptional experience, but it was. That said, I think what made it such a special project for me wasn't necessarily the existence of women in all the meetings (really, that was more of an 'it's about time' kind of reaction). It was that the story being told about women was so truthful and authentic and unapologetic."
And with Landline being the second major collaboration between Robespierre, producer Elisabeth Holm and actor Jenny Slate, following 2014's Obvious Child, we can only assume the the team responsible will be back with more female-driven gold in years to come.
Landline is in cinemas now.
To see more of Elisabeth Vastola's work, check her out on Instagram over here.
What is your favorite '90s fashion look? Feel free to share your photos in the comments below!