Costume designer ‘Betty’ on tackling the gender biases inherent in season 2

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When costume designer Cristina Spiridakis was building the wardrobe for “Betty” actress Rachelle Vinberg, she had a guiding question for her: “What’s your worst nightmare?”

The second season of HBO’s skate culture comedy finds its five protagonists – Camille (Vinberg), Kirt (Nina Moran), Janay (Dede Lovelace), Honeybear (Moonbear) and Indigo (Ajani Russell) – step into femininity and meet all the challenges that brings. For Camille, that means coming up against sexism in skating, once again. But this time it’s through a sponsorship deal.

“Especially when designing a show like this, it becomes so clear just how different the feminine lines are,” Spiridakis said. Variety, referring to the transport of free but non-functional clothing that Camille receives in exchange for branded social media posts. “I think a lot of brands tend not to think that women have to move the same way men do to skate. The pants are all incredibly tight, and they’re tons of crop tops.

The “Betty” skate team were first brought together for the 2018 movie “Skate Kitchen” because they are real skaters, and then reunited again for the series, which premiered in 2020 (Crystal Moselle directed and writes the film, executive producer and also directs the series.) When it comes to the show’s costume design, the actors’ own styles determine what their characters wear. For Vinberg, and therefore Camille by extension, comfort is the key to allowing him to skate easily. At first, the character is particularly horrified by the tight, low-waisted white pants with cutouts at the hips.

“There are tons of girls skating in clothes like that,” says Spiridakis, “but it really went to the heart of the gender biases inherent in skating because it’s still there like any other industry. And what I love about this show is that it’s consistently flattering that these women are amazing athletes.

“Betty” Season 2 began production in October 2020 and ended just before the holidays. Spiridakis was new to the show for her second outing, but joining the team gave her the opportunity to put her personal knowledge of the skate style to good use. Growing up in the New York-New Jersey area, she describes the skate style as prevalent during her high school years in the ’90s. And while some elements of fashion have changed, she knows that iconic brands like Vans and Dickies have changed. will forever remain essentials on the scene.

In addition to the challenges inherent in filming during the COVID-19 pandemic, Spiridakis and his team had to dress snowboarders to adhere to colder weather conditions. It was a tough balance to exude personal style, stay nimble, and stay warm.

“You have to think about each player and also their agility for skating and how – making sure they always look good in front of the camera – they don’t look bulky, the outfit is still cool and you still have those character details, even on days we didn’t anticipate we were going to be cold, ”Spiridakis says. “The individuality of skate culture lends itself to many different prints, patterns and graphics with t-shirts. “

One of Spiridakis’ main priorities in their work is to use smaller designers and local artisans. Especially in light of the rippling pandemic effects, the overall goal of the show has become to include small businesses, the designers of BIPOC. This commitment is reflected in the storyline for the new season, which hints at the government’s abandonment of black and brown communities throughout the pandemic. The Black Lives Matter movement and the death of Breonna Taylor infiltrate the series without becoming tribune moments.

In their makeshift skate spot, the team hangs posters with calls to action, including “Protect Black Women” and “Say Her Name”. It’s all thanks to their de facto frontman Janay, who finds support from (and a budding romance with) Sylvester (Andrew Darnell) after the group was kicked out of their usual hangout. Her wardrobe highlights include custom painted Breonna Taylor earrings and a Crystle Collins cropped sweater from Create the Culture. The top features a woman’s embroidery with braids that mirror Lovelace’s own hair in the show.

“Her script this season is strong and she is becoming like a leader and a force with the girls, so we wanted to bring stronger pieces to her,” Spiridakis said.

“Moselle’s natural ability to tell a true story makes a show like this successful,” she adds. “I think it inspires the heads of the creative department to bring it in the same natural way, and we’ve tried really hard to do it. But I think it starts with Crystal wanting to tell stories and really shine a light on what’s going on in skate culture right now – in youth culture – because what’s going on in the world right now. , socially, especially within this age group – they have been such a huge force in the world for social change.

Season 2 of “Betty” premieres June 11 at 11 p.m. on HBO.

HBO / Cristina Spiridakis
HBO Max / Cristina Spiridakis

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HBO / Cristina Spiridakis
HBO Max / Cristina Spiridakis

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HBO / Cristina Spiridakis
HBO Max / Cristina Spiridakis



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