Dos Equis

Costume Designer Jenny Eagan Explores Pastel Palette with “Suburbicon”

October 2017

By Suzanne Huntington

Set in 1959, Suburbicon is the quintessential standard of a Norman Rockwell neighborhood, satirically speaking.  An echo to a real American 1950s community in Levittown, Pennsylvania; a postwar, idyllic suburb fashioned as a model of all that is wholesome and pleasantly perfect, on the surface.  Beyond the white picket fences and Stepford Wife smiles, the façade fades to a far uglier one rippled with racial violence, deceit, and segregation.  With his notable brand of humor, George Clooney steps behind the camera to pokes holes on an American ideal fraught with questionable morality and social inequality, disturbing parallel to present day some sixty-seven years later.

Two storylines bleed through the film with one evil distracting from another.  A flame of racial violence ignites the intolerant white residents with the neighborhood arrival of the African-American Myers family, disrupting their skewed vision of a utopian community.  While the unrest is unfurling, along come the Lodges, and with it, a home invasion, murder, and conspiracy.    

Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Karimah Westbrook, and Leith Burke star as the families embroiled in the chaos, further unraveling with the appearance of Oscar Issac as an insurance adjuster with a keen nose for fraudulent claims. 

For Costume Designer Jenny Eagan, having an opportunity to work with a pastel-saturated, ice cream-colored palette had been a welcoming reprieve after previous grittier projects of True Detective and Beasts of No Nation.  While the illusion of smiling faces in Suburbicon collapse into utter madness, this costume designer can look back grateful for the collective professionalism.  It goes without saying that designing a feature on home turf in and around North Hollywood and the Valley was another one of many perks that are rare for her and much appreciated.

When asked if there were any hurdles to cross in so far as production challenges or problem-solving moments, Jenny’s response was a simple one: “It was seamless.”  From director to cast to crew, collaboration flowed as if there was a natural shorthand between them; there was a level of respect and trust in one another’s roles to deliver what was needed and move on.  When Jenny would share ideas with Clooney, decisions were made succinctly; “He knows the period well.”  Families mirrored the same candy-coated veneer of the homes they populated, so the close association between costume and production design was an even tighter weave with Production Designer, James D. Bissell.  Eagan shared praise for her amazing crew of ACD Jessica Albertson and Supervisor, Mitchell Kenny. 

Photo credits: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle
© 2017 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

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