Hulu’s High Fidelity is apparently about a music lover who revisits her five biggest heartbreaks in a journey of self-reflection. But one could also argue that the show is a sublime yet subtle study in Hawaiian shirts.
Hear me out.
Zoë “I Look Good in Everything” Kravitz takes the lead as Rob, a record shop owner (a revamp of John Cusack’s eponymous character in the 2000 High Fidelity film) in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with a unique collection of vinyls, ex-lovers, and tropical print button-downs frequented by dads who vacation with camcorders and “walking shoes.” Hawaiian shirts make up most of her wardrobe; she wears one under a leather coat, another with lavender chinos and loafers, and another with a polka dot skirt, which absolutely should not work but somehow does. If “Tommy Bahama chic” wasn’t a thing, it is now. And I want in.
“One day I realized that we had a ton of Hawaiian shirts, and it was sort of an accident," High Fidelity’s costume designer, Sarah Laux, tells BAZAAR.com. "I think the accident kind of came about because Zoë and I both just loved them so much."
All of the shirts, like most pieces on the show, are vintage. (The green one is actually from Kravtiz’s closet.) “This is just a person who has thrifted a bunch of stuff and they wear clothes in an effortlessly cool way,” Laux explains. She didn't want the outfits to look too put-together. Plus, keeping Rob's wardrobe small was intentional "because this chick doesn't have a lot of money." (I’m guessing her apartment is a different story.)
“With someone like Zoë, who is so effortlessly cool and so beautiful, it's really easy to dress her and have it look pretty. That was definitely not what we were going for,” Laux says. So how does one accomplish that with one of the coolest girls in Hollywood?
“It was really a lot of just playing around with kind of demented shapes,” she adds. “We'd put something on and be like, 'Yeah that's cute, but I don't know. I kind of think we need to fuck it up a little bit.'"
Although the show is set in present day, the clothing was very much an homage to the ‘90s. “It was a lot of throwback to Kurt Cobain, Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, even some stuff from Liv Tyler from Empire Records, iconic youth culture, music-related things,” Laux explains. That’s evident in Rob's band tees, scrunchies, and even that one Matrix-inspired look.
High Fidelity marks Laux’s first TV gig following an impressive background in theater and stage productions. Here, she breaks down some key pieces of Rob’s apparel on the series.
The Platform Boots
Did you leave your binge session wanting to buy a pair of Rob’s platform sock boots? Don’t bother; they’re “completely unobtainable,” Laux says. They’re based on one of Kravtiz’s own Helmut Lang pairs (presumably the designer’s Pleasure boot, which is out of stock online and up for consignment here and there). Laux had them knocked off by a shoemaker in England, and then dulled them down to fit Rob's lifestyle.
Laux loved the shoes so much, she borrowed them for the Tonys. "I can't even explain it because on some level, they're hooves and kind of ugly, but I also just love them and I think it's because of how tight they are to the ankle, so that's a really big piece," she says.
The Leather Coat
Rob’s go-to piece of outerwear is a tribute to Cusack’s original Rob, who has a signature leather jacket of his own. In fact, this was one of the first first pieces Laux brainstormed with veteran costume designer Colleen Atwood for the show.
“They're so weird because they're kind of not cool and they're ubiquitous, but also it's worn for a really long time,” Laux says of the jacket style from the film. “They just kind of hang off the body in this really great way, so it's part cape, part protection or armor, part just ‘throw-away stupid thing I don't care about.’”
The prototype for Kravitz’s coat was one of Atwood’s own Banana Republic leather jackets that Laux’s team cut down then duplicated for the number of times Kravitz has to wear it in the series.
Fun fact: The Dickies shirt Kravtiz wears is also a hat tip to the one Cusack sports in the film, too.
The Matrix Glasses
In one episode, Rob makes her entrance in her black leather coat and tiny oblong glasses, Neo-style, after having recently watched The Matrix. “It was really just our nod to the 2000s,” Laux says of the futuristic eyewear.
“It really helped us show a throwback, her love of vintage,” she adds of Rob. “She's an analog chick in a digital world, and so being able to tie those little elements in was really exciting because I was hoping that people would notice that we had done so many throwback things.”
At first the executive producers were wary of covering Kravtiz's face with the shades, but “as soon as we put them on, it was like, ‘Oh yeah. Those are sick. That's what we're going to do,’” Laux says. “The whole time, it was basically like that. It was a meld of everything that I love and then getting to put it on Zoë.”
Zoë’s Own Clothes
Kravtiz, an executive producer on the show, was very hands-on in choosing Rob’s attire. “She's definitely collaborative, and it's a joy to collaborate with her because she's so smart and isn't vain,” Laux says. “It wasn't ever really about vanity. It was always about what was right.”
In addition to the green Hawaiian button-down, Kravitz also lent her own printed bathrobe, Saint Laurent mini skirt, and a number of T-shirts to Rob's closet.
All Vintage Everything
Most of the clothing—especially the collection of band T-shirts—came from vintage stores in New York, including Manhattan Vintage, Beacon’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, Resurrection, and Forty Five Ten. (Laux found that Bob Marley tee in Nashville, though.)
So, no, you can’t really online-shop anything you see Kravitz wear onscreen—except for a little white Brandy Melville tank top she pairs with her peach silk pants and jean jacket. “I'd say probably 90 percent of it is one-of-a-kind,” Laux says of the costumes.
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