With just weeks to go until Nina returns to our screens in series 4 of hit TV show, Offspring (May 22, 8.30pm!), I sat down with the costume designer Michael Chisolm and costume buyer, Zed Dragojlovich.
When I say I sat down, I mean I was on a phone in the arrivals section of Hamilton Island airport and they were somewhere quieter in Melbourne. But for 15 minutes we were bonded over Nina Proudman’s wardrobe.
Well, I bonded. They probably just had me labelled as another crazy fan girl.
Which is fine. Because that’s what I am. Please say I’m not alone.
In a nutshell, I found out:
- All about those blue suede boots that feature in the new-season promo;
- Which Australian fashion label they’re keen to use more of in the future; and
- Which iconic Nina accessory won’t feature so much in her outfits this series.
How would you describe Nina’s style?
M: I’d call it eclectic, really. I think it’s a mixture of present day contemporary and found retro pieces, plus we have forward fashion. I travel the world, as does Zed, so he’s finding pieces too. It’s a real mixture of everything.
Z: It’s very layered. It’s about contrasts as well. She’ll have an antique leather jacket or antique piece of jewellery next to a fresh, multi-coloured top.
Do you think it’s that contrast that makes her style so appealing?
M: Asher is great for us because she loves clothing and sells the wardrobe really well and we try to make the character of Nina feel as real as possible. The thing about her wardrobe is that the mixture helps to show that she’s a complex character.
Z: She’s complex, real, contrary. There’s nothing catalogue about it. Even though we do buy new clothes, with the way it’s put together, it doesn’t look like anything else. I think there’s something authentic about that. There are multi layers, the same as her personality.
M: She just doesn’t wear one label and she just doesn’t wear one style. We try to regularly change the silhouettes on her so it doesn’t look the same every episode. We do repeat stuff but not so it looks like a complete repetition of what we’ve done before. We try to take a few chances with her and sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. We understand that’s how it works in fashion. One day you’ll have a great outfit. Another day you’ll have an OK outfit.
Talking of silhouettes, Nina’s got a changing silhouette this season. How has it been changing her wardrobe to maternity?
M: The silhouette has changed a little bit but in lots of ways we haven’t gone for a typical maternity or pregnancy look. We’ve taken the fashion clothes and we’ve simply adapted them to a way Nina can wear them so they’re still interesting, they’re still flattering and she still feels sexy. That’s really important for her character. Nina’s always got to feel in some way sexy and we hope that most of the time we can get that.
Z: We made a conscious decision to not use maternity labels. A lot of maternity labels did contact us. We did investigate it but the problem is the shape and silhouettes meant we started losing Nina. You’d be surprised. You put the wrong thing on her and it just looks like you’re working on a different program completely.
That’s actually a great tip for women wanting a modern maternity wardrobe. We’ve long past the days of Princess Diana’s 1980s’ tents.
M: You will notice a major difference this year. She’s probably not wearing as many scarves. That’s probably a little bit of a jolt for most people. That’s partially because of the heat of carrying a baby padding bump. She’s got a lot finer jewellery this year, her accessories are toned down. Next season it will be different again. There’ll be a new development and progression. Zed and I are really conscious of the fact that the character that Asher has created will never stay static. This season there are certainly some highlight pieces and next season there’ll be others we’ll highlight.
Are pieces we see on this series going to be available to buy in store?
M: Some of them will be. Zed has developed a relationship with a lot of companies so we have a lot of companies that give us their next season’s collections, so by the time our show goes to air, some of those things will be in store. For example, Johnny Was, Karen Millen, Mavi (who have been fantastic with Mavi pregnancy jeans), Natasha (a great label we deal with) and we’ve got another new label that we really like called Binny (we’ve used a striped maxi skirt in an episode). We’ll hopefully use Binny again next season because we like her little statement pieces. Like anything we don’t try to put too much of the same label on Nina because we don’t want people to recognise the wardrobe. We want people to really think about where her wardrobe may have come from and not to think it’s all come from the same shop.
How do you work together?
M: The three of us work as a great team. Asher’s very strong in what she wants. She challenges us and it’s a process that the three of us work through to get her clothes together.
Z: She loves it when the two of us disagree!
M: A lot of our decisions are only millimetres apart one another.
Let’s talk about those blue suede boots …
M: I went to Hong Kong and there’s a fantastic store there called I.T. I saw these boots in the background of the store and I looked at them and thought, they’re fantastic but a bit too bright. I went over and the only pair they had left was a size 37, which is Asher’s size, so I thought, I have to buy those. The funny thing was they were about $900 but I got them for $100. That was one of the prize pieces. They’re a Japanese label, Tsumori. Asher loved them. We wanted to have a bit of a signature piece for when she got pregnant … some people like colour when they fall pregnant and we just wanted these shoes to be something she took on board. The boots work really well.
Editor’s note: here’s a pair on ebay.
Thanks for being so skilled at what you do. It really makes the show.
M: It’s a funny thing for us. As costume designers, we don’t always like for people to notice our wardrobe but in the case of Nina you do want them to notice it.
Hands up who’s excited for Offspring and Nina? Who’s disappointed about the lack of scarves?
PS. In case you missed it, here’s the Nina maternity wardrobe prediction I made last month.