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Marnie’s Gold Plastic Dress on Girls, Explained

Marnie's plastic dress.
Marnie’s plastic dress. Photo: Jessica Miglio/HBO

Last night’s episode of Girls was a doozy, costume-wise. While it’s hard to compete with Hannah’s orange clogs and Ray’s “Yogurt Towne” shirt, Marnie stole the show this week with her absurd plastic dress, which she wore to “host” Booth’s art party. Costume designer Jenn Rogien breaks down the look — which she designed and made herself — as well as all the other characters’ outfits.

Was Hannah wearing Dansko clogs?
No, they’re a vintage pair actually, I think from the late seventies. I think I found them at Miracle Vintage, which is on Etsy. And the polka-dot dress was an effort to have Hannah actually look good for this big meeting. It’s not really an interview, so she doesn’t wear one of her misguided “interview” outfits. But she tries to look pulled together, and she does look pulled together, and something really good happens to her. The polka dots are just the right amount of upbeat.

Shoshanna’s dress reminded me of that pink Tracy Reese outfit that Michelle Obama wore at the DNC. It’s not the same dress, is it?
No, it’s not the same one. We actually shot this about eight months ago, before Michelle Obama wore that dress, and I don’t think Shoshanna could afford it anyway! Hers is printed lace, and it’s a continuation of doing deeper colors with her, as she goes deeper into this relationship with Ray. We’re staying true to her color palette and her silhouettes, but just tweaking them slightly.

Ray, Adam, and dog. Photo: Jessica Miglio/HBO

Ray wears this amazing T-shirt that says “Yogurt Towne” on it. Where did that even come from?
Atlantis Attic in Brooklyn. It’s actually where we get most of our great T-shirts. They have a huge wall full of them, and you can just hunker down and go through every single shirt. Sometimes you can come up with some real winners, and sometimes it’s just a complete loss. That shirt was perfect for a couple of reasons — we wanted a color that was going to wash him out a little bit, because he’s having a rough time. He had a fight with Shoshanna in the previous episode, and he fessed up to being underemployed and overaged for his relationship, and he and Adam have a very frank conversation about it, too. But that T-shirt was just a magical find as a lot of Ray’s T-shirts are.

Photo: Jessica Miglio/HBO

Can you tell me about Jessa’s red “depression” kimono?
Yes, that’s actually a repeat! She wore it in the first season when she’s about to go to the abortion clinic, which was an equally uncertain moment in her life.

When Marnie is trying to find something to wear to Booth’s party, I think it’s the first time we’ve really seen her in her underwear. 
The thing that was significant about that is it’s the first time we’ve seen Marnie in a mismatched set, which reflects that she’s trying to loosen up a bit. There have definitely been moments when we’ve seen her underwear, but the mismatching was very deliberate.

It’s almost as meaningful when she points out that everything she owns is “so basic.”
Yes! This party is a big deal for her. She’s looking at it as her introduction into Booth’s world, so she wants to make a good impression.

So she wears this ridiculous plastic dress! Where did that come from? 
I actually made it for the episode. The underlayer is metallic gold, crocodile-textured vinyl. It’s a bandeau top and a high-waisted miniskirt. And the overlayer is a charcoal-tinted, transparent vinyl with a heavy-duty brass zipper up the back, and brass grommets to hold it all together. Sewing it would have perforated the material and made it come apart, so it’s all hand-grommeted together.

Where was she supposed to find that?
We took some artistic liberties with this. We are making costumes for TV, after all!  The script called for her to show up in a plastic dress, inspired by a moment in Lena’s life where she had a fight with a friend who was wearing a plastic dress. We wanted to take it one step farther, in that Marnie knows she’s going to an art party, and, having worked in a gallery, she has the resources to put that look together. It had a classic silhouette, which is very Marnie, but came in very unusual materials. It’s certainly a moment of theatrical reality for her. And it’s still Marnie in that she really went for it, and overreached a little bit.

I love that even when Marnie’s been spurned by Booth, she waits for the subway holding her dress’s plastic overlayer like it’s her dry cleaning or something.
That dress actually stands up on its own, literally, so she was just carrying it. It was designed to come apart in two layers for practical concerns, because that’s a lot of plastic to wear. So I didn’t intend for it to be worn in two separate pieces, but when she rides home at the end of the night just in the underlayer, it had some comedy to it.