The Unique Challenge of Designing Semi-Autobiographical Costumes

If you were to write a script, create a show or even star in a series about your life, how would you want to dress to best tell your story? 

What a person wears .s a special role in subliminally sharing crucial information — a monumental life change as told through skinny jeans on “Unorthodox” or a resistance to the “white gaze” patriarchy through a Gucci tracksuit on “#BlackAF” (above). Of course, costume designers are experts in building a character through their wardrobe. But when their subject is written, created and sometimes even .ed by the same person, unique challenges arise.

“We’re also doing a bit of a translation,” says Staci Greenbaum, over the phone. And she would know: Her talents are in high-demand by writers, producers and creators, who also . small-screen versions of themselves, such as Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson on “Broad City,” socialite/producer Jill Kargman on “Odd Mom Out” and Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner on “Difficult People.” 

Most recently, Greenbaum costume-designed “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens,” a spot-on, hilarious comedy inspired by the titular star’s experiences growing up Chinese-Korean-American in New York City. Although, a jobless Nora Lin in her late 20s day-smoking pot while living at home with two older generations — would be very different from Nora “Awkwafina” Lum, who was probably shooting “Ocean’s 8” or “Crazy Rich Asians” at the same point in the real-life timeline.

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