I’m not really one for the horror genre in general, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch Lovecraft Country (2020), the recent horror offering from the brilliant team of Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams, based on the book of the same name by Matt Ruff. What drew me in to the otherwise totally-not-my-jam show was the fresh take on the horrors of racism in the 1950s, pitted against the classical horror underpinning of supernatural monsters and vengeful spirits. I haven’t read the book, so I can only go off what the show presents to viewers, but despite my misgivings about the ridiculous level of gore and jump scares, I have to admit I’m hooked. And rest assured, if you are an aficionado of the classic horror genre, there are a lot of Easter eggs, reference points, and inside jokes crammed into every scene (I know this because my boyfriend is constantly pointing out the references as we watch).
So far only three episodes have aired of a total of ten for the series, but I think there’s enough for me to talk about when it comes to the costumes, because there’s a lot of excellent 1950s clothing to discuss. The show’s costume designer, Dayna Pink (whose design credits to date are mainly on non-historical TV shows and films), does a fantastic job clothing the cast in stylish, yet realistic clothing for working-class Black Chicagoans in the mid-1950s. The show’s central female character, Leticia “Leti” Lewis (played by Jurnee Smollett), gets the most varied and fashionable wardrobe, and it’s clear that Pink is having a blast with Leti’s outfits.
“We found Leti, and we got to really play with her because she uses clothing as an armor. She’s dressed beyond her means. We don’t know where she got those clothes and it doesn’t matter where she got them, because she’s a girl that gets what she wants. So we just went with, ‘What would she want to wear?’ And that’s what we did.”
Dayna Pink, costume designer, Harper’s Bazaar
Pink also notes that the clothing designs, particularly concerning Leti’s outfits, were in large part based on “Black designers and Black fashion from the time period,” referencing the book Vintage Black Glamour, as well as photographs by Gordon Parks, who focused on the lives of Black people during the Civil Rights Era.
Have you been watching Lovecraft Country? Tell us what you think in the comments!