Some shows are worth twice watching. You should watch the first time before you are sure how it ends. The second time will be when you’re waiting anxiously for the next big revelation. The second time is to go back and look at all the details that you might have missed, such as hat tips, subtle hints and Easter eggs that would have made it possible for you to be more in-the-know.
Only Murders in the Building continues to air on Hulu. New episodes are added every Tuesday. However, the October 19 finale of the season has already been streamed. We have a feeling that it’s a true 2-timer. The show is a fun murder mystery with a cast that we love. But the costumes are so detailed, it’s even more than we thought.
Dana Covarrubias (the show’s costume designer), whose work you also saw on Rami (Master of None) and Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), explained why Mabel Mora, Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), wore what they did. It adds a lot of depth to the story.
You’re ready to experience this show in a new way? Read on to discover the meaning behind these fun looks, from those bright coats to single jeans.
It’s as if these costumes have been around for so many years, especially Selena Gomez’s photos from paparazzi. How can you plan ahead so that everything works on the day of the show?
It’s so funny. In some ways, I prefer to keep the silhouettes simple because you know they will always be in style. It doesn’t matter if it’s simple like a trench or some sort of 1970s faux fur. You can also add other elements that are current to the mix.
“As a costume designer you have to be able to predict the future as the show will come out one year after you made it. It is important to keep up with the latest trends and look forward. It takes a bit of looking ahead and focusing on the classics.”
What was the best way to define each character’s style?
“We spent a lot time thinking about how each person uses clothing as a tool. It was almost like we were examining the mystery. Selena’s character, Mabel, uses her clothes as armor. She also protects herself against other people using her clothes. Charles [played brilliantly by Steve Martin] would use his clothes for comfort and self-soothing. Oliver, a Broadway director played brilliantly by Martin Short, uses his clothes as a form of performance.”
“We had three distinct ideas about how our main characters would use their clothes to solve the mystery. They are all hiding from their pasts or afraid of the future. Although I won’t reveal too much, there have been things that happened in the past you don’t know about. They communicate this visually by using their clothes. We then decided on different color palettes to match each one.”
Could you please tell us more about the color palettes?
“With Selena my main inspiration for Mabel was the marigold. So reds, yellows, and golds. We tried to find a way to show her Mexican heritage. Selena is also from Texas, and I am half Mexican. We wanted it to be funny and not too obvious. The marigold is a significant symbol of Mexican culture. It is a symbol of sorrow and grief, but also creativity, passion, and it felt right for her character, as she’s an artist and creative. However, she’s also grieving the loss of her past and trying to get over it.”
“While researching for Oliver, we came across a beautiful photograph of a Broadway theatre. His character was inspired by the colors in the theater, which included red velvets and purple velvets as well as the gold proscenium. His palette included rich and beautiful theatrical colors.”
“We chose blue to honor Charles. It represents a blue world. Steve’s eyes inspired me, and I believe that is literally true. His beautiful blue eyes are so striking and he looks great in blue. It also fits his personality: a little cold, a little standoffish, trying hard to protect himself at any cost.”
“But we also wanted the looks to be balanced and not look too different next to one another.”
“The most difficult part of my job is trying to find the right balance. Sometimes you have to do fittings for actors months apart. Because of the show’s timeline, you will fit someone in spring and then see other actors until winter. The episodes are not shot in the order they were written. It’s possible to shoot scenes for the final episode at the end of the schedule. You need to always remember how everything fits together.”
Even if they aren’t in the same scene they could be in the same episode. It is important to look at the whole episode. This is something you need to be aware of. It’s like “Well, Marty is wearing blue shirt in this scene, then we can’t have Steve wearing a blue jacket.” It’s all about balance.
Is there an item that can be worn more than once?
“There are many shows where actors wear new clothes all the time, and sometimes it’s just too much. It’s great to see different looks all the time. For me, it’s hard to accept the fact that this is so unrealistic. So I try to reuse basic jeans, coats, shoes, and other pieces. Selena owned about 10 pairs of boots in her closet, and we reused them all the time. I tend to change out my shirts. I don’t usually wear the same shirt twice, no matter what reason.
It’s often like this: “Where are they buying and getting these clothes?” This is how they can afford it.
Selena was a woman who can find incredible pieces in thrift shops, which was one of our ideas for her character. It’s not easy for others to find the perfect piece and style it. We had a mix of new and thrifted items.
What about the other characters?
“Marty’s personality was also interesting. It was quite a mix, as Oliver recently lost all his money so it didn’t make sense to him to own all the nice clothes. We did balance his wardrobe because he was able to afford a lot of clothes. We also thrifted items that were really nice, such as Givenchy and Prada from the 2000s. We thought, “Okay, okay, this is from when the man was making money and could afford these clothes.” We stayed away from anything more recent than Macy’s and Old Navy. We had a mixture of high-end and lower end.”
Do the costumes hint at what might happen? Are there any details we may have missed that we should look for?
“There’s nothing that is so, so related to the mystery. It’s more about each character’s emotional journey. You can see that Charles always wears the same type of clothing from the beginning: a sweater, button-down and a blazer, or overcoat. Charles always wears the exact same shoes and the same jeans. It is very repetitive. As the season progresses, he begins to expand his color palette and wear a few pieces with a more bold pattern. The costumes of each character change slightly as their characters change.
“We started off with Mabel in crazy bright, fun coats. We started to gravitate towards classic silhouettes toward the end of the season. She was changing from who she was to become the world Charles and Oliver live in. We added more traditional detective style like plaids and classic trench silhouettes.”