BRIANNA’S POWER REDS IN NETFLIX’S GRACE AND FRANKIE

With the release of four episodes of Season 7 on Netflix, stylist and writer Suhani Lotlikar couldn’t help but binge for the love of fashion.

Grace and Frankie is an online sitcom featuring the story of two pairs of seventy-something-year-olds rediscovering and redefining their relationships. The social setting that includes their four children and a few supporting friends adding to the experiences of their lives is unique. The age demographic featured in the series is a fresh new take on streaming platform sitcoms.

Certainly the costume in the series forms a very crucial part of each character’s lives. Costume designer Allyson Fanger surely did some Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Contemporary Costumes-worthy work with it. The wardrobes created for each character were trendsetting and descriptive of their individual backstories.

“You can not wear red, it’s ‘my’ power colour”: The writers of the Netflix sitcom narrated June Diane Raphael’s character Brianna Hanson with this dialogue. This merger of costume and creative writing established the grounds of Brianna’s lifestyle and habits. Her wardrobe throughout all seasons has been solid colours paired with creative cuts and bold lips. This choice has added to her charming aesthetic of minimalism. Her work wear in particular showcases a handful of must- haves in red, beige, black, white and grey. Her boss lady vibe is established with pop red jumpsuits, pant suit sets and dresses. In season 5 episode 3 ‘The Aide’, Brianna’s sanguine self is put to test during the period of financial crisis at her cosmetics company Say Grace. She lets her guard down and invites her mother back to the company as a consultant. Throughout the episode, we see her go through a wave of emotions involved in taking this decision dressed in a bold red jumpsuit that emphasizes her status of being in charge.

The colour red is associated with many emotions such as love, anger, passion, and even luck in the fashion industry. The New York actress’s character is shown experiencing a lot of personal and professional evolution. From being the CEO of Say Grace in season 1 to proposing a long-term engagement to her boyfriend Barry, the choice of colour evidently set the mood for many scenes. Carrying a bright red can sometimes feel intimidating or too much. But Brianna used it to put forth a strong front at work where many underestimated her for her talents. The company was handed over to her by Grace, which leads her to think that many people around the office do not take her seriously. The choice of reds provides her with confidence to deal with all the crisis at work.

Brianna’s relationship with Grace is a complicated one as is of most mother-daughter duos. There is a fair play of power dynamics between them leading to a handful similarities such as sarcastic comebacks and practicality. Grace’s straight-forward personality is blatantly depicted with popped collars and crisp trousers. Softer touches have been added to her wardrobe with floral neck scarves. Her casual looks are elevated with luxurious soft fabrics and knits. When Brianna organizes a surprise birthday celebration for Grace in season 5, her pant suit look elevates her sturdy attitude towards the entire staff knowing about her real age and a major client trying to pull a play on the company. These traits of poise and leadership are seen trickled down in Brianna’s work ethic.

Her sister Mallory however goes through a contrasting path of experiences in the seven seasons. She is mostly seen wearing casual outfits and sporting a no-makeup look during the first couple of seasons. Her divorce with her barely-ever-seen husband leads her into taking a decision to get a job. This is where her freshly put together workwear wardrobe begins to shine on the screen. Further in the series, she has been seen acquiring a promotion which directly translated into more high end workwear such as pant suits.

When Mallory takes up this promotion at Trust Us Organics, it leads her to become Brianna’s supervisor. This change in the power dynamics between them is seen in her outfits too. Mallory arrives at the company office dressed in bold pantsuits.

Brianna’s wardrobe seems to take a major turn from season 5 episode 13 when she awkwardly gets down on one knee to propose to Barry in a pink v-neck bodycon dress. In the latest season, she is seen scouting for a house to move in with her now fiancé. This advancement in their relationship might affect the number of times we will see her in the passionate reds. This season the viewers are expecting an advancement in Brianna’s work life.

Alongside the print-deprived wardrobe of Brianna, Sol’s Hawaiian shirts too have created a whole vibe. His jolly and optimistic character is accurately painted in many colours such as orange, red and blue. When it comes to Sol’s wardrobe, costume designer Fanger said that it was all about comfort. These quirky shirts were mainly sourced from small boutiques in Santa Monica, Malibu, and Palm Springs.

As a costume stylist who has previously styled for a few series streamed on an online platform, I believe that good costume design equals good production. Often costume is misunderstood to be a secondary part of films and series. But when realised for its potential, character outline and development are easier for the audience to connect with through costume. The visuals created with costume directly leave a memory with the viewers admiring and resonating with the character. Grace and Frankie’s age variant styling definitely became a good point of reference and relevance for many. Brianna’s bold colours and crisp cuts are surely something I would like to incorporate within my own workwear.

You can read more of Suhani’s work on suhani17.wordpress.com and on Instagram by following @suhani_lotlikar

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