Marci Rodgers Discusses Costuming The Ku Klux Klan For ‘BlacKkKlansman’

They were pretty fast and efficient. For Ron Stallworth, I worked with a company in Taiwan. I sent them research, the shoe that I wanted to have made for him, and they made it pretty much to a tee.
What were the first steps you took, contemplating your role on BlacKkKlansman?
What qualities in ‘70s fashion were you trying to emulate with your looks?
Under the auteur, she has learned a number of lessons, one of them being how to bring intention to every visual choice she makes. “And I could say, ‘Well, this is why.’” “Studying pictures of David Duke when he was in his robe as a Grand Wizard, or even of the wizards under him, I would always refer back to the book. Like the rest of the film’s department heads, the costume designer couldn’t help but be triggered by the sight of these robes—and yet she “still wanted to be an artist, and make sure [the look] was depicted correctly.” One of Lee’s protégés, Rodgers got her big break as a costume designer on the director’s Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It, inspired by his own 1986 film. Because there would come a day where Spike would be like, ‘Why is David wearing blue?’” Rodgers reflects.
If it wasn't vintage, it was something I saw—like, a charm or a shell that I thought would be cool—at like a Michaels craft store. No, actually. Then, I picked up an 18-inch suede necklace with a clasp that went with his palette. This sounds crazy, but a lot of what Ron wore, I picked out myself. A lot of the jewelry Patrice wore was vintage, and the pick that Ron gives her was something that Spike came to set with.
So I definitely vowed, throughout the arc of her costumes, for them not just to be flat black, but to have different textures—suede against leather, polyester knit against suede, so that there could be a dimension there. With Patrice, every time you saw her, she had on black. There was a young man who was onstage with Patrice and Odetta when Kwame Ture was speaking, and he had on an army fatigue jacket, because that's what they wore during that time—and the berets.
Were there key points that were crucial to Spike, when it came to the film’s costumes? What did you discuss early on?
For Ron Stallworth, when he's coming into the initiation scene—the banquet where he has on the denim—I said to Spike, “I think it would be cool if he had on a two-piece denim walking suit, versus a suit. He really wasn't too big on Ron Stallworth wearing a lot of jewelry, even though when I spoke to Mr. Lee wanted him to wear. So, that was very specific. Lee went through my research and gave me some feedback. Stallworth, he said when he would go in and out of those worlds, when he was a detective, he would wear certain jewelry pieces that made him feel “cool.” Other than that, Mr. We still want him to have on a ‘uniform,’ but let’s juxtapose him against the organization.'” And that costume actually became very important. There were a few. For Ron Stallworth, in particular, there was a pair of [Nike] Cortezes that Mr. I was able to get those, and then also, he wanted Ron to wear marshmallow shoes, which I don't think actually exist now. But I made a pair of marshmallow shoes for John David [Washington] to wear in the scene.
Just to be around him—particularly on Klansman, but even for She's Gotta Have It or any project we've worked on—it's very interesting to see how he handles his process. Even he does research. Lee has definitely taught me a lot about filmmaking, about being confident as a young artist in the industry. In short, I would say it's definitely been a blessing. He might not know that, that I paid that much attention, but he's very intriguing because you have a mentor who wants to stay up on the times, not getting involved in just one project and shutting everything out.” /> He's constantly, always learning something, and I think that's very important. Mr.
Then, I started to dig deeper into the ‘70s costumes, as it related to Ron Stallworth and the Black Student Union, doing preliminary research to get a feel of the era. I went to my alma mater, Howard University, and went through 50 or 70 magazines and books. When Spike gave me a call and said that he had a script for me to read, I read it and I immediately took a step back, and went to watch Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind, just because those two films play a part in our film. Then, we went into pre-production, and I had a meeting with Spike, and I had a huge binder where I had collected research. At that point, I didn't necessarily marry myself to the idea of the costumes being connected to those films, but just learned more and more about that side of the story, meaning the organization. Then I also visited the Library of Congress and learned a little more about the organization, as a whole.
I think having a presence is very important for any character, not just [Ron]. Just making sure that everything was memorable. Confidence in his wardrobe, in his presence. that was something that, with John David, I wanted to be presented through the screen. Two things, really: Courage and strength. It was important for all of them: Patrice [Dumas], Odetta, Kwame Ture, Flip. For him to have stepped out so much on faith and even his own confidence, to infiltrate the KKK…
Premiering at Cannes, where Lee won the Grand Jury Prize, the director’s latest tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American police officer in the Colorado Springs bureau who, in astonishing fashion, managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. Of course, in preparing to tell this story, Rodgers hit the books, educating herself on the fashions of the ‘70s, on Stallworth’s sartorial preferences, and what the KKK actually wore. “I showed that information to Spike and the production designer, and I think it opened up even more of a creative world for us.” On Spike Lee’s Golden Globe-nominated BlacKkKlansman, Marci Rodgers was presented with the unusual task of costuming the Ku Klux Klan. “Early on in prep, I looked at a lot of documentaries on the organization, and in my research online, I was able to find a handbook on all of the Klan's robes and what they meant,” Rodgers says.
So for the Student Union, that was very important to me, to keep that soul—the soul sister, soul brother—underlying. Doing my research, I looked through Ebony magazines and Essence magazines to see what they were actually wearing during that timeframe—even Soul Train, because collectively, it was still around the same age group. During that time in the ‘70s, that was a very rich palette, in general. Very earthy tones, very rich. On the flip side of that, you had the Black Panther Party, which was happening during the same time, which is where Patrice's costume was inspired by Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver.
What has it been like having Spike Lee as your mentor and supporter, on BlacKkKlansman and other projects?
What is the process of having designer items like marshmallow shoes made when they’re hard to find in the real world?
Could you elaborate on the approach you took with the Black Panther outfits? I’d heard that you provided them with some added texture, so that they would pop on screen.
The primary characters of BlacKkKlansman wear a fair amount of jewelry of various sorts. Were you working with a specific designer in getting all those pieces made?
In firsthand interaction with Ron Stallworth, what did you observe about him, as a person?

Spike Lee Set For Career Honor From Palm Springs Film Festival

Spike Lee, who's in this year's awards race with BlackKklansman, is set to receive the the Career Achievement Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival during its Awards Gala on January 3.
The 30th anniversary Palm Springs Internationa Film Festival runs January 3-14.” /> Mary Hart and Entertainment Tonight are hosting the PSIFF awards at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
Determined to make a name for himself, he bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. BlackKklansman stars John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. The outspoken filmmaker's long career ranges from such 1980s fare as She's Gotta Have It and Do the Right Thing through Malcom X, Get on the Bus and Summer of Sam to the more recent OldBoy, Inside Man and Chi-Raq.
… “In BlacKkKlansman, Lee directs one of his best and most provocative films. It is our great honor to present the Career Achievement Award to Spike Lee.” “Spike Lee has been an outstanding warrior for equal rights while creating an iconic body of film and television work over his 30-year career,” PSIFF Chairman Harold Matzner said.
Next up for the filmmaker is directing Frederick Douglass NOW, a film adaptation of the one-man play by Lee's frequent collaborator Roger Guenveur Smith.

‘BlacKkKlansman’: Then And Now Are Not Far Apart – The Contenders NY

Though the talent and filmmakers have yet to mention POTUS by name, he has nevertheless loomed, with many on stage calling out the ‘dark times’ that have become backdrops to their movies. It may be oddly apropos that today’s Contenders event at the DGA Theater in New York is only blocks away from Trump Tower.
“My co-writer, Kevin Willmott, and I knew we could connect [BlacKkKlansman] to today," Lee said. "I know it takes place in the ‘70s, but we thought, ‘Wait a minute.’ The Klan [flourished] in the 1920s, but this [societal hatred] is recycled.”
Soon, he recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman, (Adam Driver) to join him. Together, the duo take down the hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to a mainstream audience. Determined to distinguish himself, he set out on a dangerous mission — infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington stars as Stallworth, the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.
For this film, it happened [as a result] of the difficult times we live in,” Lee said. “Going into my fourth decade making films, timing is everything.  
“He puts a mirror of society up to you, but he doesn’t throw it down your throat,” effused Laura Harrier, who plays Patrice Dumas in the film.
Actor John David Washington, who stars as Ron Stallworth, said that meeting the former detective was a cornerstone in helping him shape his onscreen portrayal. On one occasion, Stallworth shared a haunting momento from his time inside the Klan.
“He was extremely generous with all of his information. We talked [extensively] man to man about being black in the ‘70s… It was a dream come true.”” /> “Ron kept his KKK card. He showed it to us and it’s signed by David Duke,” said Washington.
He was drawn by the true story, in part because of its relevance today. Adapted from the book of the same title by Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs, CO in the ‘70s, Lee told the audience at The Contenders NY that the film is not merely a little-known historical throwback.
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman was anticipated even before the bio-drama won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival last May. The Focus Features release has become the Brooklyn-based filmmaker’s most successful box office title since 2006’s Inside Man.