If you’re among the millions of fans who loved Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, and Parks and Recreation, then there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with Loot, the slap-bang Apple TV+ show that veteran actor Maya Rudolph headlines. Basically, its raison-d’être is an opportunity to poke fun at the mega-rich, with Rudolph and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez serving as the ring leaders of the comedic horde. And just as the best champagne and caviar make for a natural pairing, so, too, do the fashionable outfits in Loot and its main characters — costume designer Kirston Mann made sure of this.
In a sense, Loot was different from anything Mann has done prior, given the main characters’ gazillionaire status — and the blissful ignorance it nurtured. (For example, The Good Place had a vibrant costume palette but was, overall, more practical than polarizing. Meanwhile, Lars and The Real Girl had more muted tones and channeled Midwestern culture through its fashion.) Loot opens with Rudolph’s character Molly Novak en route to the oversized yacht that her husband John (Adam Scott) is gifting her for her 45th birthday. “Can we turn the sun down, like, 20 percent?” she asks, mocking and celebrating their privilege at once. The couple’s lavish lifestyle is so cringe-y, from the full-time crepe chef on the mega-yacht (a request by Molly) to a panoramic shot of several candy-colored sports cars parked in front of their Hollywood Hills estate (one of the largest homes in the United States IRL). The exaggerations extend as far as the fashion moments, as viewers see Molly in grandiose, jewel-tone dresses from the likes of legendary runway designers Alexander McQueen, Taller Marmo, and Halston, as well as in elaborate patterned pieces from La DoubleJ and Brandon Maxwell — which she wears without distinction on quotidian days at the office and to a ribbon cutting for the opening of a women’s shelter.
“This show did give me an opportunity to think about people that are incredibly wealthy, which I don’t think is something I’ve done before,” Mann tells TZR. “It was fun to think about what that rarefied world is like and dive into it.” Initially, the show depicts Molly as if she’s been moneyed for so long that she’s lost touch with what it is to be “ordinary,” she explains. “We have her dressed extraordinarily, and we have designers sending her clothes.” Fashion is a tool to stereotype and distinguish her from many of the other characters — and the supporting cast is similarly typecast for an even more polarizing effect.
On the surface, one might surmise that Molly’s character and her story parallel a real-life counterpart, like, say, MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of billionaire Jeff Bezos. (Later in the pilot, Molly’s $87 billion divorce settlement makes her the third-richest woman in America, and in late 2021, Scott was ranked the second-richest woman in the United States, according to Forbes.) However, that couldn’t be less true. “I don’t even think we used her on the mood board,” Mann says. “MacKenzie is a really down-to-earth woman. We liked her story, that she’s a wealthy woman trying to give away her money, but stylistically, she’s a very low-key woman in general, I think. And we did not do that with Molly.”
Since Mann and Rudolph have a history working together (Rudolph had a recurring role in The Good Place from 2016 to 2022), she was comfortable dressing the actor in bold pieces that would capture the vivacity of her character, like in a psychedelic-printed pajama set by Erdem, a blue, fringe-embellished kaftan dress from Taller Marmo, and a shiny, green The Vampire’s Wife dress — a piece that the two joked was the color of money.
Mann similarly used fashion to convey, and amplify, the supporting cast of the show. Joel Kim Booster’s character, Nicholas, is Molly’s sidekick — and metaphorical handbag. “They always kind of go together [because] he dresses himself like he’s an accessory to her,” Mann says.
In perfect juxtaposition to Rudolph and Booster, Rodriguez’s character, Sofia Salinas, is very serious, and, in the first half of the show, never dressed in unprofessional attire. “Almost like an up and coming politician, she’s just always polished and never outrageous,” Mann says. However, she hints that this stands to change as the episodes roll out. Likewise, viewers may expect Molly to wear more practical pieces as she settles more into her new, 9-to-5 office life and sheds her more ostentatious skin.
Other characters stay true to their sartorial sensibilities, perhaps serving as pillars to support the storylines of Molly and Sofia in a similarly stereotypical way. Meagen Fay’s character, Rhonda, was very intentionally styled in “hippie” fashion, and Ainsley, played by Stephanie Styles, wears attire that effectively conveys her identity as a sweet, suburban girl. Nat Faxon’s character, Arthur, is the foundation’s accountant and depicted in the most conventional way — as a “very ordinary dad who works at an office in Los Angeles.” And, as for the Ron Funches’ character, Howard, some will be amused to know that Mann took inspiration from the actor’s personal style, of which T-shirts and track jackets are the stars — a strategy that seamlessly folded into her goal of making each actor feel more in-character.
“During [Ron’s] fitting, I loved to ask him, ‘Would you do this?’ And he’s so game,” recalls Mann, who generally takes a democratic approaching to costume design. In this case, big, satirical personalities must be matched with similarly bold outfits. “It’s not necessarily that they are going to be themselves,” she says. “My way of working is like, ‘Oh, I’m going to go with this [outfit] because this makes you feel [like the character.]’ And being part of a team, what you care most about is what they’re able to do on screen.”