“White Noise” director Noah Baumbach called on costume designer Ann Roth to bring the film’s characters to life. The movie marked a reunion for Roth and Baumbach, who had collaborated on “Margot at the Wedding.”
It also marked a reunion for Oscar-winning hair department head Mia Neal and Roth, whom Neal calls “a mentor.”
The all-star cast features Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver and Don Cheadle in an adaptation of Don Delillo’s novel. Driver is Jack Gladney, a professor of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. He lives with his wife, Babette (Gerwig), and their four children, but when an “airborne toxic event” takes place in their community, the family must grapple with the universal mysteries of love, death and uncertainty.
“Noah was very specific about all the individual characters’ looks. Working with him and Ann Roth to create the looks for everyone can only be described as taking a master class,” Neal says.
Before filming began, Neal would meet at Roth’s Manhattan studios for fittings. “Watching Ann and Noah work to find the characters through clothing and conversations was remarkable. Ann had racks and racks of authentic ’80s clothing. It seemed every article of clothing evoked so many vivid memories for everyone in the room … causing the fittings to turn into more of an awesome storytelling experience,” she says.
Working with Roth was a first for production designer Jess Gonchor. From the Gladneys’ house to the sprawling supermarket, Gonchor’s sets needed to help develop and establish the characters. But he turned to Roth for further wisdom.
“The very first day she asked me to send her three images of what I thought the film looked like in three acts. She wanted to put three images down on a table and see what I thought the filmed looked like in three beats,” he says. “She would say, ‘Jess, instead of having the street crosswalk lines painted a usual white, why not a light lime green?’ I certainly adopted that idea and advice. She gave me a whole new outlook on what to try in the production design.”
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