It's almost impossible to think of my life without The Closer. Since 2004, when we shot the pilot and were all hopeful that this show might get picked up for a season, to now our final six episodes eight years later, well, it is impossible! For the past several years I have shared the reasons behind my costume choices for the characters that inhabit The Closer world, the colors, the brands, the designers, the vintage, the ups and downs and highs and lows. For the Final 6 - that sounds like a major league sporting event - I have decided to walk down Memory Lane and share my memories of and what The Closer meant to me.
The inaugural season of The Closer started out with a bang! That pilot episode, the premier of The Closer was the highest rated cable show ever! And as Piers Morgan stated, to Kyra Sedgwick on her recent appearance oh his show, the show never left that number one place of honor. And that said Kyra, was why we are going out on top!
I recall so many memorable moments of Season1. We had shot the pilot at a downtown L.A. studio facility, but we were now, for the production of the series, at a small studio, in Hollywood, across from Paramount. I had my familiar crew with me; we were set up in a rambling suite of offices. And I had to start "designing" Brenda Leigh's fish-out-of-water fashion look. The pilot showcased ill-fitting jackets and polyester flora skirts, mismatched sweater sets and sensible shoes. Kyra embraced the lack of Brenda's fashion sense, I think not for lack of vanity, but, she trusted me, the look was perfect for a real "reel" life cop and she was so darn busy with the pages and pages of dialog, to not have to worry about her characters wardrobe was one more thing to leave to others. Brenda's initial fashion purchases were from a place I affectionately said that, "old clothes go to die". It's actually a "jobber" where seasons old department store clothes are sold and then re-sold at 30% to 50% of their original retail price. There was so much polyester in Brenda's closet that had we lit a match the petroleum would have caused an oozing oil spill the likes of the Exxon Valdez debacle! But, ladies across America embraced Chief Johnson's lack of fashion acumen and nod to what real women wear rather than the fantasized versions other TV. cops deem appropriate thanks to the publics taste for low cut tops and high heels. I was grateful that I had a leading lady and a group of producers who understood that a flawed character like Brenda Leigh was not a fashion plate, was not a trend setter per se(more about that as the season of blogs continue), and allowed me to flesh out a character that fashionably grew each season, glommed onto the style of a fashion forward city like L.A. but on her own terms and allowed me to never get stuck in fads or fripperies with a fashionable gal like BLJ!
I always associate Brenda's signature look from Season 1 as the oversized mustardy brown Macy's jacket and the Alfani brown, orange and sienna print top and skirt. As everybody knows I repeated parts of that outfit every first and last episode up until this final 6! But probably one of the character's most iconic looks was what she was first seen in on screen at the Malibu crime scene. The cashmere Ralph Lauren cable knit 3/4 length cardigan that was Brenda's version of a trench coat. Kyra wanted a "great trench coat" she enthused when we first spoke on the phone about the Brenda look. James Duff, chimed in that he didn't want her to look like "Columbo!" and that it shouldn't be a trench coat. On the day before we were to start principal photography on the pilot and not being able to find a non-trench-trench coat, I spied that item on the 3rd floor of Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills. It cost over $500. But it was what I thought to be the perfect mix of a non-trench-trench coat! Who knew it would become Brenda's go-to sweater for comfort, warmth and security? Maybe secretly, I did.
That first season was like we were all away from home at a wonderful little college. The crew was getting to know each other. We were learning about Brenda and the Boys, there were after wrap parties on Friday nights where Kyra would relax with a shot of tequila and dance with unabashed abandon, all by herself, as a boom box blasted hits off the back of a crew members pick up truck. There were days that would turn into nights and we shot for 14 hours and come back the next day for more. And the schedule took it's toll on the actress and crew, when we all thought, "what the hell are we doing?" but loving every second of it at the same time. By the end of that first season, I had made crew changes. We had been kicked out of our suite of offices and already knew, thanks to the genius of TNT that we had a job for another year, and I was told by James Duff: "Brenda has been in L.A. for a year now. What are you going to do with her costumes next season to show that fact?" Thank god I had six months to figure that out.