By Alexandra Welker | January 26, 2021
Capturing the Colorful Mosaic of New Orleans through Costume Design
For Showtime’s Your Honor, costume designer Caroline B. Marx and assistant costume designer Ken Van Duyne worked with a carefully controlled color palette to differentiate the clans of New Orleans who populate this dark tale of morality and family loyalties. The dueling nature of the show—good versus evil, the courts versus the mob, as well as a Romeo and Juliet subplot—are subtly underlined by the two competing color schemes for the lead families.
Michael Desiato (Bryan Cranston) is like a superhero when cloaked in his judge’s robe. Because he is ruled by his moral character and very connected to the city, he and his family are dressed in grounding earth tones like brown, green, and blue. As the character unravels over the course of the season, his suits and ties grow darker and darker in tone.
The rich and corrupt Baxter clan wears dark and bloody tones with a touch of royalty black, grey, and burgundy, with traces of NOLA purple and gold. “We liked the idea of a uniform for Jimmy Baxter (Michael Stuhlbarg),” Marx says. “He’s a mob boss with so much on his mind he doesn’t want to think about his clothes.” They went through a lengthy process to find the perfect grey fabric for his bespoke suit. Although it changes under different lighting, Marx explains that it is indeed the same suit, and he wears it throughout the show, only changing once into black for his son’s funeral. His wife Gina Baxter (Hope Davis) is similarly monochromatic. As a devout Catholic, she only wears black in public mourning after her son passes. Black was also used to great dramatic effect in certain scenes, such as the Baxters’ walk into the prison. In contrast, the city of New Orleans, itself a main character in the story, is full of color, particularly in the 9th Ward. Big Mo (Andrene Ward-Hammond), the head of the Desire Krewe, is “dressed like the Nubian queen of the 9th,” Marx says, in authentic African printed fabrics and jewelry shopped at the French Market in the Quarter. Her son, Little Mo (Keith Machekanyanga), dresses in bold streetwear, as do the other Desire Krewe members. Flaunting locally sourced, colorful, “match-y” ensembles, like skinny matching Dickies outfits and Nike Air Force Ones—or “Dickie fits” and “G-Nikes,” to use the local vernacular. The use of color and pattern represents the way that jazz flows through the city. Both Marx and Van Duyne know New Orleans well and were excited to have the chance to bring its vivid canvas to life. They were able to recreate rich cultural traditions like second-line processions and repasts— public, communal celebrations of the dead—as well as exuberant events like the annual Red Dress Run. These powerful representations of the culture of New Orleans, make Your Honor a distinctly Crescent City experience.