Costume Designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb discusses the sartorial choices she made to clothe the ever-fashionable Loud family:
Pat Loud meets Mary Every at the country club. Mary Avery has to almost encapsulate and represent all of the Santa Barbara elite ca. 1971 in this scene, as it's the first introduction we have to Pat Loud's life outside her home, amongst her peers. Mary in a sense is on display here as the "Queen Bee" of the Santa Barbara social set, while Pat is at complete and unmistakeable ease in her own sophisticated, California skin.
Pat and Bill, looking very cool, sophisticated and comfortable at home, a representative day in their "perfect" home life& Bill always had perfect, crisp shirts -- fresh from the office and back home but minus tie and jacket; Pat as always, a very effortless California sophisticate.
Pat and Gilbert, just before they go over to join the Fiesta where Pat confronts Bill on camera about his wandering eye; we wanted Pat to have a "suit of armor" on for these scenes, to indicate that she means business. Compared with the cacophonous and festive background she's just about to enter into, she looks steady, cool, and collected. Gilbert had a limited wardrobe, daily variations on a uniform of chambray, denim and corduroy, someone who by comparison to his subjects was very un-image conscious.
Susan, Tommy and Alan: the arty New York film crew, very much at ease always comfortable in their working streetclothes -- looked up to by the Loud kids, they needed to always feel relatable to the kids and not like most of the adults around Santa Barbara. Susan had an amazing hipster style back then that would be interchangeable with any East Villager now; and Tommy always wore overalls, sometimes with a shirt, sometimes without.
Michelle in Taos -- Pat's escaped with Michelle and Delilah to Taos for some r & r, and Michelle is wearing a classic 'western' handkerchief halter top as she's riding her beloved horse. The baby of the family but also a product of her very fashionable, confident mother.
Lance Loud, in one of his many "Look at ME!" outfits. There's an amazing graphic, stripey ribbed knit top Lance wears in the PBS documentary in his NY hotel room, and that inspired the choice of this bold and androgynous top.
Michelle and Pat watching footage of Lance in Paris. Pat, in her regionally appropriate Taos house dress&no matter what she dons, she always OWNS it.
Val, owner of Val's Boutique, in one of her typically hyper-colorful and ostentatious prints -- she's the "queen bee" of Bill's "honeys on the side". In juxtaposition to Pat, Val's clothes always announce something, always wanting to be noticed; whereas Pat never needs introduction -- her effortless style, confidence and inner cool always rule.
Alan and Susan watching the Lance in Paris footage with Pat in Taos.
Susan is wearing one of my favorite finds: a pillowcase with a 1950's Mexican cartoon print, converted into a poncho. The photos of the real Susan Raymond were so inspiring -- she was so amazingly individual, creative, and a great representative of counterculture in the film -- especially counterculture for Santa Barbara at the time!
The challenge of this scene was to make sure everyone felt true to their characters, as we know them all so well by now; however, it's a major turning point, simultaneously delicate and volatile, and so the costumes needed to enhance each character's particular place in the story - Bill: initially unsuspecting but vulnerable and caught off-guard, Pat: upset but as inwardly and outwardly strong and commanding as she'd ever be, Susan and Alan, their typical relaxed selves, not fully aware of what they're getting on film in this and subsequent moments.
Another challenging scene -- Pat makes the difficult announcement to the kids -- again, the choices for each character needed to reflect and enhance the mood and situation of the scene, but not give away the game at the outset. All the kids are still very much in their own styles, but the colors, patterns, and cuts are all specifically chosen to feel a bit wilted and injured, in a very definitely seventies way... Pat, in particular, is wearing probably the most unobtrusive and understated thing in her closet, a throw-on knit dress which feels like an over-sized t-shirt -- again, not a happy scene.
Grant, on the Dick Cavett Show. Based on what the real Grant was wearing on the real Dick Cavett Show, Grant is in his rocker mode -- a velvet tux jacket, oversized moire bowtie, a peach western shirt, and you can't see in this picture, but he's got serious platform lace-ups on and VERY flared trousers -- it's 1973 here, and Grant is verging on what is the archetype 70s hipness& he is on TV, and he knows it.
Kevin, on the Dick Cavett Show. Again, 1973 -- the super sharp lapels, the fat knot and wide tie -- Kevin is more conservative in style than any of the other Louds, but still subject to the vagaries of 70s fashion rules.
Susan and Alan being interviewed about the PBS series after it aired; a few years have passed since they filmed the Louds, they're more "grown up" but still retain their stylish countercultural instincts for the time.
A dramatic look at the making of the groundbreaking documentary "An American Family."
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