Designing the costumes for “Magic City,” a new Friday Starz series set in Miami in the late-1950s, is a dream come true for Carol Ramsey.
“It’s such a beautiful and interesting period that when I read the script I was like, ‘This is my project, my baby,’ ” she tells Zap2it. “The clothes are so integrated into the show, and it’s really fun to be part of this glamorous world.”
On “Magic City,” the women wear matching shoes, belts and purses, undergarments to achieve the perfect silhouette, hats, hose — and a lot of jewelry.
“It’s a really lavish and lush kind of look to create,” Ramsey says, “and so for a costume designer that’s really fun. It’s also an opportunity to do a lot of original design instead of having to go out and shop and buy everything. [This job] has designing and renting and buying vintage, and it’s a real workout. We dress 600 characters for every episode every nine days.”
Ramsey’s 15-person crew includes a tailor, a cutter/fitter and the ability to do millinery.
“Everyone is pre-fit, which is an organizational challenge as well as a design challenge,” she says. “There are gangsters, children, the African-American angle, the hookers, the rich WASP, there’s the Jewish mafia. There’s so many layers of design, it’s great.”
Here are a few of Ramsey’s favorite looks:
“The silver dress is one of my designs and it was inspired by a fabric I found at International Silks & Woolens here in L.A. They are little silver metallic discs all sewn onto chiffon. So often my designs are inspired by fabric. I wanted it to be a simple type sexy sheath dress. It’s very simple, just showing the body. There are all these amazing undergarments underneath these clothes, like the all-in-ones, a bra and girdle all in one piece. They make women stand and move a certain way, It’s about making everything tight and compact. That is a rhinestone necklace that we rented from a source in Miami called C. Madeleine’s that has fabulous period jewelry. Judi (Elena Satine) is wearing matching earrings and a black rhinestone and bead bracelet.”
“This teal silk taffeta ball gown is my design. I purchased the fabric at International Silks & Woolens and it was made at Bill Hargate Costumes in L.A. It’s very much a ball gown from late ’50s with a strapless corset underneath. The whole top bodice part is corseted. The bodice is overlapping fabric with tucking that goes into a waist seam. The skirt is all draped up and points to that big poof on the side, and there is a train in the back. Vera (Olga Kurylenko) is wearing black stiletto pumps and black opera length gloves. She has vintage cut glass matching necklace and earrings we rented from Palace Costumes in L.A.”
This yellow play suit is also my design. The skirt comes off and there are short shorts on the bottom. The overskirt turns the playsuit into an outfit that takes you from the pool through a hotel lobby into the bar. The plain striped fabric is from Rex, and we cut it and pieced it into a chevron by using gores. The top is a halter style with a push-up bra we built into it. Vera has a black straw hat and purse and she wore black spike heeled mules with it and a black bracelet. Here I wanted to keep her neckline clean and this was made in our shop in Miami.”
“That is a navy blue pleated skirt with a navy blue crepe blouse. I bought the navy blue and red striped silk charmeuse in Miami at a great store called Rex Fabrics and sent it to Dorothy Gaspar in L.A. to have the gloves made. We made the matching sash in our shop. Meg’s (Kelly Lynch) skirt, blouse, purse and shoes are vintage. The navy outfit is a simple and clean day look, so I wanted to really go all out with the accessories and transform the outfit, which is what they did in the day.”