FN Spy: Behind the Scenes of Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle”

Lola Kirke, Peter Vack
Lola Kirke and Peter Vack
CREDIT: Courtesy Photo

Amazon’s new original comedy series, “Mozart in the Jungle,” pulls back the curtain on the sex-and-drug-filled world of the New York Symphony Orchestra. The series, which released all 10 episodes on Amazon Prime this week, is a clash of cultures, as new star conductor Rodrigo (played by Gael García Bernal) tries to shake up the stuffy old guard, represented by actors Malcolm McDowell and Bernadette Peters. For the show’s costume designer, Katie Riley, the challenge was to balance the glamorous world of the wealthy elite with the life of a working musician. “It’s about setting up all the contrasts. The key for the down-to-earth look is keeping it real — aging pieces to make them look more lived in,” she explained. And she did all of that at a rapid pace. “[We were] shooting a new episode every few days. That makes you have to think fast and work quickly,” she said.

What was your thought process for outfitting the actors?
KR: I start by chatting with the cast about their thoughts on the character. Gael had great ideas about picking up on a folkloric energy. So we found pieces from all over the world and incorporated them into his look, as if he had picked them up on his worldly travels.

Where did you turn for inspiration?
KR: New York is like another character in “Mozart in the Jungle,” so street style was my biggest inspiration for the show. I’m constantly taking photos of people I pass on the train and on the streets.

Any favorite shoe brands you used for the female characters?
KR: I love Hailey’s [played by Lola Kirke] mix of practical boots — we used Frye and Splendid — and her Teva sneakers for pounding the pavement in the city. And Gloria’s [played by Peters] symphony chairman character is on the other end of the spectrum, [wearing] Saint Laurent and Pour La Victoire.

And what about the guys?
KR: McDowell’s Thomas has a few great pairs of Clarks Desert boots that I love. They break in so beautifully. We also had some great vintage combat boots for Rodrigo. He wears them with a variey of looks, from formalwear suits to jeans and T-shirts.

Can we expect any good footwear moments in the series?
KR: Rodrigo does have a few fun sneaker moments, but I don’t want to give anything away.

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