‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Star Rachel Brosnahan on What It’s Really Like to Walk in 1950s Shoes

Amazon’s breakout comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is one of the most talked-about shows of recent seasons. Set in 1950s New York, it stars Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam “Midge” Maisel. The Emmy-winning series follows Midge as she goes from housewife to aspiring stand-up comedian, and while the dialogue often steals the scenes, the show’s costumes are just as noteworthy.

“The transformation process isn’t complete without putting on these gorgeous costumes,” Brosnahan told FN. “Having my hair done, putting on that red lip — without any single one of those elements, I don’t feel like Midge when I look in the mirror.”

Rachel Brosnahan The Marvelous Mrs. Maise
Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein during “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel filming” in New York.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

The actress also said the ’50s fashion, including its narrow shoe styles, has influenced much more than her look.

“The costumes change the way that I carry myself. It changes they way I stand, the way I walk, the way I breath, which I’ve learned as we’ve gone on has become a very integral part of this character. It influenced the way that I speak and Midge is all about using her voice,” she said.

The vintage heels are so tiny Brosnahan has to go up a size and a half in all the shoes, which proved to be a challenge in the beginning.

“I never wear heels in my real life and playing a woman who wears them all day long everyday was difficult,” she said. “Honestly, I was waiting for the Buzzfeed article of all these Gifs trying and failing to walk in heels. It never came.”

The show’s costume designer, Donna Zakowska, explained that it takes about 20 shoes to find one perfect pair for Brosnahan and co-star Marin Hinkle, who plays her mother in the show, to wear.

Rachel Brosnahan The Marvelous Mrs. Maise
Rachel Brosnahan as Midge Maisel and Marin Hinkle as Rose Weissman during Season 2 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
CREDIT: Nicole Rivelli/Amazon/Kobal/Shutterstock

“The shoes are a mini-nightmare,” Zakowska said. “We had about 200 shoes for Rachel [in Season 1], and probably about 12 fit. We looked everywhere for her size. Looking for shoes is a constant journey; 90 percent are vintage. Rachel’s a trooper. It wasn’t a period of platforms. The ’50s offered a much more delicate shoe. Women spent entire days in the shoes.”

For Season 2, Zakowska found a shoemaker in Paris and has started to make custom footwear for the cast. Now, Season 3 filming is about to air, and some of it will take place in Miami.

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