SNL Had 85 Minutes to Re-create Kamala Harris’s White Pantsuit For Maya Rudolph — Here’s How They Did It
Kamala Harris walked onstage in Wilmington, DE, to address the nation as vice-president elect around 8:30 p.m. ET. In that moment, the Saturday Night Live cast and crew had just began dress rehearsal for the show, which starts promptly at 11:30 p.m. ET. The mood? Intense, especially for the costume department, which includes Producer and Costume Designer Tom Broecker and Wardrobe Supervisor Dale Richards, who was in charge of making the outfit actor Maya Rudolph would wear as Harris for the cold open. Rudolph had already perfectly pulled off Kamala’s Converse sneakers on the show — would she do this Carolina Herrera white victory suit, and coordinated silk pussy-bow blouse, as much justice? Of frickin’ course — even with such a limited amount of time.
We spoke with Broecker and Richards about the speedy process. They confirmed that everything Rudolph was wearing to pay homage to Kamala’s own salute to the women’s suffragist movement, was, in fact, pulled from stock or made from scratch.
“My assistant started capturing screen grabs of everything [Harris] was wearing so we could get all the details right — the shoes, the jewelry, the hair, makeup, blouse, and the suit. By 9 p.m. we had pulled all the ‘research’ photos together and started looking through our stock to see if there was anything that could work. Every store in the city had been closed for hours. There was no way to shop this look anywhere, except in our back rooms,” Broecker said, setting the scene.
He continued: “A box of cream charmeuse fabric was found to make the blouse, and then a cream double-breasted suit was found that could be completely recut and altered to make the suit work. It would require an incredible amount of work to recut a double-breasted suit into a single-breasted suit, but I work with the most incredible tailors in the world. They put the jacket on Maya’s mannequin form in the office and went to work, just like in the movie Cinderella. Eighty minutes later, and four tailors exhausted, Maya did a fitting. It was perfect and she was ready to go to the stage. As she was leaving her dressing room, I realized she didn’t have her flag pin on her lapel. Her dresser went running into the wardrobe room to get her flag pin. I will say this: no where else in the world could this happen.”
Rudolph ended up performing the cold open in nude Jimmy Choo pumps and the cream suit that was, interestingly enough, originally purchased from a suit supplier a year earlier for Cecily Strong to play Melania Trump in a sketch, though it was never used. All these minor details are extremely important to Broecker and his team, who confirmed that Kamala Harris’s small touches with her clothing, like her meaningful jewelry or her Converse, define her as a real person. “I believe fashion is always incredibly important in helping an actor play a character. Whether that character be a real person or an ‘invented’ character, that actor must rely on costume to help them define their character . . . [it’s] an impossible task for any other place other than Saturday Night Live. We have the best people anywhere in the world,” Broecker went on to say.
Broecker also confirmed that he does not have contact with anyone on Harris’s team, so he has no way of being notified ahead of time what she might wear for any one event. So, if you thought there might be some sort of “cheating” involved in this crucial process, think again. Ahead, see how similar both looks are, from the stage in Delaware to the stage in New York just three hours later.
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