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In “Les Pierres Précieuses”, fashion sells jokes “even more”

In “Les Pierres Précieuses”, fashion sells jokes “even more”
In “Les Pierres Précieuses”, fashion sells jokes “even more”


Clothing and acting have a complicated relationship. Showrunners often want their comedies to have a bold, memorable look, but there comes a time when the craziest fashion choices threaten to overshadow even the most well-written jokes or demanding performances. That's never a worry for Christina Flannery, the costume designer for the HBO series The Righteous Gemstones.

Created by Danny McBride, who also stars in the series, the series follows the Gemstone family, a wealthy group of narcissists all drawn into the family televangelism business. It's a bit like Succession if the Roy family had a glitzy budget and worked in mega churches. [The actors] take clothing and take it to another level, Flannery said. One example is a lacy pink dress with a huge flower on the shoulder that Tiffany (Valyn Hall) wears in the third episode of season 3.

It kept coming back to him, Flannery said. It was amazing and maybe it sold the joke more.

The right gemstones
The Righteous Gemstones Season 3 (Photo credit: HBO)

Even more extreme is the outfit Baby Billy (Walton Goggins) is wearing when we first meet him in this final season. The poolside singer at a Christian-themed timeshare resort first turns to face the camera, wearing a pastel blue suit with a matching oyster shell strapped to his back. The idea for Goggins to wear an oyster shell was not originally planned in the script. Flannery introduced it to McBride when she replaced costume designer Sarah Trost for season 3. She designed the look as Liberace meets Wayne Newton.

It kept getting bigger, she said. I was nervous because it was too much. I sent it to (Danny) and he thought it was hilarious. We redid the scene a bit to encompass the Baby Billy show and give him more air time.

According to Flannery, Goggins also liked the costume, despite its weight of eight pounds. He was dying, he loved it so much, she said.

Jesse (Danny McBride) in The Righteous Gemstones (Photo credit: HBO)

After the oyster shell idea came to fruition, Flannery felt quite willing to push the boundaries further and in The Righteous Gemstones there is plenty of room to do so, even within the framework of his own set of fashion rules. Since the series is set in conservative South Carolina, skirts often hit just above the knees, cleavage is largely covered, and most of the men wear suits. Flannery tries to dress the gems by balancing the clothes they would have access to in their area with what they consider fashionable and what they could get away with, she said. Danny loves the show [to feel] authentic, and the clothes are not necessarily immediately a joke.

Because it's a comedy about three spoiled adult children, forever trapped in their parents' shadows, even the most high-end designer clothes seem gauche. This means that Bob Mackie's designs make Judy (Edi Patterson) look like
Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire from the 80s, as Flannery said; Jesse (McBride) presents himself as Miami's nerdiest mob version of someone who can afford Versace; and Kelvin (Adam Devine) looking like a pastor from TikTok,
complete with deep V-necks and too many pearl necklaces. The disconnect between richness and taste is intentional.

The right gemstones
The Righteous Gemstones Season 3 (Photo credit: HBO)

They're trying to be cool, but it's just not happening, she said. This desperation also appears in the third season's flashbacks, which show the teenage version of Jesse (J. Gaven Wilde) showing off what Flannery called a South Pole FUBU look and a silk suit inspired by Dale Earnhardt and Elvis . As for teenager Judy (Emma Shannon), she strives to have her own Britney Spears moment.

She tries really hard to be a little sexy and cool,” Flannery said. It does not work.

Despite all the luxury pieces incorporated into the show, Flannery strives to keep her costumes under budget. I come from a long line of savers. I own vintage stores and things like that, so I get high finding something at a discount, she said. [My team] I'll find a few that we absolutely love, and then we'll be like, Oh, my god. Let's find it on Etsy for $500 less.

This frugality makes up for the more over-the-top items that cannot be returned. That’s what makes it a dream job, Flannery said. Most of the time we can say to ourselves: OK, this is absolutely disgusting. Let's make it our own.

This story first appeared in the Comedy Series issue of TheWraps Awards magazine.

A version of this story first appeared in the Comedy Series issue of TheWraps Awards magazine. Learn more about the number here.

Larry David photographed by Mary Ellen Matthews
Larry David photographed by Mary Ellen Matthews




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