Chatting biker chic style with Sons of Anarchy costume designer Kelli Jones
Costume designer Kelli Jones could easily be one of the badass biker chicks she dresses on
Sons of Anarchy. (When we meet, she rolls in wearing a
black moto jacket, leather sleeveless top and black denim pants—“My own style has evolved with the show,” she tells me later in our interview). The biker-clad show set in the fictional town of Charming, California, heads into its sixth season this month. Last year, Jones was nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for her work sourcing
leather jackets and accessories from the Los Angeles area—other pieces she designs herself—to outfit the motorcycle-minded cast (from Katey Sagal to Charlie Hunnam, who was just announced to play Christian Grey in the upcoming
Fifty Shades of Grey film). To create their looks, “I’ll either go to Beverly Hills or the everything’s-$5 Armenian store. It’s like patchwork.” Jones says. “And on set, the boys’ outfits are pretty bitchin,’ but the attitude that they all envelop when they get in those clothes, it’s cool to see.”
You’ve been with the show since day one—how has the style and costume evolved each season? “I talked with a real motorcycle club—Hell’s Angels was one of the groups that I talked to. And I really needed to look at their fashion because I wanted to make everything pretty realistic. And its funny because the first time I met with [creator Kurt Sutter]—I’ve known him for a while, but the first time I met with him for this show—he was like, ‘Kelli, this show is not about wardrobe—it’s gritty. It’s like
The Shield.’ I was a costumer on
The Shield and he was a writer. How [Sons of Anarchy] evolved into this fashion world has been kind of a cool ride. Honestly, when I first got involved, I thought it was just wife beaters and jeans, and that’s it. Because in your mind, you think of bikers and that’s all they wear. So the more I learned about the younger bikers, I found that it’s more of like an urban hip-hop flair. And for the women, it’s very sexy and put together. Everyone had in their mind that maybe it was white trash years ago in the ’70s or ’80s, and it’s just not like that anymore.”
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THIS. Sons of Anarchy
star Charlie Hunnam. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The biker uniform—leather jackets, cutoff denim, bandannas—seems to be a staple throughout the wardrobe but it’s worn differently by each character. “That had a lot to do with what the guys liked—their own personal flair—and it’s really what some of these guys wear in motorcycle clubs. The white tennis shoes—I don’t want to say gang but it’s sort of like a gang—they all wear the same colours, it’s like a uniform. So to make it young and sexy—because it’s also on TV, and these actors are good-looking guys—I wanted to make them look sexy. I always say that if I can dress actors in a way to make people want to undress them, then my job is done. Especially on this show.”
Well you can’t really go wrong with leather jackets and jeans… “I know! You can just add a really cool belt. And the guys are great, and Katey [Sagal] is great. And they have fun with it too. A lot of the guys have evolved so that’s actually what they wear now.”
Costume designer Kelli Jones living, breathing, being biker chic.
We’ve been seeing so much leather and ’70s punk influence on the runways in the past few seasons. It seems like there’s some overlap with the show going on. “There is!
3.1 Phillip Lim is
biker chic for [Fall 2013]. And honestly, I have not paid attention to what has been coming out of the Paris shows, just because that hasn’t been the T.V. show that I’ve done. I love that coincidentally—just in the past couple years—that because of that, now I’m paying more attention. I don’t follow the trends for the show, I just do what feels organic and natural and sexy. It’s just been very amazing that the trends happen to be coming out have been more biker chic. And I happen to think it has a lot to do with
Sons of Anarchy in general, it’s the very first motorcycle show that’s taken off like this, and I think that’s ever been on. And because it’s so popular and it’s out there in every stretch of the world, the fashion industry is going to take notice of that.”
OVER TO YOU! Tell us, will you be watching
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