From Classic Issey Miyake To Rachel Comey, Beef’s Trend Is As Dramatic As The Present

Beef. Ali Wong as Amy in episode 101 of Beef. Cr. Andrew Cooper/Netflix © 2023

Lee Sung Jin’s Beef, dropping on Netflix April 6, kicks off with a high-speed automobile chase via the residential streets of LA’s San Fernando Valley after a close to fender bender within the car parking zone of Forsters, a fictional Costco-like retailer. Driving his beat-up pickup truck, down-on-his-luck contractor Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) initially assumes his street rage nemesis is a person. However, because the digital camera quickly reveals, as a substitute of Dominic Toretto, a petite girl sits behind the wheel of a white Mercedes SUV. 

Later, secure in her storage, self-made entrepreneur Amy Lau (Ali Wong) steadily regains her composure. Her ensemble – an ivory cable-knit bucket hat (with the brim playfully flipped up), a quilted oatmeal jacket by Tonlé, and a tonal Eileen Fisher cashmere sweater – feels as mushy and calming as Amy’s Insta-popular plant model, Kōyō Haus. It additionally feels deliberately antithetical to her code purple outburst from earlier. “She could be very curated in that ‘Instagram-y’ manner,” says costume designer Helen Huang. This concept of contradictions – that beneath our pristinely curated appearances is a simmering effectively of complexity, fury, and disgrace – is a recurrent theme all through the 10-episode sequence.

“Amy has a fancy dress that she places on each day and that’s the picture that she initiatives,” says Huang, who beforehand dressed Emma Roberts in Holidate, received an Emmy as a part of costume designer Lou Eyrich’s group on American Horror Story, and imagined a dystopian future in Station Eleven

Beef. Ali Wong as Amy in episode 101 of Beef. Cr. Andrew Cooper/Netflix © 2023

For Amy’s Calabasas mom-fluencer persona, Huang seemed to Korean American designer and proprietor of Los Angeles-based Mohawk Normal Retailer, Bo Carney, for inspiration. Huang additionally referenced the glossy and comforting vibe of Kōyō Haus, which an overwhelmed Amy needs to promote to Forsters to lastly spend time along with her Insta-perfect household. “We tried to make use of a whole lot of natural materials; issues which can be cozier. We tried to decorate her from the angle of an inventive individual,” says Huang. 

Amy’s calming Coastal Grandma tones are a sartorial entrance for the darkish feelings and impulses she retains hidden from her household and world at massive. All through the sequence, Danny and Amy proceed to pour their angst over societal and familial expectations, insecurities, resentments, and disappointments into more and more abhorrent conduct as they search revenge upon one another. The 2 first meet face-to-face (neither really noticed one another throughout the street rage chase) after Danny cons his manner into Amy’s picture-perfect home and interrupts Amy partaking in an intimate second.

Beef. Ali Wong as Amy in episode 101 of Beef. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

“[Wong] really wished a skirt for the masturbation sequence,” explains Huang, about Amy’s languid set from Baserange. “We wished to be extraordinarily impartial for that scene, as a result of that scene is tremendous, tremendous intense.” The pure linen texture completely aligns with the mild, earthy facade Amy constructs to masks her true disposition and intentions. 

Later, getting ready to seal the Forsters deal, Amy heads to Las Vegas for the retail juggernaut’s annual assembly. Going via an existential disaster, Amy provides herself a mode transformation and debuts a extreme bleached blonde bob and her model of a “energy go well with”: a sleeveless, deconstructed, black pinstriped Proenza Schouler gown with a fringe hem. “Amy attire arty, so she would positively hold her sense of self in that manner, however [then] transition right into a extra severe coloration, in her thoughts,” says Huang, who advanced Amy into darker colours as she makes progressively questionable selections. 

Beef. (L to R) Steven Yeun as Danny, Ali Wong as Amy in episode 107 of Beef. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Within the misleading calm earlier than the ultimate storm, Amy returns to her pure hair coloration and reassuring neutrals, like a white cutout gown by Rachel Comey. “At that second, she felt like she had her life extra collectively, so to shift again to the white felt extra pure,” says Huang. The 2 adversaries have a quick second of connection. However that’s rapidly annihilated after the gown actually reveals Amy’s reprehensible motion that can result in emotional and bodily carnage to these closest to the duo. 

Beef. Steven Yeun as Danny in episode 101 of Beef. Cr. Andrew Cooper/Netflix © 2023

Her plush hues and architectural silhouettes additionally diverge from El Segundo-based condo dweller Danny’s all-thrifted utilitarian T-shirts and zip-up jackets in grays and blues. “That was vital to me, to distinction the totally different Asian communities, and the place they stay,” says Huang, who grew up in Los Angeles. For first-generation Korean American Danny, she referenced her step-brothers who hail from the commercial, LAX-adjacent metropolis. “Though his garments aren’t as costly — or as curated as Amy’s — he nonetheless has a picture of what he needs to current to the world,” says Huang. “Nobody on this present escapes that.”

Amy’s husband and stay-at-home dad George (Joseph Lee), the son of a revered Isamu Noguchi-esque Japanese American artist, conducts faculty pickups like he walked out of a Cluél Homme editorial. “I wished to point out that not solely is he [Amy’s] counterpart on this curated world, but in addition that Asian males are extraordinarily trendy and might pull off something,” says Huang, who dressed George in Japanese labels like Kapital, Batoner, and WTAPS, in addition to cool European manufacturers like Nanushka, Zits, and Officine Générale.

Beef. (L to R) Patti Yasutake as Fumi, Remy Holt as June, Joseph Lee as George in episode 102 of Beef. Cr. Andrew Cooper/Netflix © 2023

However it’s George’s mom, Fumi (Patti Yasutake) who has the final word aptitude for conceptual style. Huang and creator Lee envisioned her to be “actually trendy” and Commes des Garçons-referential, whereas additionally taking inspiration from Opening Ceremony founder Humberto Leon. Fumi’s black-and-white polka dot Junya Watanabe gown, early-‘80s Issey Miyake, and classic Yohji Yamamoto and CDG distinction along with her daughter-in-law’s fashionable minimalism — and spotlight the totally different strategies each robust ladies use to exert management over their difficult lives and trauma. “You create the reality you need to inhabit,” says Fumi, in divergent red-and-white patterns, to Amy, clad in her signature solids. 

“I actually wished to point out [a woman of Fumi’s generation] with a perspective,” says Huang. “Not dressing simply to point out off their our bodies, however to point out off an identification.” 

Additionally in Amy’s orbit, gossip-y actual housewife Naomi (Ashley Park) attire to ship her personal message, whereas gunning for a spot on the “Folks to Watch” checklist for Calabasas Fashion journal — which already profiled Amy. Huang took inspiration from Asian American influencer multihyphenates, like Aimee Music and Chriselle Lim, whereas additionally avoiding sartorial similarity to Park’s Emily in Paris character, Mindy, who’s additionally a wealthy socialite. In a single scene, ensconced in her huge walk-in closet and feeling rejected by Amy, Naomi dejectedly fashions a shaggy brown coat over a blue, floral, puff-sleeve Reformation gown and contemplates two designer luggage, one in all which supplies Valentino Rockstud vibes.

Beef. Ali Wong as Amy, Ashley Park as Naomi in episode 106 of Beef. Cr. Andrew Cooper/Netflix © 2023

“She’s just like the influencer that does the ‘fundamental’ look after which has a bag with the brand,” says Huang, who additionally dressed Naomi in influencer-popular labels, like Alo Yoga and Self Portrait. “She’s not inventive like Amy or Fumi. She’s not a really daring dresser in any manner.” Naomi “curates” her search for the ‘gram and her social standing, whereas wielding her logomania purses and equipment as clout.

“It was this concept of everybody [on this show] being very acutely aware of the best way that they current themselves to the world,” says Huang. 

The outcomes are proof of the ability of style as a mirrored image of identification.

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