When you watch a Jordan Peele film, you know that no detail has been left to chance, and that includes the costumes. That said, Nope costume designer Alex Bovaird (whose past projects include American Honey and The White Lotus) says that Peele doesn’t have everything locked down prior to production.
“He can be both be hyper-specific and vague at the same time,” she tells Consequence. “I think because his movies are the same. He comes with ideas but he also expects ideas. He wants to be constantly challenged and work with creative people who have ideas. But he never really settles on something — he likes to workshop it, maybe because of his comedy/improv background. I feel like his process is organic and constantly tweaking things.”
This means, she says, that “he definitely has a lot of ideas and is very focused on the wardrobe, which is great because it makes me up my game. And he’s definitely collaborative — you’re definitely in it together.”
Bovaird first met Nope producer Ian Cooper when he and Peele were preparing for the Peele-produced remake of Candyman; because of scheduling, she wasn’t able to work on the horror film, but they stayed in touch. “He thought that I would be really good for Jordan because we’re the same age, we get a lot of the same things, the same references,” she says. “They love riffing off this looking like that, and stuff like that.”
The costumes might seem simple — in the film, after all, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) pretty much wears nothing but jeans, T-shirts, and one very important hoodie. But even those costumes are a lot more complex than you might think. For one thing, Bovaird says, ” I had to get multiples if they were stunts and blood,” which comprised no small portion of the outfits involved.
Also, anything with a logo on it first had to be found and also get approved by the legal entities involved — if you want to use a T-shirt with Prince’s face on it on screen, for example, you need to get the Prince estate to approve it. However, Bovaird says that the clearances weren’t too difficult. “We had really great people helping us at Universal and also, if it was really important, Ian would call and just be like ‘You have to make this happen! Jordan really wants it.’ I think they were all pretty easy to clear because I think, with Jordan Peele, everyone thinks he’s really cool.”
Below, Bovaird generously takes Consequence through all of the film’s most notable costume choices, including the general approach to OJ’s sister Emerald (Keke Palmer)’s many looks, a Rage Against the Machine T-shirt that gets the spotlight, and of course that now-iconic Scorpion King hoodie.
[Editor’s note: The following contains mild spoilers for Nope.]