INTERVIEW: ‘Ted Lasso’ Costume Designer Jacky Levy
Apple TV+’s award-winning series Ted Lasso unexpectedly captured the heart of the nation when it aired during lockdown last year. The endearing tale of a small-time American football coach hired to coach the struggling English team AFC Richmond quickly trended on social media, due to the surprisingly touching fish-out-water tale full of forgiveness, empathy and optimism (along with plenty of biscuits!)
We recently had the opportunity to chat with the show’s costume director, Jacky Levy, about the process of putting together Richmond FC’s various football kits and which character’s wardrobe is her favourite.
Can you talk me through the process of designing and creating the three football kits, as you have the home, away and training uniforms. And there’s sponsors involved with the kits too.
Yes, I know it was an involved process. I actually came on board a week into filming the first series, because the first costume designer was asked to leave. So I came on board, and the first process of getting the whole kit together had already been done – so I wasn’t party to that – but I will be in the next series as we will be changing the kit. Also every season that football clubs have, they also have a new kit. So I will be involved in that, which will be quite a lengthy process. You have to find a supplier to make it first of all, and then design the three different kits – the home kit, the away kit and the training kit.
So yeah, it will be a collaborative effort between myself and the graphic designer who will be designing any logos to be embroidered on to the tops. Once the actual kit is designed, you then have to have the Richmond badge (which won’t change) embroidered, then you have to have the logo badge embroidered on, along with their names and their numbers printed on the back. Then, as they pass through different leagues, they have different badges on their arms as well. Which is quite a process!
Do you know whether there were any inspirations for the colours at all? It felt like a very authentic kit with dashes of Crystal Palace and Barcelona.
Yes, I think Crystal Palace was used as inspiration. We do actually use the Crystal Palace ground, you know, for a lot of our exteriors. We also have various clubs that we play – some are proper clubs, like we play Manchester City, we play Spurs and we play Sheffield Wednesday in this last series. We do also have a couple of fictitious clubs, and we do vaguely use certain clubs as inspiration for the new designs.
I adored Rebecca’s wardrobe – It was absolutely fantastic! Her power suits and dresses were really fabulous, especially in episode four with the stunning black dress with gold detailing. Could you delve into the inspiration for her outfits?
Yeah, that dress was absolutely lovely. She’s a multimillionaire in the programme, so for that dress we wanted something that was stunning and fitted with certain details down the back, so we included a fish to goldfish tail. So it had aspects in every angle that you looked at it, to make a lovely picture. So, I think the main idea was that she should look stunning wherever she was, but with a sort of understated style.
Jamie was another fun character to dress, he had his ICON cap, his man bag and a lot of bold patterns as well. Did you base his costumes around any specific footballers at all?
Well, no one specifically. I mean, it’s always a collaborative process because I like the actors to feel comfortable – so I always chat with them in detail first. Jamie had an inspiration, a rapper called H that he uses, but there weren’t any specific footballers that I had in mind. I drew my inspiration from several players. He also needed to be a little bit bold and over the top, so we just kind of went for it!
Jamie’s wardrobe is such a contrast to Roy Kent’s, as Roy predominantly wears toned-down neutral colours with an emphasis on black and grey.
Yes – I think we just sort of settled on that as it seemed to suit Brett, who plays Roy. I think because he’s a sort of no nonsense person – he speaks his mind – he doesn’t really have an interest in clothes, but he still needed to look good. He’s also tough and it just seemed to work that he had this almost uniform that he always puts on, so that he doesn’t have to think about it. He just puts on his black jeans, his black top and his leather jacket and we actually haven’t changed it in series two either.
Keeley is another great character to dress – I noticed that her wardrobe has evolved throughout the season and matured.
Her wardrobe does mature and it keeps on maturing as we go through season two as well. Because she gets a job at the club and she becomes an influencer and does all the marketing. So yes, it is a gentle maturing of her, but still keeping it quite a wild and high fashion. But yeah, always fun to do.
So Ted is just such a sweet, sweet character, isn’t he? He has this variety of coloured casual polos and shirts. Was there a process behind choosing those? Or was it what was comfy for him?
I think it’s that he feels comfortable in them, again it’s like a uniform for him, and I think he always wants to reflect the fact that he is from the US. Also being a certain age, he has got his look and he sticks to it. You know, he’s not fashion conscious, it’s just practical, he likes it and he knows what he’s going to wear every day. And now it’s become quite iconic, so we’ve more or less kept the same uniform for him.
Who would you say your favourite character’s wardrobe is?
Oh, it’s so difficult to say my favourite. I mean, I love doing Rebecca and Keeley but I also love doing all the footballers. It’s quite funny, because we were in the middle of filming the second series and in the last block we had a female director called Erika Denton, and she said “I never thought that dressing up boys could be so fun!” But it is fun dressing all of our footballer cast, there’s about nine of them and they’re all slightly different. They all have different characters, so each one is fun to dress.
Do you have a favourite character from the show? Or is that the same as the wardrobe?
Yeah, they’re all great characters – I love them all! You can’t not love Ted, obviously. And then they’ve all got their sort of quirkiness – Nate’s so sweet and makes me laugh so much, as well as Beard. Higgins is hilarious even if he doesn’t have lines – if you watch his face, he makes you laugh. All the footballers have their own personalities too, like Dani Rojas with his football is his life, you know, and Isaac’s very funny, again with his expressions. So I like them all in their own way.
The second series of Ted Lasso will launch on streaming service Apple TV+ 23 July 2021.
There will be more Ted Lasso interviews (with the show’s Casting Director and Production Designer) available exclusively in Issue #5 of the JUMPCUT MAGAZINE.