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How Lurking On Wall Street Influenced 'Succession' Fashion

Ruth Etiesit Samuel, HUFFPOST

May 1, 2023

Michelle Matland would study the Murdochs and other wealthy people as she envisioned the HBO show's costume design.

With almost 40 years of experience in the industry, Michelle Matland is the costume designer behind HBO's "Succession."

For “Who’s Behind the Clothes,” Matland talked to HuffPost about styling the critically acclaimed HBO series “Succession.”

For “Who’s Behind the Clothes,” Matland talked to HuffPost about styling the critically acclaimed HBO series “Succession.”

What was the allure of “Succession” for you? Did you expect the fashion to be such a talking point now during its final season?

The allure was that a wonderful creative producer named Jonathan Filley — and I’m working with him again right now — offered me this incredible opportunity. Other than him being a fabulous person and knowing that anything he was attached to meant it was going to be fun, the allure was that the crew on that project resounded as a huge, huge group of talent, to be honest, and an opportunity to work with an incredible cast. I didn’t know anything about the show, so it wasn’t specifically the storyline. It was just an opportunity to work with incredible people, and that always makes the project brilliant. It doesn’t matter what the storyline is if it’s a great cast and crew. It turned out that the storyline itself was equally remarkable and special. It was some of the best years I can think of in costume and detailing, for me.

Exactly. There’s been a lot of discussion throughout this series about “stealth-wealth” and “quiet luxury.” Was that what you were intentionally going for when you were designing for the series? Did you have to do any studying or preparation, looking at dynastic families like the Murdochs?

To begin with, I don’t know that when we started this series six years ago, or whenever it was, there was such a thing as stealth-wealth. If there was, I didn’t know it. There was no such thing as that kind of luxe that I was aware of. By the time I started this show, we had to begin at the beginning. We did a lot of research. We followed wealth, these wealthy folk, these industry people; of course, we followed the Murdochs. I still follow them. Now I’m even more interested than I was before because I didn’t know that they existed. I had heard of the Trumps, but I didn’t realize that that’s a different kind of wealth than what we’re talking about.

We would go down to Wall Street, and we would stand outside the buildings. When they came in in the morning and we would watch the limos, cars or Ubers come up, we would see the difference between the lowly secretary to the woman in the boardroom. We would clock the difference between how they looked, the suit length, skirt length, jacket length, handbag, who carried a purse, who didn’t, who was wearing a backpack — all of those little details ended up telling us the story of the hierarchy of the elite and the worker bee. That was the beginning of our research.

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