On Sunday night’s episode of Insecure, every detail of every costume was designed by a Black woman—from clothing to accessories to shoes. It’s a fashion first for the series, intentionally accomplished by longtime costume designer Shiona Turini and executive producer and writer Amy Aniobi, who also directed the episode. It goes hand in hand not only with the overarching theme of the show—a celebration of and devotion to Black womanhood—but also with the theme of the seventh episode itself, which features best friends Issa, Molly, Kelly, and Tiffany bonding over the course of a day that morphs into a cozy night sewn with secrets.
“I thought it could be really interesting to devote one episode that was so focused on this friendship to celebrate Black women and make it a really intentional experience,” Turini explains in a joint Zoom call with Aniobi.
Turini first had the idea while watching Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration. In the lead-up, there had been much talk about supporting Black designers, as well as speculation about what Kamala Harris, who was about to become the first Black and South Asian vice president in American history, would wear. She ultimately chose looks by brands Pyer Moss and Christopher John Rogers, sparking excitement over her decision to highlight two Black designers. While Turini is a fan of both labels and has featured looks from both on Insecure, she realized with disappointment that “no one wore any Black female designers.”
After a table read for episode seven, she texted Aniobi her idea. “I felt chills,” Aniobi says. “It just became an encompassing idea that became really fun to play with, from their shoes to their socks to their jewelry.” The idea was infectious, to the point where they wanted every practical prop to come from a Black female-owned brand. “The makeup they have on set, the liquor they drank, the coffee…” Aniobi says, running down the laundry list.
“We were like, ‘What about these mugs? They’re from a Black designer!’” Turini chimes in. “On any other episode, it would have been so hard because there’s so many moving parts…but because this episode takes place primarily in Issa’s house, this is where we can really play with this concept.”
The episode starts with casual chic looks as each lady arrives at Issa’s house, ready to drink and smoke some weed before heading out for a relaxing spa appointment. Issa wears a Fe Noel plaid button-down, a Lionne tank top, Sorella bike shorts, and Brother Vellies shoes. Molly wears a denim ensemble by Samaria Leah and a tank top by Kendra Duplantier. (“She’s extremely talented,” Turini raves about the up-and-coming designer.) Kelly wears a dress by Zerina Akers for Macy’s. (“I’m so incredibly obsessed…it’s something I would wear,” Aniobi says.) Tiffany wears a tracksuit by Wales Bonner for Adidas—a nod to her obsession with trends and being a Cool Mom.
For Aniobi, the main challenge of the episode was coming up with dynamic blocking. She derived inspiration from the show Girlfriends and the film Waiting to Exhale, specifically the scenes in which the four women have a night in, dancing to TLC’s “Creep” over candlelight. But within her framing, she also wanted to highlight as much of each look as possible. Small, precise choices were made, like having Issa strategically kick her legs over a chair, or having Molly sprawl out over several pillows on the floor. “I felt bad for the girls sometimes because they were like, ‘Can I just sit down?’” Aniobi recalls. “And I’m like, No!”
The second key look of the episode features the ladies getting ready to go out. Issa wears a Lisa Folawiyo dress. Tiffany wears a crop top and skirt by House of Aama. Molly wears Aisling Kemp with shoes by Addie Samuel—a designer who was Turini’s assistant when she worked at Teen Vogue. (“I’m so proud of the moves she’s made in the industry.”) Kelly wears a robe by Misa Hylton for Macy’s and earrings by L’enchanteur.
Highlighting Hylton, a legend in the styling community, was personally vindicating for Turini. She outfitted Molly in a pair of Hylton boots in Insecure‘s fourth season, but the shoes didn’t get as much screen time as she would have liked. “I was like, ‘We need to see more of the boots!’” she recalled demanding. Aniobi laughs. “This is not Bootsecure!” the director adds. “Sometimes a great look doesn’t always fit the story that we’re telling.”
The third and final key look is the pajama party, with the girls transitioning into dreamy sleepwear. Both Turini and Aniobi say it’s their favorite set of ensembles. Issa wears a custom set by Bephie’s Beauty Supply and a bralette by Savage X, Rihanna’s lingerie brand. Kelly wears Diarrablu. All four women wear Brother Vellies shoes.
If the two had had their way, there would have been several more outfit changes for all four women—as well as from supporting characters Lawrence, Condola, and Nathan, all of whom make brief appearances in the episode and also wear looks by Black female designers. Rae, however, stepped in to curb their enthusiasm at a certain point. “Issa ruined our lives and told us we couldn’t add more outfits,” Turini says.
“She wrote an email being like, ‘Just to be clear—this is the same day!’” Aniobi recalls.
Working so closely on episode seven was a bonding experience for Turini and Aniobi, both of whom are Virgos and act accordingly. In the past, Turini jokes they’ve been on rocky ground because Aniobi was usually tasked with giving costume notes: “I was like, You’re my nemesis.”
“She literally called me her nemesis to my face, on set, to other people, in texts—everywhere,” Aniobi says, corroborating.
The two eventually got used to each other’s working styles, and were able to predict how the other would respond to certain ideas and suggestions. “It did become like working with family,” Turini says.
Now that Insecure is nearly over, both of them hope to have similar working experiences in the future. In the meantime, they have warm reflections of the show, satisfied with the place it carved out in the culture and assured of the legacy it will leave behind. “I hope that in 10 years, or in 20 years, when people are watching reruns of Insecure, they still feel connected to the wardrobe,” Turini says. She adds that other costume designers—not just Black designers—should add Black female designers to their shows. “It doesn’t always have to be on the shoulders of us,” she says.
Aniobi agrees, noting how thoroughly Insecure supported Black talent and made representation part of its mission. “From the music to the wardrobe to the locations, [Insecure] is a capsule of our culture now,” Aniobi says. “I don’t know what show will come next that embraces us so deeply in this way. I want that to continue. I don’t want this to be a moment. But it’s been a beautiful one so far.”
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