Good Grief, Dan Levy's feature directorial debut follows the grief arc of its lead character, Marc, as he navigates life without his husband. The film takes place over the course of a year but spends much of its time in winter. As such, we see a parade of beautiful coats, jackets, and sweaters throughout the movie's runtime. Who's responsible for the look of the film? Julian Day!
The costume designer is known for his work on the musical biopics, Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody, but in this Netflix original Day didn't outfit an icon for the big screen. Instead he created a sartorial wonder that also inspired the kind of comfort one would hope for from a wintry film that deals heavily with finding yourself after loss.
I had the opportunity to speak to Day about the fashion in Good Grief and its versatility. He pointed out that though the movie does take place from one Christmas to the next, there are seasons between so his color palette had to reflect the passing of time as well. He wanted to "keep it real and contemporary and relevant to the seasons and what we're doing at the time."
But Day was also aware that Dan Levy loves a coat. "Full stop," as he put it and that the actor/director loves fashion. As a fellow lover of coats, to the point that he would wear one in the summer as a kid, Day said he managed to get a lot of coats into the film. His favorite was a piece from The Row which Marc wears on his arrival to Paris with his best friends Thomas and Sophie.
The coat calls back to the '80s and, for Day, pays real homage to that decade of style. He highlighted this idea with a nod to Highlander, the 1986 action adventure film, that features what Day is convinced is an Armani jacket, one that's double breasted and speaks to one of the fashion house's most notable silhouettes.
When conceptualizing the wardrobes for this trio of friends, Day thought about who they are within the film. Marc he saw as loving fashion like Levy does. He said:
"If you know Dan, or you've spoken to him, his fashion knowledge, his clothing knowledge is immense. It was a real pleasure to work with a director that was interested in clothes, for clothes to tell the story of characters. So that was really a real delight. We talked and it was just this idea of [Marc] being somebody that was into art fashion books and [had] just an all around general knowledge of what he was doing."
Whereas Sophie's eclectic style came from her occupation as a costume designer. The eccentric nature of Ruth Negga's character also comes to life in her vintage clothing, contemporary fashion, and pieces Day thought she would take from her job and wear.
Thomas' attire was art imitating life. Day said he'd laughed when speaking to Levy about what Himesh Patel's costuming would entail because "Dan just looked at me and said I want him to look like you." So a lot of Thomas' clothes actually come from Day's own closet.
Day gravitates toward Japanese clothing, so his take on Thomas' wardrobe is a mix of London street style and a Japanese aesthetic plus black which the designer wears a lot of himself, so Patel was the easiest to dress.
The goal in putting together the looks we see throughout Good Grief wasn't to showcase "individual luxury" but rather to create a "rounded wardrobe," and for the film to have a sense of timelessness to it. As Day said:
"It was a love story to fashion from that point of view and not just about contemporary fashion but fashion from a couple of decades ago, about street fashion, but also high end fashion."
It's the designer's hope that in 20 years from now Good Grief doesn't look dated upon viewing and that's what he tries to ensure with a lot of his work because "fashion is endless and it's timeless."
Having seen the beauty of the film, I believe Julian Day accomplished exactly what he set out to do.