Interview With Prime Suspect’s Costume Designer Amy Stofsky
Prime Suspect’s costume designer Amy Stofsky is known for her ability to create wearable, realistic wardrobes for lead characters of hit shows like Weeds, Pretty Little Liars and Medium. Her ability to perfectly embody a character’s personal style without making the clothes a central or distracting feature is what makes Stofsky one of the most sought after designers in the industry. Real Style caught up with Stofsky for her secrets behind Maria Bello’s Prime Suspect character style, Jane Timoney, and television’s most buzzed about hat.
Real Style: How did you get into costume design?
Amy Stofsky: I’m from New York and had worked in the Garment Center for many years when I decided to move out to Los Angeles. I thought it would be more interesting and more creative. Since I had so many years working with clothing and collections in New York, it just seemed like a logical transition.
Real Style: We heard that you developed the costume for Maria Bello’s character, Jane Timoney, on Prime Suspect with the actress herself. How did that work?
Amy Stofsky: That’s usually how it is when you’re working with someone of Maria’s caliber. She’s a very thoughtful actor. Prior to being officially hired, I met with Maria and as it turns out we had both pulled stuff from magazines and did research and had similar ideas. It was a good fit from the get go. Because of the nature of her character it just seemed that a lot of the menswear influences made sense because of the things she did. She is an active police detective, so it’s good to have her looking like she lives in [contemporary] New York instead of like a dated detective. She did not want to look like the other women on television and that was fine with me. We wanted to mix some ying and yang, some masculine and feminine and give her a different look. We all agreed on the look.
Amy Stofsky: No. She does have a few trendy things, but when you are doing a TV show, it’s best to keep it as classic as possible. You take the classics and give them a twist, so if someone is watching it’s not like ‘Oh, she got that shirt at Banana Republic in November 2011.’ You’re influenced by the runway because that’s what is in the stores. Maria’s stuff is mostly classics. We went for a classic Burberry raincoat as her main coat and kept a lot of Burberry pieces because they are so cool. You work with the actor to make it work.
Real Style: Were you surprised by all of the buzz around the hat that Maria wears?
Amy Stofsky: Yes! To me, the world is falling apart, we are in so many wars, there is starvation, earthquakes, hurricanes and people are talking about a hat. I don’t know. I’ve got to look at the bigger picture in life. It’s so strange to me, but the more publicity for the show the better.
Real Style: Where did the hat comes from?
Amy Stofsky: A friend of [Maria’s], this woman Claire, had it. When we were shooting the pilot in New York, Maria appeared one day and said, ‘Amy, my friend Claire gave me this hat. What do you think?’ I said ‘I love it.’ Earlier she had said that she wanted something that would be like Columbo’s raincoat or Kojak’s lollipop. She wanted something that was as visually impactful as that. It made sense to me, it just needed approval from the producers. Maria is a pretty strong lady and being in this business for as long as she has, once she decided on the hat there was no stopping her.