4 Questions With ‘Grey Gardens: The Musical’ St. Louis Costume Designer JC Krajicek

By Brooke Lowrey
In Style

Tony-award winning musical “Grey Gardens” is making its St. Louis premiere this summer and we spoke with JC Krajicek, costume designer, to discuss the process for bringing the show’s iconic fashion to life.

Photo by John Lamb.

Photo by John Lamb.

What is your process for beginning to design for a show that has such an idolized fashion aspect such as Grey Gardens?
JK:
You know, whenever I first researched the fashion, I knew it would be difficult to find items from previous eras beginning with the 1940s. I really hoped I would find more things to purchase and rent, but I ultimately needed to create a lot of the pieces, which means lots of research of vintage sewing patterns. That’s always difficult because the sizes don’t always match up to our modern sizes and finding certain pieces—like men’s 1940s dinner jackets–has been pretty difficult.

Did you include any surprise details or vintage pieces that can be found locally?
JK:
I have definitely shopped a lot of local places. We really wanted the iconic broach to be a replica, so we did tons of research and we contacted a jeweler friend to see if we could have them made. In the end, we went ahead and bought a replica one from the Grey Gardens website. We found ourselves having to buy multiples because there are so many quick changes in Act II with Little Edie, and she changes her head pieces so much that one [broach] wouldn’t be enough. It changes placement on her looks but it really is a staple piece throughout the story. We like to joke that this is a musical about a broach.

How many looks did you create?
JK: I haven’t counted them but I’m like, “wow, this is a lot!”

What was your favorite part about working on “Grey Gardens”?
JK:
Getting to know Little Edie and the relationship she had with her mother. There was a little bit of resentment of course from Little Edie blaming her mom for all the things she didn’t do, but in the end they just really loved and needed each other. They are quite fascinating, and learning about the fashion was another layer on top of it. It seems like in the end, with all of that guilt and destitution around them, they didn’t seem unhappy and I found that amazing. You feel sorry for them, but you also don’t feel like they want you to feel sorry for them.

“Grey Gardens” opens July 8 and runs select nights through July 30 at The Wool Studio Theatre in the JCC’s Staenberg Family Complex. For more information, visit maxandlouie.com.

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