Back in March, FX premiered its latest comedy series, Dave, which may be considered a sleeper pick of 2020 for some. The premise is simple enough. If you’re a fan of rapper Lil’ Dicky, the story may be familiar. It follows Dave, played by Lil’ Dicky (Dave Burd) on his journey to be taken seriously as a rapper living in Los Angeles with sophomoric humor and exaggerated celebrity encounters. It deals with Dave awkwardly navigating the star-studded rap world in studio sessions with YG or at mansion parties with Young Thug and Gunna. Much like the real rapper, we see Dave struggle with being pigeonholed as a comedy rapper. And on a more serious note, the show deals with more relatable issues 20-somethings face including relationship problems.
The 10-episode season appears to have a level of authenticity other network television shows lack. Part of that is thanks to its streetwear-infused wardrobe. The series’ costume designer Romy Itzigsohn has worked in the space for over a decade on feature films, Madden commercial shoots, and more. She got her start in fashion, working for defunct Los Angeles boutique Suh-tahn where she learned processes like manufacturing and dyeing. She would later move to San Francisco where she worked as a director’s assistant and took a liking to the behind the scenes aspect of tv and film production. She saw costume design as a way to marry her two passions. Dave was actually her first ever television show.
“Dave really didn't want the show to look like ‘TV.’ That was the big concept for all departments. He didn't want it to look like glossy network television,” says Itzigsohn. “He wanted it to feel authentic, but we all had to learn how to do that in real time.”
He would improvise on the fly and was very particular about minute details like sock color, things Itzigsohn had to take into consideration on any given shoot day. However, her personal goal was to showcase as many Los Angeles streetwear brands that she could. For example, characters wear items like an Online Ceramics tie-dye T-shirt, Stüssy jacket, or Brain Dead sweatpants in the first season. Elz, played by Travis “Taco” Bennett of Odd Future fame, rocks some of the more stylish fits throughout the season from a vintage Indiana Pacers Reggie Miller Champion jersey to a striped Supreme crewneck. Justin Bieber appears for a cameo wearing a red Fear of God fitted cap he is frequently spotted in in real life. Young Thug wore his brand Spider for his memorable appearance. It’s what you would expect to really see these people wearing.
We got a chance to speak with Itzigsohn during quarantine about working with Burd on set, sourcing pieces for the show, what intrigues her about today’s streetwear landscape, and more.
So how exactly does that come about, you being the costume designer for Dave?
I was introduced to the show by the production designer Almitra Corey. She and I have worked together on a few films in the past and we've known each other for years. She worked on the pilot and really liked the whole team. When they were starting to put the crew together for the show, she told them about me and we met a couple times. I think for Dave, it also being his first show, he was sort of curious about how it would work, how he has a very particular personality and how we would work well together, especially under the pressure of production.
When you're brought on to the show, what is intriguing to you about the show and its process?
Well, it was interesting because half of the cast were playing themselves, obviously Dave, GaTa is playing GaTa. Then, the other side with Ally's (Taylor Misiak) character, Elz's (Travis “Taco” Bennett) character, and Mike's (Andrew Santino) character, they were all playing real people that existed, but they were actors. I think Emma's (Christine Ko) character was the only fictional character. So it was interesting. I didn't know any of these people going in. I didn't know any of the real people. I hadn't worked with any of these actors. And so it was sort of a process of discovering how far we wanted to go in matching reality. It turned out we didn't go very far into matching reality. Luckily everyone is young and stylish naturally. So it wasn't a challenge to get into the creative with anyone and come up with a concept.
Dave really didn't want the show to look like "TV". That was the big concept for all departments. He didn't want it to look like glossy network television. And I think that's why he ended up with people who had done more film than TV work on the creative side. But he didn't want it to look like a hyper stylized film either. He wanted it to feel authentic, but we all had to learn how to do that in real time.
It is essentially his life story turned up a little bit in the exaggeration department. Is Dave giving a lot of input as far as the outfits he and the characters wear?
Dave has an opinion. He misses nothing. He has a very sharp eye and a high capacity for information. So anything from the color of a prop toothbrush to the shoelaces on another character's shoes, he can take all of that information in as well as write and perform his lines and work with the people behind the monitor. Then after work, he would go and watch every single take of every single shot and discuss them with us late into the night.
Is there something especially rewarding about working on Dave because of that unique way that you had to go about certain things?
Yeah. It felt like a huge achievement to live through it. I really do enjoy working with Dave and that's the only reason that any of it would be worth it.
Did you have a favorite episode to style? Did you have a favorite character to dress?
I think the finale was my favorite, not just for the costumes, but I think it was also my favorite episode. I liked when we had all of or most of our cast in an episode. And Dave was obviously one of my favorites costume-wise. So was Emma. I believe Emma will be more prominent in season two. So just setting up this character that we haven't totally gotten to know yet, that was an interesting task. Taco could pull anything off. I mean, he was just a guy who can look amazing in anything. We used a lot of vintage for him and he made it look brand new.
Like you said, you guys wanted it to feel authentic. It's always interesting to see a show dress characters in a way that you really see people dressing outside.
Yeah. We were trying to be authentic. I think we've been able to prove ourselves collectively as a group of people who've made the show and the next season, I think we'll be able to take that to another level.