How Jonah Hill nailed classic skate style for the mid-90s

adminOctober 18, 2018

The director for the first time (and a genuine style icon) guides us through the costumes of his film.

There is no nostalgia porn and there is no porn skate. Those were the only two governing rules that Jonah Hill had for Mid 90's. The film, which centers around a gang of young skaters from Los Angeles, does, in the mid-1990s, mark the twice-Oscar-nominated debut as a writer and director. "Those things make things corny," says Hill. "These things get screwed up so easily in movies because skateboarding always kills itself so badly, our marching order was to respect skateboarding."

The recently created filmmaker is right: few films about skating have done well. Historically, they have twisted and struggled, usually driven by someone who seems to have taken a look at the original material. Mid 90's is not that. It's meticulously detailed, from the way teenage skaters talk to each other to baggy jeans and oversized shirts. Costumes and costumes are crucial for any movie, but especially for a project like Mid 90's: a story set in a hyperspecific and fiercely protected subculture, an era recent enough for many to vividly remember and guard it.

And when it comes to recreating the authentic look of a 1990s skater, Hill had only one person in mind: costume designer Heidi Bivens. "I hired Heidi three years before we started firing. From very early on I knew who I wanted to make costumes, "says Hill. "Everyone I hired for this movie had a very organic connection to this scene."

Bivens, who had previously worked with demanding directors such as David Lynch and Harmony Korine, already knew the ins and outs of the skateboarding culture. "I really did not have to do a lot of research because I lived it," she says. "Jonah knew that I grew up around him. I was in New York in the mid-90s, not in Los Angeles, where the film is made, but the whole skateboarding community on both coasts was doing similar things in terms of style, so it was not a great way out. " And Bivens does not exaggerate when he says he lived it: at age 18, he appeared as an extra in the 1995 film Children, Larry Clark's harrowing story about troubled teens, set in the rough skating scene in downtown New York.

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Hill also hired Aaron Meza, whose past spans more than 20 years working for iconic skate brands such as Girl and Chocolate and even as editor in chief. Skateboarder Magazine-As skate advisor to the movie. ("An OG in skateboarding," says Hill.) Meza was attentive to everything from the tricks and skating styles to the shoes and t-shirts of each individual character, making sure everything felt true to form. Mikey Alfred, who runs the skating company Illegal Civilization and is a member of the Southern California skating scene, also enlisted to help Hill with the casting of the film.

Anyone who has grown up at a surprising distance from the time will recognize the brands that appear everywhere: Girl, Chocolate, Blind, World Industries, Shorty Clothing, Drops Clothing. But Bivens, Hill and the team were extremely aware of which person carried each mark. When it comes to sneakers, Stevie, the 13-year-old protagonist of the film (played by newcomer Sunny Suljic), wears LA Gear while the older, more experienced, and much more cool skaters wear models like Adidas , Vans and E. When we meet Stevie for the first time, he is wearing children's shirts with cartoon of the 90s as The Ren and Stimpy show in them, you do not skate. This kind of in-the-know details that are scattered throughout Mid 90's. They will not be caught by everyone, but for Hill it was important that the film understood them well.

Hill and Bivens did not look back at the time with pink glasses, but with a magnifying glass. "Every [apparel] The graphics we used were those that existed in the '94 or early '95, "says Bivens, who, by an incredible coincidence, had saved all his skate magazines from 1994 to 1996." Unless I could find a picture in a magazine or online of someone who wore a particular graphic during those years, then we just did not use it. "

Bivens toured vintage stores and contacted his contacts in the world of skateboarding to try to obtain original tees, but in the end he had to recreate many. "Not many people kept their skate files," says Bivens. "I do not think people realized it would be worth it." Explain how they often had to track art files so their department could redo graphics. The support they received from the skating community was overwhelmingly positive: Bivens said he never received a "no" when he requested outside help to reproduce skating articles.

And how did Hill get the cast members, most of whom were born in the 90s, into the right head space for the movie? "I reproduced a lot of pictures of the time," says Hill. "And I took their cell phones."

Alexa Demie, who plays Estee in a particularly memorable party scene, mentions how the distinctive feel of the suit made it easier to enter the character. "Between the costumes, the make-up and the stage design, she put me totally into that world and helped me change the way I spoke and my manners," she says. Na-Kel Smith, who acts as Ray, the group's cold-headed elder, offers a similar opinion: "It was like traveling in time," he says. "Once you're on the set and you really get in tune, I'll almost get lost." The biggest obstacle for Smith, a professional skateboarder in real life? "I definitely had to learn to skate with swollen shoes and big pants. Certain tricks felt totally different. It took a little time to get used to it. "

When watching the film, it is difficult not to notice the number of 90s motifs that have become fashionable again. The tight jeans have given way to loose baggy pants. The most sought-after sneakers today are essentially as big and thick as the skate shoes of yesteryear. Graphic t-shirts made by skate brands such as Palace and Supreme continue to rise in popularity. "I remember driving through Los Angeles when we were filming and half the corner looked like they were in our movie, right after the 90s," says Bivens.

But the way skaters approach today's style is drastically different from what it was 20 or 30 years ago. Apart from outliers such as Mark Gonzalez and Jason Dill, the style of the average skater in the 1990s was designed to disappear in the background, not to excel. "People care a lot about style now, and a lot of people care to excel," says Smith, who will also participate in Supreme's next video, "Blessed", by long-time collaborator William Strobeck. "The expression is key. All the tricks have been done. It's not about what you do, it's about how you do it. As you take.

When I ask Hill when he began to imagine the visual texture of the film (the shirts that the skaters wear, the posters on the walls, the worn sneakers) he tells me that those details and the story are inseparable. "Emotions in history and people come first, but if you are the writer and director, you are imagining the world in as much detail as you are writing," he says. "You really can not separate anything from that, all the posters and t-shirts are written on the film."

The clothes of our youth often stay with us, and it is clear that Hill has stayed with him. Hill, now in his 30s, has become the zeitgeist of fashion by doing nothing more than being himself. Mid 90's highlights the difficult moments of being a teenager, the moment when we were all discovering who we were, overflowing with emotional intensity and wanting to feel separated from something bigger than ourselves. It may not be nostalgia, but the film takes something similarly evocative: baggy jeans and everything.

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