Superbad costume designer talks working with Emma Stone in her first major role

Published May 7, 2018

IMAGE COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES

Clothes on Film is a series in which we explore iconic looks from film and television that have stayed in our minds years after they first hit the silver screen.

We all know and tirelessly quote Superbad [2007]: The film that comically captured the fears that come from graduating high school and getting ready to go off to college. Two best friends—Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera)—embark on a mission to end senior year with a bang and throw an epic party complete with sex, drugs, and, well, whatever we were listening to in 2007. Their plans get derailed, however, when they try to acquire alcohol for the party at the request of their hot ginger classmate, Jules (Emma Stone).

While all of these actors are now household names, Superbad was the springboard that launched their careers. We asked the film’s costume designer Debra McGuire to share what it was like to work with the cast and where her inspiration for their wardrobes stemmed from.

DEBRA McGUIRE: I’m not really motivated by fashion. I’m much more interested in [film], even though I’d been a fashion designer before I started with costume design. It’s a very different world. So, we’re dealing with characters. The most important thing is to be able to convey a story that’s intended by both the writer and director. So, we don’t work independently. Part of why I was interested in moving into film and television from being a studio artist is because I like the collaborative process after being in a studio alone after so many years. That’s where my head’s at, that’s the best place to start. And it was really obvious after reading the script that we were creating these iconic characters. Everything just needed to feel really real. So, that was the most important piece, and I think this was one of the first things that Emma had ever done.

She was just so precious, and I actually worked with her right after that. She was just so game for anything and so open and excited, and the only thing I could say is the costumes are really reality-based. It wasn’t like I was trying to put my finger on the pulse of fashion, I was just trying to create something in the world that they are inhabiting, that they looked as real as was possible.