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Dickinson Hair and Makeup Team Discusses Fusing Research with Modern Twists

May 25, 2021 08:30 | By
Dickinson

Hailee Steinfeld in Dickinson

At first glance, Apple TV+‘s  Dickinson looks like a period drama from the 1850s featuring the lovelorn poet Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) and her near-miss adventures with requited love and becoming famous. But watch closely through the 10 episodes in Season 2 and you’ll see a much more interesting modern mash-up featuring hairstyles such as Elvis Presley-inspired pompadours and bushy eyebrows that would rival those of model Brooke Shields circa the 1980s.

These contemporary meets historic looks are created by Makeup Department Head  Ande Yung,  whose credits include Ugly Betty, Difficult People, and Hair Department Head Suzy Mazzarese-Allison, who was nominated for an Emmy in 2016 for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series for The Knick, as well as a Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards nomination in 2015 for the best contemporary hairstyle for St. Vincent with Bill Murray.

Yung became introduced to the art of make-up through a creative upbringing in New Jersey, while Californian Mazzarese-Allison began her career styling hair for the Broadway stage after making her way to the east coast. Though they grew up miles apart, their sensibilities meshed working with some of the biggest stars in film and television. In fact, Mazzarese-Allison is about to start work on Impeachment as a personal hairstylist to Clive Owen portraying former president, Bill Clinton.

Below The Line spoke with Yung and Mazzarese-Allison about their collaboration in creating the looks for Season 2 of Dickinson, and the research they did for the time period that informed their ideas for rock ‘n’ roll locks, frilly falls, and barely-there looking make-up, but didn’t dictate them. They also discuss how the characters in the series and their personalities inspired the make-up and hairstyles; some of which even have their own names.

Below The Line: How would you describe your collaboration and how you created this history meets contemporary mash-up?

Ande Yung

Ande Yung

Ande Yung: I remember when we started Season 1 it was very much up in the air. I don’t think anyone was 100% sure of where it was going. It was a lot of research and then throwing things away. We got rid of preconceived notions but always had that base of research for the period. Even when we started shooting Season 1 we were still figuring it out, like, “Is this it?!” (laughs). When we went into Season 2 we had a much clearer idea of what this mash-up was.

Suzy Mazzarese-Allison: We have a good collaboration with the whole departments of both teams so it works out really well. We do a lot of research before, and then Ande and I chat together for what we think is appropriate for the period and then make it a little more contemporary. We started with what the hair and make-up looked like in that period so you go back into a library and back in time.  You get the overall look from 1850 hairstyles which was basically women with middle parts, very flat on the head with lots of buns and curls which sometimes can be very harsh on the face so that’s when Ande and I come together to make it contemporary. Instead of looking matronly which they can during this period, we soften them up and make them look gorgeous and brought in a little funkiness and hip to it just by breaking lines in her make-up and different lines in my hairstyles.

BTL: Let’s talk about the hairpieces. Is everyone wearing wigs?

Mazzarese-Allison: Almost everybody in the show has some sort of hairpiece or wig except for Hailee, who does not wear any wig; she’s in her own long beautiful hair for that period whether it was in a bun or was down with some texture in it.  Everything (wigs or pieces) is 100% human hair. Everyone has a fall on except for Hailee.  Sue (Ella Hunt) is in a full wig in Season 2. All of the background [actors] are in wigs that I supplied or the production bought. Also, those are Wiz [Khalifa, who plays Death] dreadlocks so he pretty much came ready! Of course, that was not the time period but we moved into the contemporary with him.

BTL: Do you have names for your wigs?

Mazzarese-Allison: I would call Austin (Adrian Blake Enscoe) “Rock Star,” “Hollywood,” or something like that. With the girls, I didn’t get too carried away but they had names I didn’t know about! In the theater in the past, I did a lot of Broadway, 25 shows, and I would have names for them. But when you move into television and motion picture it’s a little different atmosphere and not as theatrical so you keep it more low-key so you don’t make someone uncomfortable. I do have one name, “Rosey,” which was inspired by me!

Adrian Blake Enscoe as Austin Dickinson in Dickinson

Adrian Blake Enscoe as Austin Dickinson in Dickinson

BTL: What would you say is the most prominent make-up look?

Yung: They did have grooming for eyebrows back in the day but we just really wanted to keep that natural feel with bushy eyebrows. We wanted to lower some of those arches so we have some actors who have microbladed (type of tattooing) eyebrows that we just had to fill in a little bit to get rid of that hombre eyebrow to really soften those edges. It’s sharp and it’s great for Instagram but for a period TV series it wasn’t what we were looking for. Sometimes we had to go in there and work it a little bit so it’s a little more natural-looking. We got lucky with the actresses who are in their twenties so they have those beautiful full brows so why would I want to mess with that. So we just went with it and where we had to we filled in (the brows).

BTL: In Season 2, Hailee has her own personal make-up artist, Christopher Milone. How do you work together?

Yung: I want to make sure everyone is getting exactly what they need in terms of their look. The unfortunate part of being a department head is that you have a lot of administrative things to attend to that pull you away from set and dealing with your actors. I called in Chris Milone for the second season to be with Hailee, and they just hit it off. Chris and I collaborate very well which is why I brought him in. We discuss everything ahead of time at production meetings so it’s very easy.

Suzy Mazzarese-Allison

Suzy Mazzarese-Allison

BTL:  How much do the characters inform what their hair and make-up should look like? It almost looks like Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson isn’t wearing any make-up.

Yung: Oh, she definitely is! That’s the trick. Everyone is wearing a full face of make-up, but it’s subtle and it’s sheer and reminiscent of what they would’ve had back in the day. With Hailee’s character, she runs around and she doesn’t listen and she’s out and about which a lot of people wouldn’t do back in the day if you were a popular woman so she has a little bit of flush to her cheeks. Anna (Baryshnikov who plays her sister Lavinia) would’ve been cheating a little bit and is fun and so she’s got a little bit of cheek, a little bit of lip, and mascara.

Mazzarese-Allison: We kind of create their hairstyles around their characters’ personalities. Hailee’s character was much more natural and she is playing Emily Dickinson who had that low bun, which she is mostly in. When she goes to parties it’s a little bit more fancier or her hair is down. Lavinia, who is a kooky character, I wanted to put her in something that would move so she’s got the period curls, and when she dances the curls go back and forth. In Season 1, Sue was much more depressed and refined so she had a simple bun but, in Season 2, we created her hair like she was at a salon with a beautiful hairdo, especially for the opera scenes.

Wiz Khalifa

Wiz Khalifa as Death

BTL: Describe what inspired the hairstyles for the men. Pico Alexander who plays Henry “Ship” Shipley looks like Elvis.

Mazzarese-Allison: Actually the men in that time period had that big hair. All the principals grew out their hair long. So, for each one, I modernized it so he had more of an Elvis pompadour type thing. Whereas Adrian who plays Austin has more of a side part with a big flip which they wore back then which I enhanced to make it look a little bit more rock ‘n’ roll, more Williamsburg-ish of the time with long hair. We just stylized the period a bit more.

BTL: What make-up and hair design for an episode were you most proud of that you created?

Mazzarese-Allison: The opera La Traviata was just so special because we got to really overdo things a little bit. Everybody got a real “do” and it just looked like a piece of a painting when that curtain opened. [Episode 6 (“Split the Lark”)] was definitely my favorite episode artistically. I had a great time with Emmy-award-winning hairdressers doing background, and I was very proud of it. We tried to match the Soprano’s hair to Sue’s with a little bit more of a theatrical look which was bigger and bolder.

Jung: La Traviata is my favorite opera and they kept playing it over and over during the scenes which I loved. We had about 70 pieces of facial hair out and we had some artists to hand laid the pieces so we could use them for the next day because the opera scene was a week long of shooting. Where the wig stops make-up takes over with the sideburns and the beard and the facial hair so it has to be cohesive. That’s how I would say make-up and hair have to be a team effort.

Both seasons of Dickinson can be found on AppleTV+. All images are courtesy of Apple.