Images courtesy of Hulu.
As told to Sara Klausing 10-18-22
joined the long-awaited Ramy Season 3 just in time for the protagonist's sartorial evolution.
It has been two years since the previous installment, where costume designer Dana Covarrubias established the original cast. This includes the series' titular character: the son of Egyptian immigrants living in New Jersey who navigates his way through his Muslim community, friends, and budding career as a jeweler.
In season three, costume designer Nicky Smith helps transition Ramy's signature styles (with no shortage of relaxed hoodies in sight) to something close, but slightly more elevated thanks to emerging brands like Kapital and Nanushka. Most importantly, Ramy's sartorial journey aligns with what serves his character and storyline.
With excellent writing, an insane cast (leads include Ramy Youssef and Hiam Abbass with cameos from superstar Majid Jordan, And Just Like That's Saritz Choudhury, and Mo's Mohammed Amer), and a steady drumbeat of plot twists and surprises, Ramy Season 3 tackles a wide range of culturally significant themes.
It was a priority to Smith to authentically show up for the diverse range of communities represented on screen. Smith talks to Seek about season three's sartorial highlights: Ramy's personal style journey, establishing new character Lena (played by Bella Hadid), modern Muslim dressing and hijab collaborations with Nuura Collection, and the gift of actors bringing their own cultures and stories to wardrobe.
Costume Designer Nicky Smith: In the beginning of Ramy Season 3, we took a little bit of the more casual street style that was established in season one and two.
There were hoodies with a puffer jacket, a Nanushka jacket with a really great textured hoodie. And the New York Mets hat that we had custom made.
All of that feels like a connection to the previous seasons.
Because we had all the scripts, Ramy and I tracked the progression of where he was going to go over the season so that at the end, we knew what that disassembled, falling apart look was – which is why we planted it at the beginning.
We wanted to elevate him so that around episode four (when we hit the Muslim conference) we have a very certain look that feels close to, but different.
I thought, why don't we bringing a really great wool overcoat that's not something we've seen on you and we can do something similar with your dad. There's little moments where both he and Farouk have a similar style of overcoat, which you don't see on other characters in the show.
And I really want to make sure to incorporate turtlenecks, it just adds a little bit of elevation. It's simple, but we were mindful of putting things together and styling them so it feels nuanced and cool.
Seek: We just love his whole vibe! That's how we wanna dress this fall.
Smith: That's what a couple of my girlfriends have been saying! That touches my heart because the styling really is non-gender.
It's just about what looks good on a body and realizing that style crosses all gender, all religions.
Seek: Given that Ramy is this entrepreneur coming out of the Diamond District, jewelry is critical to the storyline.
It was these cool guys talking about jewelry and fashion in a way that just felt approachable and engaging. We were talking about bevel size, cut, clarity.
They're so smart and they're so good at what they do. We ended up getting him a really great signet ring that he wears throughout the show.
Smith: I started the conversation with Bella (Hadid) over Zoom.
We talked about her character and I showed her the mood boards. We discussed the inspiration of Pam Beasley: it's not a copy, it's an inspiration.
How could we create a silhouette that feels very much of the world of who this woman is?
I told her we were going to use sheer black Wolford pantyhose. She was very down for whatever worked best for the character.
I really enjoyed working with Bella. She was always happy to be there.
I think that extends from Ramy – he writes these characters that are interesting and engaging and actors come into it excited to be a part of the world.
Smith: My favorite moment would have to be the conference. It gave us an opportunity to showcase different types of Muslim people and different aspects of the culture. We had different types of people and different ages.
There was a beautiful array of what Muslim culture is in America.
On top of that, we had the really great performance of the Halal Brothers with Majid Jordan and Abu Bakar Miller played by James Dale. The energy that you see on camera is really how it felt.
We did a custom jacket in collaboration with the art department. Our graphic designer is Muslim also, and her work is about uplifting her community through art.
Seek: Let's get into your thoughtful collaboration with Seattle-based, female-owned Nuura Collection.
Smith: I myself am first generation American. I'm a minority.
Whenever I'm telling a story that centers around a specific community, I reach out to women who are part of that community.
It's really important that as costume designers we are using our platform to showcase brands that people may never have heard of – brands that really identify with who your characters are.
I sent a cold email asking to incorporate some of their pieces into the show. I think the colors and construction are beautiful. They are young women based out of Seattle whose hijabs saved the show.
Almost every woman with a hijab wore Nuura. It made it easier for us to create an authentic look that we could keep in continuity.
Seek: Yasmina (played by Rana Roy) is stunning.
Smith: She's so beautiful and so kind. It was the easiest fitting: everything looked good on her. Everything looks good on everyone.
It was one of the easiest casts to work with. People came in, they brought their culture and they were excited to share.
Smith: I was talking to Amr (Waked), who plays Farouk, about the colors we would want to see in the scene when he and Maysa (played by Hiam Abbass) go to visit their friends.
He mentioned that this blue, purple color is the color of death in Egypt.
He said, "Why wouldn't I wear a tie in that color range? This is me seeing my life is not what I want it to be. I need to do something."
Each actor brought their own knowledge of culture, of color, of presence to the fittings. I feel like my contributions and their contributions can be seen on the screen together. There are just so many thoughtful touches.
Smith: It was the same thing for Sarita Choudhury playing Olivia, who's a sex worker. Amazing, stunning, you just saw her in And Just Like That. She was a goddess.
For Ramy, we talked about what would be appropriate for a sex worker. It's not about lace and luxury. It's about taking your clothes off off quickly. Putting your clothes on quickly.
And then we're also thinking about the practicality of fabrics. It's not going to be chiffon and silk – it's going to be something you can wash. And we talked about those things in a way that felt very thoughtful and present.
Olivia's looks were very sexy New Jersey.
Tight, sexy, stretch pants with laces and cut outs. The over the new boots that she wore, and the faux fur little bomber. My assistant found that jacket, so I'm going to give her her credit for it.
WATCH THE TRAILER
Smith: We took Dena from this unsure young woman to looking like she's so put together. When we find out that she didn't take the bar, she's secretly falling apart.
She's falling in love with some guy that she was not into, sneaking out to this house, doing all this crazy stuff.
It's kind of great to create a juxtaposition of how she wants to be perceived versus how we see her really unfold.
Seek: Dress to impress?
Smith: Dress to be the person you wish your family thinks you are.
Seek: Dena in the pinstripes is iconic.
Smith: That was really fun.
The first fitting we did was actually for Farouk. Amr actually has a background in finance and used to wear suits every day. He tried on his suit and loved it.
We talked about how the family would appear to him. I had my own ideas on their business attire – it would be themselves – but it still has to feel like his dream, his reflection, because he's the titular character in the scene.
Ramy would try to dress up, but would kind of fail. There wouldn't be a tie.
Mesa would have a little bit of a French edge to her. A professional boss lady vibe. We did that beautiful pearl and gold with the really two tone suit.
How would Dena dress if she were a lawyer? She probably wore like these double breast suits with like a great silk blouse and a heel. Our tailor, Matthew, can get down and dirty on a suit.
Seek: We love Steve's style this season! He's got a little bit of a seventies rockstar look. Can you tell us about that, and creating a safe environment on set?
Smith: One of the things we're really mindful of is Covid. It was important to limit how many people were in the fitting with him.
Steve (Way) brought his own community to help support him and get him dressed. It was great seeing these young dudes be down for their friend.
We really wanted to see Steve with a girlfriend, and how it changes who he was before. He's dating this cool girl who likes him. He's the apple of her eye. That changes someone.
We wanted to reflect that in the leather jacket and plaid shirts. In the fitting we decided to cover his neck bags in a fabric that matches what he's wearing.
LORD OF THE BLING
Seek: Did you also make the elven and feline costumes?
Smith: The cat woman is custom built. Shout out to Jules, who's a local artist in New York, craft extraordinaire. We built the base and then she painted all of it.
For Silva, played by Chris Abbott, that is one of the tricks of costume. We rent things from different places, and we built things on top of it. And then what you see is the finished product.
It was a little faux fur here, some leather there. Throw some paint on it.
We had to think about what Silva would wear when he's inside his weird, lofty, low light lair. What would she wear when she's on the couch?
It was a weird conversation. But that's what makes interesting TV.
WITH THANKS TO
I want to give a shout out to the crew. All of these amazing talented people come together and create the thing.
Assistant Costume Designer: Stephanie Levin;
Wardrobe Supervisor: Tamara Cepeda; Costumer: Munee Hayes;
Costumer: Ricardo James;
Costumer: Yasmin Ali;
Tailor: Matthew Neff;
Costume Coordinator: Jeff Horta;
Production Assistant: Romales Acker;
Production Assistant: Renée Voteau.
I would also like to highlight CDG's Naked Without Us & the pay equity fight.
Without costume designers, there are no characters.
Costumes are the character.