A lot of Amanda Needham’s job involves running around town. She’ll shop for polar fleeces, cowboy hats and clown props. She schleps armloads of clothes to the dry cleaners. She visits shoot locations. She meets with clients for coffee.
And then she runs home to take care of her baby girl, Nova.
Costume designer Amanda Needham outside the store Frances May on Portland’s SW Washington Street.
The busy two-time Emmy-winning costume designer has to know her city well, and how to dress comfortably to get along in it. She works on IFC’s Portlandia, a sketch comedy show with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein about Portland and its eccentric citizens. She lives there for most of the year. The other forty percent of the time, Needham is in LA working on Baskets, Zach Galifianakis’s show about a Paris-trained clown trying to make it in Bakersfield, California, where he works as a rodeo clown. It’s a black comedy about dreams half met–or trampled.
We met Amanda in Portland, where she took us around to her favorite spots–to shop, to eat, to get things done–and showed us how she dresses for her hectic days. Needham has an ability to mix fun and function in her outfits–perhaps it’s a result of the intention that must inform her clothing selections for comedy characters. The key to her look is fashionable, durable and element-proof shoes by (Portland’s own) SOREL–just watch how she styles them.
Read on to hear about Portland’s hotspots, the evolving PNW style that Amanda cultivates in life and art, and pursuing your dreams in an ideal outfit.
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WATCH: Vinyl on HBO
Brought to you by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter, Vinyl profiles a pivotal period in music history, the 1970s. Set in New York City, this new HBO series stars Bobby Cannavale as a record producer during the era that saw the birth of hip-hop, punk and disco. Olivia Wilde costars.
The Circus on Showtime
As if it weren’t entertaining enough, the 2016 election gets the documentary treatment. Watch the candidates for more than just a soundbite or debate. The camera follows all the presidential contenders on the campaign trail and behind the scenes into the sphere where the camera rarely treads.
HEAR: Livin’ on a High Note by Mavis Staples
Living legend and soul pioneer Mavis Staples has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity in recent years, even performing on the youthful festival circuit. With her latest release, Ms. Staples taps the talent of musicians Nick Cave, M. Ward, Neko Case, Justin Vernon and Benjamin Booker for what sounds like a celebratory lap on an already astounding musical career.
Mowing by Michael Nau
These mellifluous grooves defy the pop, folk and indie genres. Really, Mowing is more of a lounge album, thoughtful and relaxing, chill but never ambient. Nau lays down goading and encouraging lyrics on “Smooth Aisles.” “Your Jewel” skips along on a reggae beat. And “In There” furthers Nau’s philosophical inquiry with kind advice set to a bluesy guitar.
Listen: Aquaria by Boots
He produced an impressive amount of Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled album. He collaborates with genre-pushing artists like Run the Jewels and FKA Twigs. Yet this is Jordy Asher‘s debut. Uneven as it is, Aquaria shows the breadth of his producing talents within the confines of driving electro-pop, occasionally even charting new yet vague musical waters.
The Miraculous by Anna von Hausswolff
Von Hausswolff’s bittersweet vocals over a 9,000-pipe organ may be the perfect melancholy music for winter. But this Swedish chanteuse is no canary: her voice cuts and wails as it sings lyrics derived from folk stories. Picture Neko Case set to Swedish death metal. Songs like “Evocation” at once render sacred and profane.
Watch: Marvel’s Jessica Jones
Netflix’s newest series (out November 20) features a traumatized former superhero struggling to pay her rent and bar tab. Long ago Marvel realized that every hero was also an antihero, and Jessica Jones (played brilliantly broken by Krysten Ritter) is a troubled antiheroine for a leather-clad, sardonic generation of malcontents just struggling to get by and live with themselves.
Shop: Shrimps online
We’ve already told you how warm and fuzzy Hannah Weiland’s faux-fur creations make us feel. Finally, you can shop several of her technicolor coats and accessories online! It’s like Scream Queens suddenly went from all prissy to punk.
Opening Ceremony caps
These embroidered hats are so cute that we want to embroider them on a cap. If you haven’t visited our Pop-In Shop lately, you may have missed these baseball caps embellished with poodles, drumsticks, aliens and other idiosyncratic ideograms. Your gift-giving hat trick is right here.
Read: What the Eye Hears by Brian Seibert
Tracing the history of tap from Irish cloggers and African slaves, Seibert shows how this dance defines American pop culture, covering Bojangles and Shirley Temple to the MacArthur Genius Michelle Dorrance, without leaving out its complicated, cloudy history.
See: Dior and I
Late last month, Raf Simons, the creative director and designer of the storied French couture house Dior, announced that he would be vacating his position following the Spring 2016 show in Paris. This documentary (new to Netflix on November 14) observes the designer in 2011, during his first season at the legendary label. Simons has since denounced the speed at which fashion flies. Dior and I takes viewers along at that captivating clip while Simons devises his beautiful designs.
Hear: Glamorous Damage by GUM
Tame Impala drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jay “Gumby” Watson released Glamorous Damage, the first album of his solo project GUM this week. Driving synth, falsetto vocals and laser effects support ambient songs (reminiscent, at times, of Air) that coexist in the future and groovy past of psych-pop rock.
Shop: NARS Fantascene holiday collection with photographer Steven Klein
A collaboration between the photogenic makeup line and the famous documenter of stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga rightly yielded a Pop palette that places wearers at centerstage this season.
Read: Hotels of North America by Rick Moody
The author’s latest novel (released on Tuesday) shows him to again have a finger on the pulse of American life and its deceptions, using the protagonist’s online hotel reviews as both a medium for storytelling and a critique of our everybody-is-a-critic culture.
Watch: W/ Bob & David
The ’90s sketch comedy veterans of Mr. Show, Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) and David Cross (Arrested Development), return to the genre that launched their careers as dark, zany comic geniuses. Enjoy four episodes of their intellectual buddy humor all grown up on Netflix starting this Friday.
Shop: Nike Jordan Eclipse Holiday Sneaker
The street sneaker to end all street sneakers has arrived just in time to wear it to all the season’s parties. Riffing on the basketball style of the original Jordan, this sneak has a relaxed, almost moccasin, silhouette that makes it super casual but still snazzy.
Images courtesy IFC
Every Documentary Now! episode on IFC begins with Helen Mirren’s dead-serious introduction about the educational film you are about to see–and then embarks on a bait-and-switch journey into mockumentary that is consistently weird and hilarious. This is the funny new show you should watch this fall, the brainchild of SNL alumni Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and producer Seth Meyers.
Attention to detail is crucial in this form of comedy, and a good chunk of the program’s perfect pitch comes from costume designer Marylou Lim.
We talked to Lim about dressing Armisen and Hader as they used their fake-documentary style to rip into Grey Gardens, the Vice media network, soft rock icons the Eagles–and other subjects that wouldn’t have occurred to anyone else, like a fictional parade in Iceland dedicated to an exotic notion of Al Capone.
We’re looking forward to more of this inspired joking and more outfits from Lim. Documentary Now! just got picked up for two more seasons on IFC.
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L-R: “Lance’s mom” (Gretchen Corbett), “Lance’s mom’s boyfriend” (Justin Long), “Lance” (Carrie Brownstein) and “Nina” (Fred Armisen); image courtesy Portlandia from “The Fiancée” episode
As a business which started in the #upperleft corner of these United States, we at Nordstrom have a special appreciation for IFC’s Portlandia. That would be the sketch comedy TV show where stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein basically teach a master class in how to mock life in Portland, OR. It’s all there: the passive-aggressiveness, the self-righteous savior complex, the questionable style choices. And yet the show, currently in its fifth season, is a love-letter.
“The Fiancée” episode aired Thursday, Jan. 15, and was partially filmed at the Lloyd Center Nordstrom. (That location is now closed, with every employee who wished to be relocated given a new home at a nearby Nordstrom). Key scenes in the episode occur at Nordstrom and feature Armisen’s character Nina, whose make-up is done by Jessica Needham and whose overall style is created by her sister, two-time Emmy-winner Amanda Needham.
We spoke with the sisters while the two native Portlanders sat in their car in deadlocked traffic. Topics discussed: Nina, Portlandia and good versus bad style.
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