The Magic of Fashion in Film: Creating Tammy Faye’s Over The Top Attire

If you haven’t seen The Eyes of Tammy Faye on HBO Max, you should! We could go on for days about the movie and all of its over-the-top gaudy glory! The film is based on the life of Tammy Faye Messner between the 1950s and the 1990s, which covers her childhood, her and her husband Jim Bakker’s humble beginnings at a Christian college, their rise to fame, and their creation of the largest Christian broadcasting network.

Of course, The Eyes of Tammy Faye isn’t without scandal, including some questionable financial choices. And it simply can’t be a movie about Tammy Faye without featuring her garish fashion choices and a full face of makeup (and eyelashes). We imagine it would be difficult to dress such a colorful person without getting cartoony, but costume designer Mitchell Travers and Tammy portrayer Jessica Chastain approached this quest the only way we think Tammy would have wanted: with love.

(image via vogue via searchlight pictures)

In an interview with Variety, Travers talked about how he approached each ensemble throughout the film: He studied books, interviews, and documentaries, all so he could “understand her and the way she saw herself.” He also discussed the scene when Tammy dons a green wool jumper with a hot pink silk blouse underneath (one of our favorite fashion moments). This is the first time Tammy is really seeing herself as “somebody,” and what seemed like a bizarre combination wasn’t odd to her. “That was the recipe for success when you’re trying to find Tammy,” he said.

(image via deadline via searchlight pictures)

In an interview with Vulture, Travers talked more about his use of color throughout the film. For example, he explained that since the film was called The Eyes of Tammy Faye, he wanted all aspects to be seen from her point of view. You’ll notice that when things are going well for Tammy, we see more colorful outfits in green, pink, blue, and leopard print. As the empire starts to crumble, Travers used what he described as an “aggravated” color palette featuring colors such as crimson red, cobalt blue, and black.

To find just the right pieces that were both true to the time period and Tammy, Travers looked into collections from high-end designers, online retailers, and estate sales. He wanted to ensure he conveyed to viewers that Tammy was a “full look” kind of girl; her ensembles never lacked a single detail. This meant that Travers had to work harmoniously with the artists behind the prosthetics, makeup, and hair. He recounted a number of moments where seemingly small details came together in a big way, such as finding a pristine package of unopened press-on nails from the 1970s. “There were a few of those [lucky] moments,” he said. “I felt like [Tammy] was looking out for me, [making] sure that we got her looking the way she should.”

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Have you seen The Eyes of Tammy Faye? What was your favorite fashion moment? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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