If you were able to attend your funeral, what would you wear?
Don’t ask Nadia, the tart heroine of the “Russian Doll” Netflix series, who dies and comes back to life in each of eight seasons, not surviving long enough to consider the question seriously.
In some variation of her rock’ n’ roll tomboy look, a raffish composite of tweed boy coat, black blazer, tie blouse, and skinny jeans she wears every day to her job, chances are Nadia would deck herself out. It’s an all-purpose getup with steel-rimmed shades, an unruly mop of cherry-tone hair, and a cigarette ever-present.
Her look is not a statement of style. But then again, “Russian Doll” is not about fashion, a matter of little interest to fans seeking to shop online the clothing of the series.
Those observing know that her aggressively fashionable friend Maxine (Greta Lee) gives her only minor wardrobe adjustments for her 36th birthday bash. As played by Natasha Lyonne, who wrote show alongside Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland, Nadia is a routine character that has little to do with changing her regular practical appearance.
Nevertheless, it is not easy for her decisions. The episode, an atmospheric fusion of “Sliding Doors” and “Groundhog Day,” flirting with the idea of alternative universes, stars Nadia as a software developer who dodges any sartorial cliché in Silicon Valley.
“We needed her to abandon ‘ Mr ‘ fashion. The robot, ‘ the notion that every programmer wears a hoodie,” said Jenn Rogien, the resourceful costume designer of the series who also designed “Girls” and “Orange Is the New Black” cast.
“We needed to feel cool and interesting about these characters,” Ms. Rogien said. “But in an extraordinary circumstance, we also needed them to feel like real people trapped.”
To that end, she said stereotypes in favor of individualized costumes meant to represent the full spectrum of Lower East Siders, mash-up of artists, musicians, and outliers. Who once lent their excess color to the neighborhood, as well as the ambitious newbies who come to shop, dine, party, and pose.
“It is important to me that these people are not acting as caricatures, that their clothing is not masked,” said Ms. Rogien. She stated her credo in paraphrasing Diane Arbus: “The more specific you can be to tell the story, the more realistic it is, and more universal it becomes.”
She applied this principle to the cast, somberly outfitting most of the characters, their costumes rendered mainly in black, gray, and sludge tones. The purpose of this deliberately muted esthetic was to underline the darkly comic and unsettling themes of the show. “It represents a somewhat off-tilt climate,” she said.
From production, all tones of blue and green struck, Ms. Rogien said. “Blue, in particular, refers to a calm and peacefulness that is not present in ‘Russian Doll.'”
There are startling departures, however, demonstrated by both the decoration and the clothes. Tompkins Square Park filmed in a warm, amber light, where swaths of activity take place. Nadia, if after her party she’s already running in the morning, sporting a scarlet blouse. The occasional color interference, Ms. Rogien explained, “posts in an icy world the impression of a peculiar heat.”
Maxine’s friend of Nadia breaks the form as well. Tending the bar and interacting with friends, she is casual in a shimmering green sea-foam dress, silver chain jacket, and diamond fabrics. Her character is “a mixed media fashion collage with a side of chicken,” as Ms. Rogien irreverently posted on her Instagram feed.
Alan (Charlie Barnett) is more self-effacing than Nadia and has Nadias ‘ penchant for failing over and over again. A pretty convincing preppy mask is his nondescript button-down shirt, Shetland wool jumper, and windbreaker.
He’s all but invisible alongside self-styled mavericks like Lizzy (Rebecca Henderson), an art handler who loves vintage fighting boots and carpenter’s overalls that match her white-blond hair thatch.
Ruth (Elizabeth Ashley), a psychologist and adoptive mother of Nadia, has a penchant for wide-leg pants, platform ankle shoes, and fancy heirloom rings stacks. She is “always professional, still on the spot,” Ms. Rogien wrote on Instagram, “save the drama for the clothing.”
Ruth is part of a high-low ratio, like many New Yorkers. In one example, she wears Marni, Zara, Rachel Roy, and Ugg’s tangy cocktail. It’s a mix that’s accessible and highly covetable, to judge from the feed of Ms. Rogien.
“I was amazed at how many DMs came with questions about where things came from,” said Ms. Rogien. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
The personal shopper and costume designer, Emily Winokur, had to know, “What is the red blouse brand? (It’s H&M.) The photographer Magda Magdalena Jakubik had one urgent question:” Bra?
Unfortunately, when the show was in development from outlets like Forever 21, Dries Van Noten, Banana Republic and Levi’s, Ms. Rogien and her staff tracked down the clothes and accessories about a year later. No sense, then, to scour her Insta for fabulous findings. It doesn’t matter. “My great hope,” she said, ” that these comments will inspire people in their own lives to be more adventurous.”