The High Note Movie

How Costume Designer Jenny Eagan Crafted a Music Biz Look for ‘The High Note’

Director Nisha Ganatra’s “The High Note” takes place in L.A.’s glamorous music scene. Tracee Ellis Ross plays superstar diva Grace Davis. Grace, a music veteran, whose everyday wardrobe features dynamic silhouettes including broad shoulders and dramatic puff sleeves. Grace plays the quintessential "powerful woman" in the music industry, who is also the ultimate power dresser.

Costume Designer Jenny Eagan is tasked with dressing Tracee Ellis Ross’ character in this story of an aging star, Grace Davis. Grace’s style is aspirational. She is a woman in control and her clothing reflects that. Her wardrobe screams she can walk onto any red carpet and own the room.

In contrast to Grace's high-power style, Maggie (played by Dakota Johnson) is a young and upcoming music producer from the Midwest. Dakota’s everyday look is more relaxed, featuring denim and bomber jackets, graphic tees and sneakers.

Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is her overextended assistant who has little time for herself and is not in high-fashion like her gold-lamé loving boss. A natural introvert, it is clear that Maggie is happier behind-the-scenes. She is all about the music like her DJ dad. For Maggie, the love of music is not about the glitz and glamour of stage performing or the challenge of sustaining a celebrity profile.

The film juxtaposes the two styles throughout, highlighting the clash between the old and the new guard in the music industry. At one point, Maggie tries to give Grace a music makeover, but the results are disastrous. Grace Davis is not interested in following trends or changing her style to appeal to a new audience.

Constantly on call as Grace's assistant, Maggie's wardrobe is practical, affordable and flexible. For example, her Margot hoops by Bonheur seen throughout the film are $58, lightweight and ultra-versatile. Unlike Grace, she does not have time to shop for 150 pairs of shoes. To her, work is the most important thing and pursuing her ambitions of becoming a music producer in a tough, mostly male industry. Runway fashion must take a backseat. Maggie even looks shell-shocked when she discovers the price of Grace's "$3,000 Saint Laurent" jacket.

The re-wearing and styling of pieces reflects Maggie's realistic budget. Maggie's fashion range includes perfectly fitting vintage Levi's, authentic throwback concert tees (Crosby Stills & Nash) and her everyday essential Margot hoops by Bonheur. 


Dakota Johnson Movies
Dakota Johnson Movies


Grace Davis is at the transition point of her decades long career: Should she rest on her past glories with previous hits and take a prestigious Las Vegas residency (as her management pushes her to do) or take a chance and write new original music that could flop (as Maggie urges her to do)?

No spoilers, but a common love of music brings Maggie (Dakota Johnson) and Grace (Tracee Ellis Ross) together. They find common ground as their influence on each other comes full circle through the fusion of their distinct styles.