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. Obviously, a music veteran, Grace's looks feature classic 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.
Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is her overextended assistant who has little time for herself, is not in high-fashion like her gold-lamé loving boss. An introvert, it is clear that Maggie is happier behind-the-scenes. She is all about the music like her DJ dad. For Maggie, it's not about the glitz and glamour of stage performing or the challenge of sustaining a celebrity profile.
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.
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 and Grace together. They find common ground as their influence on each other comes full circle through the fusion of their distinct styles.