Netflix’s summer has been marked by visually-stunning hits, first with the surprise smash Stranger Things earlier in the summer, and now with Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down, an ode to the Bronx in the 1970s.
Just like Stranger Things before it, The Get Down is a 20th-century period piece that hinges, in no small, part on its era of origin. The show, which follows ambitious teenage poet Zeke Figuero (Justice Smith), the powerhouse singer/object of his affection Mylene Cruz (Herizen F. Guardiola), and new friend Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore), combines history with classic teen exuberance.
But this is a Luhrmann joint, people, so we also have to talk about the looks. The costumes in The Get Down, expertly curated by veteran designer Jeriana San Juan in partnership with Catherine Martin, another storied designer (and Luhrmann’s wife), make the story a visual feast. Here’s San Juan’s take on the street and dance floor styles of the time.
The Good Boy Look
The show’s protagonist is an ingénue with a ton of talent and confidence, whose potential is only hampered by opportunity. Placing him in the ‘70s Bronx, Zeke is dressed to the nines in a low-cost, high-payoff look in polos, and a carefully groomed ‘fro worthy of any disco floor.
The Bad Boy Look
The deftly named Shaolin Fantastic (note to self: make this my new band name) is peak ‘70s Bronx swag, and his leather, buttoned get-ups never disappoint. More so than his fellow characters, Shaolin’s look embodies what San Juan told Vogue she feels is the true energy of the show.
“[It’s] what this whole show is about—this big bang in culture,” the designer said. “You not only have the music being created and becoming iconic, but you have the art form of graffiti being formed, you have the dancing—b-boying and breakdancing becoming this new thing—and then you have the fashion. The fashion is such a big part of that movement that identifies hip-hop.
If you need further evidence that Shaolin’s wardrobe is the best on the show, look at his sneakers in any damn scene.
The Good Girl Look
The Get Down lends itself to a pretty comprehensive view of outfits from the period, because the main characters are seen both in streetwear and in their sexpot best on a regular basis. While many of the show’s scenes feature the talented Mylene performing in show-ready looks, perhaps even more subtle is the average teenager style she and her friends strike the the streets. Denim, floral patterns and jewel tones were the rule of the day, complimenting good boy Zeke’s school uniform-ready look and reminding viewers that sure, Mylene’s a killer singer, but she’s also just a regular kid.
The Bad Girl Look
According to Elle, San Juan worked with the archives of venerable companies like Halston, Gucci and Diane von Furstenberg to get the best looks on the dance floor and make Zeke and Mylene’s burgeoning romance look as great as it felt. One of the most memorable outfits of the entire series makes its debut in the via Mylene on the dance floor after peeling off a far less revealing church robe, modeled almost stitch-for-stitch from a Halston design from the era.
“Taking off that robe and revealing that very sexy dress, it was really the greatest impact,” San Juan told Vogue. “It was also important to see her classically as well — that’s where the cream-color palette came from.”
The Get Down is a teen love story wrapped in a period piece wrapped in a costumed wonder rivaling the laser-precision style and detail of Mad Men. After Stranger Things inspired us to drag the khaki jacket from Mom’s closet, The Get Down reminds us that clean-cut can be just as cool with the right attitude.
Photos via illustration by Jamie Loftus