On My Vanity: Dana Covarrubias
Introducing Linger Magazine’s “On My Vanity” series; today, we chat with costume designer Dana Covarrubias, whose work on Hulu’s murder mystery series “Only Murders in the Building,” starring Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short, trended wildly this year when stills of Gomez on set, clad in a perfect-for-fall, teddy bear coat and a crisp pair of white docs dropped on the Internet.
With a long list of work designing for acclaimed New York based shows -- “Ramy,” “Master of None,” and “Louie,” Covarrubias captures that New York sensibility once more and shares how she came upon her career, the inspiration behind the show’s stylings, and the must-have products that sit upon her vanity.
A graduate of Fordham University’s Theatre program, Covarrubias initially started out on stage. Since middle school, she performed in school plays while also helping out in the costume department. “What I loved about performing was the research and the psychological part of it, and the actual being in front of people thing, I didn’t love [laughter],” said Covarrubias. And when a friend asked the designer to help with costumes for her play, that’s when it all clicked. “I loved it so, so much, and I actually loved it more than performing.”
Her degree in Performance Arts came in handy when it came to creating the looks for the show where each character’s backstory became embedded into their style. Along with influences from old Hollywood classics like “Rear Window” and the original Hardy Boys covers referenced throughout the series, Covarrubias scoured vintage shops, designer consignment sites, landmarks, wherever the research took her.
When she hit a stump, which was the small challenge of designing for a figure as recognizable as Gomez, the designer had to figure out how to pare down a superstar, and it was a dance between balance and relatability. “We really wanted to make sure she felt like her character,” said Covarrubias. “That was one of the first things before anything else.”
Gomez plays Mabel, a savvy on-the-go New Yorker. She’s clad in pops of color, gold accessories, and sensible footwear -- doc martens, classic black booties, rain boots, etc. (a must for a New Yorker, shares Covarrubias. “In New York, you’re walking, walking, walking, so really, it starts from the feet up.”) From reds to yellow, and shades in between, the brightly colored hues and their influence surprisingly came from actress Kathryn Hahn (“Wanda Vision”), who the designer worked with previously on “Mrs. Fletcher.” When production wrapped on the show, the actress gifted Covarrubias with a book on flowers and their symbolism.
“One that really jumped out to me was the Marigold,” said Covarrubias, who like Gomez, is of half Mexican descent. “It has a lot of symbolism in Mexican culture -- it symbolizes grief, resurrection, but also symbolizes creativity and passion.” It also mirrored what Gomez’s character Mabel was going through on the show. The hues of the flower -- the yellow, oranges and reds became the main color palette for the popstar.
For Martin, who plays Charles-Haden Savage, a semi-retired actor from an 80s hit detective TV show, the blues found in stills of “Rear Window,” largely inspired Martin’s wardrobe. “We were looking at a lot of different references towards the mystery world and Hitchcock was definitely one of those that we looked at in terms of inspiring us with the mystery of the show.”
For Short, who plays Oliver Putnam, a financially troubled Broadway director, purple velvet seats of an old theater inspired the palette for the actor. Vintage designer pieces from the 90s and 2000s also made their way into the closet as it was perhaps a time where the director did have the means to splurge on some designer wear. “It didn’t feel wrong to put him in some silk or velvet,” added Covarrubias. “The trick with him was balance, just constantly making sure it felt real and not too carefree.”
With a knack for capturing that chic on-the-go New York style, Covarrubias grounded each wardrobe to fit a New Yorker’s active lifestyle. “I think that a New Yorker’s closet is very diverse and it’s layered; it’s a huge part of our fashion culture.”
But not to lose a sense of creativity and play, Covarrubias made sure to have a bit of fun as well. “We definitely play around with what the truth is of what people wear,” said Covarrubias. “And sometimes we go a little sexier.”
Here are the top 5 products on costume designer Covarrubias’ vanity she shares with Linger Magazine:
“As I get older, I noticed when you get acne, it leads to a dark spot afterwards. It takes so much longer to heal. I was looking for something to clear up dark spots and I stumbled upon this product -- it has the same technology as an ink-jet printer! You put serum inside of the wand, which is a skin tone color and available in three different colors. The serum has a bit of coverage and is also dark spot correcting. You hold the wand over any spots you have -- a dark spot, a freckle, or a new type of acne that has just popped up -- and it literally disappears. It's very light coverage. What it’s doing is putting a tiniest amount of light foundation, plus the serum that corrects the spot as well. It’s life changing. It’s expensive but I think it's very worth it.
I’ll use it in the morning. I really don’t like to wear foundation because I feel it’s too cloggy on my pores and too heavy, so this is a way to cover my little spots, use a little concealer, mascara and that’s kind of it.”
Grown Alchemist Geranium, Bergamot, Rose Facial Cleanser
“It’s a great all purpose facial cleanser. I have super combination skin and this cleanser is not too drying or stripping. It doesn’t feel heavy at all. It has a nice strong herbal scent and is a really light gel.”
Iles Formula Shampoo & Conditioner
“I’m naturally a brunette but I recently dyed my hair blonde. I bleached my whole head, so of course your hair is a totally different texture after that [laughter]. My stylist recommended it to me and it’s been so wonderful. The texture of your hair is so soft and it doesn’t feel too heavy.”
Dermaflash Dermapore Pore Extractor
“This is another funny tool that I recently got. It exerts ultrasonic waves and vibrations. It’s a little wand that has a metal plate that you turn on and press across your face. It makes stuff come out of your pores. I do it once a week or once every other week. You’re supposed to do it right after you cleanse your face and your face will have to be wet while you’re doing it. I’ll wash my face and do that, put on my serum and put everything else on.”
Dear Dahlia Eye Sequins Eye Shadow in Crystal Trance
“My really good friend Lucy, who is a set costumer -- she is the person on set who’s with the actors making sure their costumes look perfect, we’re both obsessed with sequins, glitter and basically anything shiny. We’ve always been on the hunt for the best glitter eyeshadow. Her and I met as adults but we reminisce about the Hot Topic days and glitter eyeshadow.
This is the most recent glitter shadow that I found and love. It’s just so good. The color too, crystal trance, is so beautiful. It’s funny because I don’t like to wear a ton of makeup but a lot of days I’ll use my OPTE and put on my crystal trance glitter eye shadow, mascara, and concealer and that’s kind of it.”