Costume Designer Paolo Nieddu On Hulu’s Billie Holiday Film

Any one of my friends can tell you that if I’m not recommending what designers to support right now or the best things to buy, I’m discussing the latest shows and films to watch. Sure, like everyone, I’m a sucker for stylish characters or even semi-terrible television, but I don’t play around when it comes to recommending exquisite art because it can be therapeutic. With that in mind, allow me to recommend the latest on my list of must-sees: Hulu’s most recent debut, Billie Holiday vs. The United States.

Directed by Lee Daniels, the film brings to life the tragic demise of one of jazz’s biggest stars due to drug abuse, violent relationships, and a career-blighting sting-operation by the F.B.I. While this certainly isn’t the first time a film has depicted the government’s policing of Black artists and political movements, it is Holiday’s fight to bring civil inequities to light through her popular music that makes this film so powerful. It was the musician’s bone-chilling song about lynchings, Strange Fruit (1954) that propelled her into stardom. Notably, the release of that melody began the government’s censorship. Of course, that didn’t stop her from performing it across the south. And it’s that fiery spirit that seeped into every aspect of her life, her art, and, of course, her iconic style. 

If I haven’t sold you yet on why you need to watch this film, ahead you’ll hear from the film’s costume designer, Paolo Nieddu, about what it was like creating a Billie Holiday–inspired wardrobe for Andra Day, and how the process felt like a therapy session.


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