Fashion’s nostalgia for the 90s has hit a fever pitch in recent years, but the world has changed many times since we first experienced this decade. This is why the Pamela Anderson that we see in the new Hulu miniseries Pam and Tommy just hits different – and not just because of Lily James’ jaw-dropping demise in character.
How differently the infamous unauthorized sex tape of Anderson and then her husband Tommy Lee would be received in today’s post-Me Too world. How Hollywood’s gaze would have treated her differently – not as the bombshell bimbo, but as a complicated woman trying to make her way in the world. All of these considerations and more have been carefully integrated into Pam and Tommyit is costumes, helmed by the talented Kameron Lennox.
We call Lennox to find out more about what went into that production and why she thinks Pamela Anderson continues to be one of the most enduring style icons of the ’90s.
90s Pam Anderson! There is so much material to work on here. Did you try to copy certain looks or did you take some creative liberties?
There are iconic and historic moments that we have recreated exactly as they happened. I thought it was really important that we do that. For example, the Baywatch stuff – we had to nail it. There were a few things we needed to change on this red swimsuit like the patch is a bit different for legal reasons but otherwise the fit had to fit Lily James body the same as the body from Pam. Then there was the deposition scene, where she had to dress for court. It was this skirt suit but worn in a very Pam way. It wasn’t super short, but it wasn’t long. We recreated this look.
There are also amazing latex pieces in Pam and Tommy.
We contacted the company that made the originals, Syren Latex on the east side of Los Angeles. They still had the original patterns that Pam wore back then, so we had them made in all the different colors and variations to fit Lily. The cool thing about working with latex and rubber is that it tends to get dusty and powdery, so it comes with that kind of lubricant that you apply and reapply to bring out the shine. We were constantly on set to make her shine and shine in those scenes. And normally you would pull a latex dress over your head and pull it up, but because of the prosthetic breasts that Lily wears in the movie, we built a zipper on the back of the pieces.
Between Pamela’s figure and Tommy’s private parts, it looks like it was one hell of a prosthetic project.
We had an incredible prosthetic team on this job. Lily’s prosthetics were often modified to fit a certain way or to work with a certain outfit. There has been a lot of discussion! The thongs we made for Sebastian’s character [Tommy Lee], we made them to measurements, but these were taken before the prosthesis was finished. We were about to shoot, and the prosthesis turned out to be much bigger than the flip-flops we had made. We had to do a last minute emergency cut and sew. Fortunately, we had a very good film crew.
Working in LA had to be perfect for that. I imagine vintage stores have so many great stuff relevant to Hollywood in the 90s, when the events of Pam and Tommy take place.
Pam wore a lot of Alaïa, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana and Vivienne Westwood. I did a lot of extensive research to find out what Pam was wearing at the time, and was able to find many pieces from various vintage dealers. There’s a white dress with ruffles and pink flowers from Vivienne Westwood that I found at Replika Vintage. It’s pretty amazing how much you can find if you know where to look. Many vintage dealers also sell on Etsy and eBay. Vintage dealers tend to have their own eye, and it’s just a matter of understanding which dealers have what you’re looking for. Pam’s publicist on our show wears a lot of Escada, and we bought a lot of them from Recess. on La Brea. Another great one we used was The Kit Vintage on Beverly. If you know what you’re looking for, you can usually find it.
Pamela Anderson didn’t wear much jewelry in the ’90s, and that’s reflected in the show. Why do you think that was?
She had a real understanding of her body, and it’s almost like jewelry takes the focus away from it. When she wore clothes, it wasn’t about how the clothes would change her appearance; it was how the clothes would accentuate what she already has and who she is.
People remember Pam Anderson’s final moments, such as the furry hat and dramatic red carpet statements, all of which occur long after the events we see in Pam and Tommy. The real “90s Pam” was almost minimal in a way.
She wore minimal pieces in every sense of the word. She was incredibly smart in the way she wore her clothes. She really knew what she was doing. Nothing was belted, nothing was exaggerated. It was this idea of throwing something on it. Maybe it was just the perfect dress, or maybe it was denim shorts and a t-shirt. She makes incredibly sexy shorts and T-shirt.
What was it like working with Lily James on this character?
She really embodied that character. Every actress is different, but she really enjoyed being hands-on and collaborating on costume decisions. She is so outgoing and sweet, and would always take my texts and calls, even on weekends. A role like this also requires everyone to be on the same page. You have to discuss everything, especially with the actor playing a real person. A costume can take them out of their role if it is not correct. Lily was very involved and it was really nice to work together to get that clarity.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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