Lately, it’s been impossible to spend any time on social media without running into a photo of the actor Oscar Isaac in costume fittings for his recent HBO miniseries Scenes from a Marriage. Instagram, Twitter—no platform is safe from his wire-rimmed glasses and salt-and-pepper curls. Hell, E! News even crowned him their #ManCrushMonday. Now, Oscar’s a cutie, but the chatter here has mostly been centered on what he’s wearing. How can a pair of slouchy brown corduroys, a tweed jacket, and normie New Balances have everyone sweating this much?
One answer: the looks are the brainchild of costume designer and stylist Miyako Bellizzi, best known for her work on the Safdie brothers’ 2019 hit Uncut Gems. She’d posted a slew of looks of Isaac in character as Jonathan, one half of the married couple at the center of Scenes from a Marriage, on Friday. But if Howie Ratner’s boxy leather blazer and traffic-stopping yellow polo were a slam-dunk Halloween costume, then Isaac’s character Jonathan’s subdued sweaters and cords are more of a holy-grail model for elevated everyday wear.
For Bellizzi, costumes are always an opportunity to provide some backstory—to dive deep into the world that the character lives (and dresses) in. Even though Scenes from a Marriage is set in Boston, it’s fitting that Jonathan’s wardrobe, as in Gems, has roots in New York. “So he’s a Brooklyn boy—Orthodox from Crown Heights, specifically,” Bellizzi told me over the phone, adding that he left that world in part to be with his wife Mira, a successful executive played by Jessica Chastain. So what does a philosophy professor transplant from Brooklyn, whose well-heeled wife probably buys some of his clothes, wear when he’s not at work? And that’s how you get to some earthtone New Balance 993s here, and a Dries Van Noten cardigan there.
She wanted to start Jonathan off in a major look, pulling a slightly-batwing gray pullover from the lusted-after capsule collab between L.A.-based label Fear of God and Italian luxury house Zegna for episode one. It ended up being her favorite in the whole series. “It’s very round, and the reason why I liked it was because it kind of made him like round in proportion,” she says. “Oscar, you know, he’s a very handsome man. It’s hard to make him look… not dumpy… but it’s hard to make him not look good because he looks good in everything. I was trying to change his silhouette, at least in the beginning, [because] I wanted to end [the series] with him being the most dapper.” The color palette, filled with earthy browns and mustard yellows, is an homage to the era of Bergman’s original Scenes from a Marriage, which premiered in 1973.
“I wanted to keep it realistic but also kind of elevate it a little. Obviously a real professor wouldn’t be wearing like, Loro Piana and Dries,” Bellizzi says. And hey, this is TV: “There’s a lot riding on that one outfit because we’re watching it for an hour.”
In turn, his wardrobe of normie sneakers and ’70s earth tones—things that feel comfortable and lived-in—feels very of the moment, and also happens to hit on some more amorphously sexy buzzwords floating around in the menswear ether (think “dadcore” or “dark academia”). “Maybe it’s because Instagram is the place where people look the most for style inspo…but where do men look to find inspiration?” Bellizzi considers, thinking about why her post popped off over the weekend. “It happened to me in Gems, too,” with a costume look immediately resonating as cool and covetable to viewers. Certainly, times have changed since then: the pendulum’s swung from gaudy to chicly drab. To Bellizzi, Jonathan’s wardrobe—especially as it’s brought to life by Isaac—is alluring in that it’s “style that’s not street style, it’s not a fashion editorial, it’s a hyper-realistic show. I think it’s relatable to a lot of guys that they’re like, ‘Oh, I can see myself wearing that.’”