When you have a plot that’s as confusing as Selena Gomez playing a teen outcast harboring a crush on a Farrah Fawcett-lookalike Selena Gomez — who may or may not be having an affair with male Selena Gomez, who is married to mom Selena Gomez — things can unravel pretty fast.
But in Gomez’s one-woman show that is her “Bad Liar” music video, it all came together rather ingeniously, in large part to the direction by Jesse Peretz (whose impressive TV resume includes Orange Is the New Black, Girls, and Divorce), Gomez’s acting, and the work of talented costume designer Kari Perkins.
Billboard got Perkins on the phone to ask her about the significance of the costumes, her overall inspiration, and whether Farrah Fawcett was indeed a point of reference.
How did you become involved?
Jesse wanted a really realistic look for the costumes — several of his reference photos were from [’70s-set 1993 comedy] Dazed & Confused, and since I worked on Dazed & Confused, they reached out to me about a week before we started filming. I was available, and it all worked out.
Were you stressed at all?
I’m used to having short notice, and I knew I had great pieces [in my personal inventory] already. I used to do music videos a long time ago, and I haven’t done in a while, so it was fun. They treated it like a mini-film — the beautiful sets, the way it was lit, the cinematic quality — but the biggest difference was that it was a lot faster-paced. It took two days to shoot, so we had a very limited time to get a whole lot of ideas and footage in. We had to work really quickly; I’m not used to working at such a fast pace, so it was like: Alright, let’s go, let’s go!
Where did you source the clothing from? Did you have Dazed & Confused flashbacks?
That was like 20 years ago, so no flashbacks, but I’ve done a couple films since then, like [2016 comedy] Everybody Wants Some!!, which had the same kind of vibe. I have a stock of great true vintage ‘70s, 80’s clothing that I’ve collected over the years. I rented some from local costume houses, and we also made some things too, like the basketball team outfits. We created the wolves shirts for the team. That was fun.
How did you come up with Selena Gomez’s costumes?
Jesse came up with the story concept [of the characters]. For Selena’s main character, we wanted to make her like a cool-but-sweet kid that didn’t really fit in. For the mom, I wanted to do something more extreme — I wanted her to be more put-together, more of a worldly woman. For the gym teacher — Farrah Fawcett was our inspiration for that character. She was just so iconic and so beautiful at the time; everyone wanted to be like her.
And finally, for the male figure, that was really fun; especially finding something that would actually fit Selena because she’s so tiny. We laughed so hard [every time Selena was in the male costume] — she was so into character, too, just nailing it every time. We couldn’t stop laughing.
Which was the easiest character to nail? And the hardest?
They were all easy — it was movie magic. We tried some things on, and we knew which ones were it. Selena just walked into these characters so easily, and it looked great. The hardest part was altering the suits to fit — that was the most challenging. I brought a few different color choices and all those were true vintage. I went with one that I thought worked the best: The lapel wasn’t too big, it didn’t overpower her, and it was proportional.
Was there anything you wanted to stay away from?
I wanted to create a very realistic look, like what people really wore in the ‘70s. I wanted to stay away from over-the-top or really campy looks. A lot of times when people think of the ‘70s, they just go all out with big bell bottoms, [like a] costume-y look. Jesse and I wanted a real look, and I think I was able to achieve that.
What was it like working with Selena Gomez?
Selena was truly delightful to work with; she’s such a lovely human being. She was so into it, and really good about the different characters and taking on the persona for that character. She’s really talented. We had a really great time with the video.
Was there a connection between Selena Gomez’s other project 13 Reasons Why and “Bad Liar?”
I wasn’t a part of the other project, so if there was, it was probably done subtly with her management and record label, and with the director. It would be cool if it all tied together.
Which one was your favorite look? And Selena Gomez’s?
My favorite’s the mom. I love the ‘70s mom look, and she’s dressed up for dinner, with her hair perfectly done. That one was the one that stood out to me, but they were all so awesome. Her favorite — I don’t know. She probably liked them all, she was into each character.
What about the last scene? Was the dress vintage?
That was true vintage, too and that was from my collection. The bedroom set started off as improv and it turned into a really great dance scene, with her spinning around. So brilliant.
Was it a collaborative effort?
Everybody worked together really closely. Jesse had clear ideas about what he wanted things to look, and he was able to present those ideas, so we were all on the same page. It was a very cohesive group. It was a delightful experience.