Ayo Edebiri Rachel Sennott Zamani Wilder Summer Joy Campbell Havana Rose Liu Kaia Gerber and Virginia Tucker.nbsp
Ayo Edebiri, Rachel Sennott, Zamani Wilder, Summer Joy Campbell, Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber, and Virginia Tucker. Courtesy of ORION Pictures Inc.

Bottoms Asks the Question: ‘What Do You Wear to a Queer Fight Club?’

In case you missed it, Bottoms is the hotly anticipated lesbian-fight-club film by Emma Seligman, starring Rachel Sennott (who also featured in Seligman’s directorial debut, Shiva Baby) and Ayo Edebiri (the breakout star of The Bear), that premiered at SXSW.

Sennott and Edebiri play best friends PJ and Josie, high schoolers in a nondescript town in a not-so-distant past. Together the two decide to form a quote-unquote self-defense fight club while trying to score with their respective girl crushes, popular cheerleaders Brittany and Isabel (played by Kaia Gerber and Havana Rose Liu, respectively).

What ensues is camp and wry with a tinge of noir: a moveable feast of girl-on-girl action (of the fighting variety—the film doesn’t shy away from brawls and blood), perpetual tension, and a deliberate, in-your-face irony that prods at the insecurities and traumas teenagers confront every day (e.g., gender stereotypes, eating disorders, sexual abuse).

Sennott and Edebiri in Bottoms

Courtesy of ORION Pictures Inc.

These crises of identity are further propelled by the characters’ sartorial choices. Layered plaids and stripes under overalls, vintage velour tracksuits, graphic T-shirts, and baby-doll sheaths are the results of a collaboration between Seligman and the film’s costume designer, Eunice Jera Lee.

“Once I joined the project, Emma told me what she wanted the overall tone to be,” says Lee. “We wanted the fashion to be timeless, to bring in inspirations from Y2K films and films from past eras, from Grease (1978) to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Heathers (1988), Jawbreaker (1999), and Bring It On (2000)—all movies that were part of our formative youth.”

Lee, a Korean American who grew up in Orange County, California, is a Central Saint Martins alum and a former fashion stylist whose has been featured in W Korea, Dossier, and Schön, among other publications. After living for years in London and Seoul, she returned to LA in 2016 to design costumes for films including Gook, Blue Bayou, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, and the forthcoming feature The Collaboration, about Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Below, she shares her exclusive behind-the-scenes take on the clashing, cross-generational fashions behind Bottoms, which also stars actors Ruby Cruz and Dagmara Dominczyk and former NFL player Marshawn Lynch.

Vogue: How did you get involved with Bottoms?
Eunice Jera Lee: I’ve worked on a lot of realistic films and wanted to veer more toward a stylized direction with my projects. Once I was presented with the opportunity, I took a meeting with Emma and we just clicked, pinpointing the different genres and time periods we wanted to draw inspiration from to work together into a cohesive look.

Gerber, Lee, and Edebiri behind the scenes in Bottoms

Courtesy of Eunice Jera Lee

Tell us about the sartorial vision for the film. 
We wanted to call upon references from different decades but blend them all together in a seamless way that fit into this fictional world but also felt relevant to now. A lot of the reference material is an intrinsic part of our own cultural DNA, so I created a wardrobe that really felt natural.

How did fashion evolve throughout the film? 
Josie is much more aware of herself and her identity, and her style doesn’t really deviate. While PJ presents as confident, she’s the most insecure, sometimes emulating what Josie and other characters are wearing. In her opening scene, we see her idea of sexy, wearing a pleated skirt with suspenders inspired by The Craft, and when her crush, Brittany, tells her she looks like a “little Dutch boy,” we never see her wear it again.

We had a discussion about whether the fight club should have uniforms but ultimately decided to highlight identity in each character and push that forward. However in scenes where two girls are fighting, their styles may be completely different but the colors are always congruent. And as the film continues and they’re increasingly empowered through the fight club, their true styles start to emerge.

Sennott, Havana Rose Liu, and Edebiri

Courtesy of ORION Pictures Inc.

Why was this particular film meaningful for you? 
This film is great because it’s about two lesbian characters where there’s no question about their sexual identity and we could have fun with blurring boundaries. A lot of PJ and Josie’s clothes are inspired by menswear—rugby shirts, overalls, vintage T-shirts, or baggy pants. At the same time, the jocks never step out of their uniforms. I intentionally shrunk the silhouettes so that despite their toxic masculinity, which consumes this fictional town, they’re wearing tight, body-hugging uniforms that are all too small, which we would typically associate with femininity.

For Josie, I also wanted to incorporate her culture as a Black woman. In the last sequence and fight scene, Josie wears a shirt that says, “Artists are the Gatekeepers of Truth,” from Black artist and activist Brandan “BMike” Odums’s Studio Be in New Orleans, where we filmed.

Is there a character whose style you identify with? 
Definitely Hazel [Cruz]. She’s more androgynous and fashion-forward but always true to herself, wearing oversized men’s pieces from Vetements, All Saints, and Wales Bonner.

What other fashion moments in the film can you share with us?
Isabel wore a lot of pastel, vintage finds, and Jacquemus, whose mohair cardigans paired perfectly with her girly look. As for Brittany, whose character was inspired by the early aughts, her colors are a bit darker, so we see her in leathers, denim, bucket hats, and sporty Juicy Couture twinsets.

Costumes for Bottoms

Courtesy of Eunice Jera Lee

What’s one fashion film that inspired you growing up?
But I’m a Cheerleader, a cult classic featuring Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Michelle Williams, and RuPaul—it’s about a lesbian who’s sent to a conversion camp. The actors are constantly wearing monochromatic gender-assigning fashion sets in varying shades of pink and blue. Fight Club also redefined my idea of wardrobe in regard to gender. You see an ultra-masculine activity juxtaposed with a ringleader who wears feminine silhouettes and pieces like tight floral blouses—it shifted the way I view designing and self-expression when navigating gender.

What’s one fashion takeaway you want viewers watching Bottoms to leave with?
To stay true to your identity, because the greatest fashion sense comes from being comfortable and portraying yourself in the truest form.