Patricia Regan has created a fun, ’50s look for Mrs. Maisel.
Perusing through make-up artist Patricia Regan’s résumé, much of her work has been on films and TV shows that take place in the past. There was the miniseries Mildred Pierce, which followed the events in 1930s California; Pan Am, the 2012 ABC series that looked at the jet age in the ’60s; and Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything, which took place in the flamboyant 1920s, telling the story of the rise of a jazz star.
“I don’t like to live in the now,” Regan says. “For me, I find excitement and enjoyment in creating looks of days gone by.”
It’s only fitting that Regan’s current project is leading the make-up department of one of TV’s hottest shows—Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which won this year’s Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, as well as for individual honors for its stars Rachel Brosnahan (Lead Actress) and Alex Borstein (Supporting Actress).
The show follows Midge Maisel (Brosnahan), a housewife in 1958 New York City who discovers she has a knack for stand-up comedy.
Although Regan wasn’t involved in the pilot for the show, she was asked to come on board to lead the make-up department by Nick Thomason, who she had worked with on Girls.
“He knows I love doing period work so, of course, I said I was interested and once I saw the pilot, I thought there would be a really nice opportunity for me to contribute to this show and make it look even more beautiful,” she says.
Like most pilots, things were put together quickly, so once the show got the go-ahead, Regan started with episode two and had free reign to re-create the looks and add her own stamp on things.
“There was a ’50s look certainly in place already, but we just took it and refined it and we really created the current look of the show,” Regan says. “I love the ’50s because it’s very stylized, it’s very put together.”
As she does with most projects, Regan began scouring old books, movies and even flea markets to help set the proper tone.
“I always try to find real photographs of the period and I went through a tremendous amount for this show. Whether it’s family photos, wedding photos, photos of clubs, photos of just New York City and people walking. There’s quite a lot you can find,” she says. “I had actually done ’58, ’59 before and I’ve done early ’50s, so I had some good insight already. Plus, I was born in 1959, so I have pictures of my mom at a young age to draw on.”
Working alongside hair designer Jerry DeCarlo and costume designer Donna Zakowska, Regan noted working on the show is a collaborative effort and she often takes her make-up cues from the colors and looks they design.
For Brosnahan’s character, Regan makes sure to individualize her appearance when she performs comedy in the Gaslight club (“a little softer and more modern”) than when she’s home with her parents or at work (“clean, classic, very put together.”)
“I always use black eye liner on Rachel, and really like the M.A.C. Blacktrack, and I love a Chanel mascara because it just works well for me,” she says. “A lot of my lipsticks are YSL because they have really highly pigmented colors that work really well and they’re also the right shades for what I’m looking for—the really, really beautiful reds and even rose-colored.”
She also uses RMS blush, which she calls a “true red blush,” comparing it to the blush that Three Custom Colors used to make for her before moving to the Cape.
“It’s a red I’ve used for years in different periods because it comes up as just a little bit of a flushed kind of cheek and you can take it further or less, and being that Rachel’s skin is so porcelain, it works out really nicely,” Regan says. “You just add color to her cheeks and then sometimes I switch to a rose color and then I found this RMS color that is in that same vein as the Three Custom Colors that they have mixed for me and I just love it.”
Instead of foundation, Regan utilizes Koh Gen Do pale powder that is a little reflective and looks a little pink. When she does need a foundation, she’ll turn to Bobbi Brown foundation.
“Sometimes, I just need to have a little cover-up and I like to do a whole look without making it a whole mask,” she says. “I like the skin to look natural and not look completely made up but have a really finished look.”
For Season Two, which premiered Dec. 5, Regan mixed Midge’s look up a bit, adding in some Givenchy and French lipsticks.
Borstein plays tough-as-nails club manager Susie Myerson, who becomes Midge’s agent and manager.
“She has a very simple, very minimal make-up, but we do a designing of the eyes a little bit,” Regan says. “She’s supposed to have a no-make-up look really, but we’ll just pop her eyes a bit because she’s wearing a hat most of the time and the club is always a bit dark and we don’t want to lose her eyes so we just do whatever we can to help hold on to what we have.”
That means mostly mascara and soft, black eye liner, but very smudged. Also, lip balm for her lips.
Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle play Midge’s parents, Abe and Rose, Upper West Side Jews who aren’t too keen with their daughter’s new career path.
“For Marin, her character’s the one that’s most put together, so I do an Armani [Luminous] Silk Foundation on her, which is a little heavier and keeps her always very porcelain and finished looking, allowing a stronger eye,” Regan says. “I use more of an elongated eye liner and also do a sort of rosy blush. I like to stay in the rose colors for her.”
Rose’s wardrobe in Season One was mostly very light beige and pale, but Season Two will see her wearing a bit more color.
“This season, I have her with a bit more definition to keep her eyes really strong and I always have just a very soft plum in her lower lashes,” Regan said. “And always very defined eyebrows. I almost do a little bit of a ’40s touch because I figured she’s young in the ’30s, early ’40s, so we hold on to a little bit of that and sometimes go out a little bit in lips, to a darker lipstick. Givenchy’s Stiletto Rouge.”
Regan also uses the Three Custom Color red blush on Hinkle, as well as the Anastasia Beveryly Hills Brow Wiz in Granite on her brows and the Dipbrow Pomade, which helps her sculpt the eyebrows more. For Hinkle’s lower lashes, she uses a plum color from a 24-hour pencil she picked up in Paris. To complete her look, there’s the Numeric Proof beige powder to set her, a Blinc mascara and a Nars concealer in Chantilly.
Shalhoub gets very minimal work, and Regan noted it’s mostly about keeping his mustache trimmed and using just a little bit of powder and maybe a little concealer. Most of the rest of the men on the show are super clean shaven and very groomed, and she likes a groomed-eyebrows look.
As for the rest of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s world, there are scenes in an office with lots of background players and Regan makes sure all the women look refined with dark eye liner and red lips, and a “sort of powdered look” so there’s no shiny faces.
“Then when we enter one of the comedy clubs, we keep them kind of raw and show the transition that they’re not powdered, and they’re not refined, but they may have red lipstick and nothing else. But maybe an eye liner because that is sort of a bohemian downtown look, which already is sort of the forerunner for what’s to come in the ’60s, because the show is at the very end of ’59 and change is in the air. I’m looking forward to some new territory to explore.”
The meticulous attention to detail in recreating New York in the 1950s for the Amazon shows. transcends the usual nostalgic kitsch. Our photographer spent three days behind the scenes.
When actors come in off the street, they’re scrubbed clean, then made up in a late-’50s style, under the direction of Patricia Regan, the head of the makeup department.
“I have to be honest with you, I don’t wear any makeup — not ever,” she confided. “But for the show, I have one red lipstick that I absolutely love. It’s YSL 201. It’s the red that Rachel wears when she performs in the black dress. It’s a really rich, flawless, beautiful red. I have tried so many red lipsticks in the past couple of years. I would find beautiful colors, but they wouldn’t stay on, they wouldn’t read, but this lipstick is the perfect lipstick.”