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Bad Liar’s Costume Designer on Dressing Selena Gomez in ’70s Vintage

Plus, how the shoot inspired Gomez to go shopping.

Selena Gomez (and a very awesome vintage patchwork shirt) in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Selena Gomez (and a very awesome vintage patchwork shirt) in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Photo: Interscope Records

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As if there weren’t enough reason to declare Selena Gomez’s Talking Heads-sampling “Bad Liar” as 2017’s song of the summer, the accompanying video dropped yesterday — and despite its four-minute running time, it feels more like a movie than a music video. Directed by Girls’s Jesse Peretz and set in the ’70s, the clip features Gomez playing four very different characters: a high school student, both of said student’s parents, and a sexy, Farrah Fawcett-esque gym teacher.

While seeing Gomez filling all four roles in some exceptionally amusing wigs is fun, however, the video’s wardrobe all but steals the show. That’s thanks to Kari Perkins, the Austin-based costume designer known for her collaborations with director Richard Linklater. (Dazed and Confused’s “Seniors” tees? Patricia Arquette’s decade-plus-long style evolution in Boyhood? All Perkins’s work.) I hopped on the phone with Perkins to chat about her “Bad Liar” looks — and what it was like collaborating with Instagram’s most-followed pop star.

Tell me about how you joined the “Bad Liar” crew.

So the director, Jesse Peretz, had referenced some images from Dazed and Confused in the story, and I did the costumes for Dazed and Confused! So they were like, “Well, you need to get Kari” — and I was available! They found me through my agency, and they flew me from Austin to LA to do it.

How did the video’s concept come about?

Jesse had already had the idea about setting it in the ’70s and had a presentation board for the video. That really drew the whole group of us together, because we could all refer to that as far as the production design, the hair, the makeup, the costumes, everything. It really gave the whole thing cohesion; we were able to take the references and go from there.

Jesse talked to me about wanting it to look very realistic, and I have a collection of ’70s and ’80s costumes from films that I’ve done in my stock, so I just brought everything I needed to costume everybody for this. I shipped it to LA. So we were able to do a lot of the background [cast] — and a lot of Selena’s looks, too — from my own stock of vintage pieces. And then I pulled some in LA once I was there, too, from Palace Costume. They’re not open to the public, but oh my gosh, that’s like the biggest goldmine of beautiful things, and really well organized! I was just blown away.

Selena Gomez in a Forever 21 tank top customized by Kari Perkins in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Selena Gomez in a Forever 21 tank top customized by Kari Perkins in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Photo: YouTube

And then we also made some things for the video, too. Like the looks for the basketball players — we made those, ironed on the letters! It was really fun.

Those tanks tops are so Dazed and Confused-esque! Okay, so did you wind up actually buying anything new for the shoot?

Well, those tank tops, before we ironed on the ‘WOLVES’ — they were actually from Forever 21. [Ed. note: The DIY-shy can currently preorder an identical tank top for $40 from Gomez’s merch store.] And the track jacket Selena wears as the PE teacher, we found that at Target. But those were the only things that were new.

When it came to all that vintage, did you wind up reusing anything from your previous film projects?

There were some things I used recently in Everybody Wants Some!!, and I did a movie a long time ago called Skateland — I used a lot of stuff from that, too. I just keep adding stuff to my collection, though. I can’t help it! If I’m shopping [for ’70s vintage], I’m just like, I have to have this!

I particularly loved the patchwork shirt Selena wears at the beginning of the video. I scoured the internet trying to find it and came up empty. I suppose it wasn’t a designer piece...

Nope, it’s totally vintage. And I’d never used it on anybody before! I held onto it for 20 years, just to put it on Selena! [Laughs] Same thing with the nightgown she wears at the end — it’s such a cool piece, and I’ve never used it on anybody. I just knew it was going to work. It’s just got a really good vibration, or something.

Selena Gomez in a vintage polo in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Selena Gomez in a vintage polo in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Photo: YouTube

I love that. Another favorite was the peach zip-up polo top she wears as the gym teacher.

Oh, with the little plaid yoke — that piece is so great. You know, we wound up having to make doubles on everything, and one of my assistants actually painted plaid onto the double to match the original — and it matched perfectly. You couldn’t even tell! So brilliant.

Is there one particular character from the video you especially loved dressing?

I loved all the different characters; they were just so unique. And Selena portrayed them all so well! So it’s hard to say which one’s my favorite, because they all are. But I really liked the mom, at the end — just the way she looked, the set, her hair and makeup, the whole character. She’s so beautiful, and I just really felt for her.

What are a few of your tried-and-true vintage shopping tips?

I love the small charity shops, like St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, Goodwill. I hit all of those stores in whatever town I’m in, just because you can always find a really good vintage piece. I like to go to the ones out in small towns, too — the little towns nobody really knows about — because that’s when you really find great stuff.

Back when we did Everybody Wants Some!!, the wardrobe for that entire film was thrifted. I sent a team out to hit thrift stores all over Texas, and we were able to do that entire film without any [costume] rentals. That was really cool.

Selena Gomez in vintage in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Selena Gomez in vintage in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Photo: YouTube

Austin’s got some incredible vintage stores, too.

Yeah! New Bohemia is really great — I love them, they have such great stuff. And Vagabond, which is right on the square in downtown San Marcos, always has really good vintage, too.

Tell me about working with Selena! This shoot must’ve been a blast.

Oh, it was! She’s so sweet, and so good. She was super professional, and very into creating these characters. And then once she got into each character, she really stayed in it, and could really flip in and out of each one easily. I think having the hair and everything helped, of course. Like when she had on the Farrah hair, she just got so bubbly and so cute. It was just really delightful to watch her and to work with her.

I know that she really loved the experience, too, and felt really inspired by it. She actually went out shopping at a vintage store afterwards to get some vintage of her own!

Selena Gomez in a vintage nightgown in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Selena Gomez in a vintage nightgown in the “Bad Liar” music video.
Photo: YouTube

I love that — and yes, it’s amazing how far she was able to establish all four characters in just a few minutes. “Bad Liar” really does feel like a little film.

Yay — that makes me so excited to hear! They need to make a [full-length] movie out of this so we can do it all again.