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Laura Dern's Outfits Are the Best Part of the ‘Twin Peaks’ Reboot

Dern’s FBI agent Diane Evans makes wigs and bangles everything in the Showtime reboot.

Dern with David Lynch in Twin Peaks.
Photo: Showtime

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Before this year, the fashion world of Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 1990–1991 bizarro soap opera/murder mystery, was clearly defined. The original show blended fashion elements of the ’50s and early ’90s to memorable effect, with characters clad in autumnal-hued sweaters, midlength skirts, and saddle shoes. With a Best Costume Design Emmy and several magazine spreads inspired by the costuming (including one in every cool ’90s girl’s favorite, Sassy), the show’s sartorial influence was cemented.

Laura Dern as Diane Evans on Twin Peaks.
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Now, over 25 years later, Twin Peaks is back, and in its new 18-episode iteration, it’s stranger and more unsettling than ever. So far Twin Peaks: The Return hasn’t had a saddle shoe in sight. The fashion, for the most part, hasn’t stood out the way it did in the original series. That is, until episode six, which introduced Diane Evans, an FBI secretary recruited to help figure out what’s happened to Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), the lovable star of the original series who ended up possessed by a malicious, mysterious force. Originally, Diane was an unseen presence known only by Cooper’s address to a tape recorder. Now she’s embodied to stylish and sassy perfection by none other than Lynch muse and powerhouse actress Laura Dern.

Diane is first seen sitting at a bar smoking a cigarette, clad in a platinum bob wig, a black top with teal and gold embroidery, fuchsia and teal bangles, and a multicolored manicure. From her very first appearance, in which she delivers only a single line, one thing is clear: She’s the most dynamically styled character yet.

In the next episode, we see Diane’s elegant apartment, where she lounges in a silky red robe printed with black flowers with blue accents. With the glossy wig, the robe, and the ever-present cigarette, she recalls a ’30s starlet, but to the delight of online Twin Peaks enthusiasts and meme-makers everywhere, she drops profanities with aplomb and has little patience for those around her.

One of the most pleasing things about Diane’s style so far is its consistency. She has yet to be seen without the wig, and the bangles and manicure are also standbys. We may not know Diane well, but one thing is obvious: she’s a woman who carries herself with confidence. In fact, every time Diane has appeared so far, she’s looked fabulous, despite her moral ambiguity (a whole other can of worms — remember, in Twin Peaks, nothing is as it seems).

That manicure of hers, with each nail in a different shade, could well be some kind of code — on this show, no detail seems to be without some hidden meaning. From the beginning, Twin Peaks has always dealt with the multiplicity of identity — a theme that was initially embodied by Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), the murdered homecoming queen who led a dramatic double life, and is now found in Agent Cooper, whose true self is stuck in an ominous purgatory while two of his doppelgangers wreak havoc.

Diane Evans in her Hepburn-esque pants.
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Diane’s multicolored nails suggest a multitude of possible identities. Her style is designed to stand out among dark-suited FBI personnel. At one point, on a plane with fellow bureau members Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), Gordon Cole (David Lynch), and Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell), she wears a leopard-print trench coat, a print and style long associated with femme fatales. She’s the only one in the group this colorfully attired, and as evidenced by her prodigious F-bomb dropping, she’s totally over them.

Diane appears to be a woman who dresses for herself — the wig and manicure are quirky and self-consciously costume-like. Fashion in Lynch’s work often plays a nostalgic, fetishistic role: the saddle shoes are the stuff of ’50s teen fantasy, and Diane’s closest competitor for best dressed is a trio of bored Las Vegas cocktail waitresses who assist sketchy men while wearing matching shiny, powder-pink dresses. Diane, so long unseen (some viewers even doubted whether she was a real person) possesses a similar kind of uncanny appeal, as she now appears in a wig that’s both glamorous and concealing. We see her, finally, but we don’t know much about her — other than the fact that she carries herself with style.

Diane frequently wears fuchsia, a color that keeps reappearing in Twin Peaks. It’s been seen on various characters’ shirts and lipsticks and found in the décor, and has even seeped into some of the show’s more experimental, non-fashionable passages. In episode 11, at a meeting in a dreary brown office, she sits perched on a stool, wearing a dark green sweater and dark fuchsia flared trousers. She’s seated high above her male colleagues, and her outfit immediately stands out. There’s something poignant about Lynch giving Dern, a longtime collaborator since her role in Blue Velvet (1986), the best outfit. Even when the director himself is in the frame, it’s Dern who stands out.

Diane knows what she likes: we see her re-wearing tops and the trench coat, and she also has a pair of forest green baggy trousers similar to the fuchsia ones. The trousers have a Katherine Hepburn quality, and are paired with a sharply fitted blazer with a pointy multicolored neckline that mirrors the colors of the bangles and manicure.

Dern has had a very fashionable year on television. Prior to this, she starred in Big Little Lies, where her outfits appeared uniformly chic and expensive and included a fabulous cat-print jumpsuit. Twin Peaks, of course, is worlds away, and presents Dern in costumes that read more like a uniform. There’s some continuity with Dern’s previous television roles: Twin Peaks costume designer Nancy Steiner was also the designer for Dern’s short-lived series Enlightened.

Miguel Ferrer, David Lynch and Laura Dern on Twin Peaks.
Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

In her previous collaborations with Lynch, Dern has played the good girl in pale, prim dresses (Blue Velvet) and the vamp in skin-tight biker-babe garb (Wild at Heart). Apart from the unclassifiable Inland Empire, in which fashion isn’t quite at the forefront and she primarily wears simple, solid-color outfits, Dern’s looks in Lynch’s films have hewed closely to feminine archetypes, even as the narratives spin into weirdness.

In Twin Peaks, Diane’s look borrows elements of the vamp without projecting too specific an archetype. How did this long-unseen character dress during Agent Cooper’s initial trip to Twin Peaks years ago? When does she take off the wig? How did she land upon her distinctive fuchsia/forest green/mustard yellow/leopard-print palette? We may never know, but with just a few fleeting appearances, Diane has established a signature look and brought fashion back to Twin Peaks.