The final season of Netflix original series House of Cards is one that caused some huge divisions in the fanbase, but one thing that was never up for debate was how incredible the costumes worn by the show's leading stars were. To get some insight about how they came together, we spoke to the brilliant Jessica Wenger, who served as the costume designer on Season 6. Here's what she had to say about all of that, as well as her advice for anybody who may want to go down a similar career path.

Can you tell us a little bit about when you started working on House of Cards, and how the opportunity came about? 

My friend and mentor Johanna Argan got the job designing House of Cards in 2014. She brought me out to assist her in Season 3. She left the show after Season 5, and I got to take over as Costume Designer. It was an incredible experience to be able to grow with the show and then be able to design the final season!

How did you find the whole experience of working on the show? 

House of Cards was the first of its kind. It sort of broke the mold for what a TV show is and can do. The first show to drop all episodes at once, to be able to stream an entire season and to be available globally all at once. The Costume Department is one of the largest I have ever worked with, and each person was just so incredibly talented. We had people working in LA, Baltimore and New York shipping clothes overnight and doing days of fittings to get the look right. The scope of this show was just so huge from a production standpoint, so much more went in to every scene than people even realise.

There's a huge focus on female empowerment in this final season; is that something you wanted to push through in the costume designs you created for the show? 

There definitely is a thread of female empowerment in the entire season. As the season progresses, the world around Claire gets filled with more and more women. The Oval Office got a “grey” make over and all the women in her cabinet are dressed in shades of grey. It was a subtle way to tie Claire’s controlled womanised world together versus all the other forces out there against her.

What sort of character development and evolution did you want to put through in your designs? 

As the season progresses, it all starts to get slightly more grey. You see that most starkly in Claire’s hand picked cabinet members. We also chose to have Stamper end the season in grey, which is very telling that the season ends in the Oval Office, reflecting Claire's ultimate control.

What were one of your favourite pieces to design and why? 

I loved telling Stamper's (Michael Kelly’s) story this season. He had so much to discover within himself as the season progressed. I custom made most of his suits and shirts this year with my custom clothing company- Heywood & Ringo. I also loved dressing Jane Davis (Patricia Clarkson), she wore this gold lamè gown and carried red shoes through the White House residence. It is the only time you see pure red this season in a costume, and it leads to a pivotal scene between Jane and Claire.

What was it like working with the likes of Robin Wright and Constance Zimmer in the show? Did you work with them closely?

Working with the talented women on this show has just been incredible. Robin was so integral in every part of the show this last season. I love working with her as a director. She knows what she wants to get out of every scene, and also is a true collaborator. She doesn’t micro manage and trusts the people hired to do their creative jobs around her. Constance Zimmer is one of the most genuine people I have ever worked with. She is one of few people that played her character for all six seasons of the show. I loved working with her to make sure all the minute details tell Janine's story the right way. She is one of the characters that was always trying to tell the truth in this crazy Underwood world. Connie and I laughed this year because we had her wear these shoes from Season 1 that David Fincher (original showrunner and director) hated, and she would text him pictures of the shoes from set. 

What tips do you have for readers who want to rock their own power suit or look? 

I am all about the power suit! The best tip I can give to anyone is to invest in proper tailoring. It's not as expensive as you think, and it will help tweak your clothes in a way you can't buy off the rack. It's more about getting the fit right than any designer brand. And no matter what you wear - wear it with confidence. Nothing says power suit like confidence.

Are there any big shows or even stars you'd love to work with or dress in the future? 

This whole job is about collaboration, and I just love that connection with other people in production. I would love any project that challenges me and requires me to grown and learn more in what I do. I had such a great experience with Netflix and MRC on House of Cards, that I would love to work with them and be on their platform again.

For those who would love to go down this career path, what advice do you have? 

Say yes to everything. When you start out, find some people with careers you would love to have, offer to intern, work for free around them - just be a sponge. It almost always will turn into something in the future. And my biggest thing is just be nice to everyone. Someone who is an intern getting coffee on this job, will move up and could be hiring you at some point in the future. Just treat everyone with kindness, when women support women and respect each other, we are just unstoppable. 

Finally, what do you have coming up in the next few months that you could share some details about?

My husband and I have a custom suiting and tuxedo company called Heywood & Ringo. We started it after our wedding, because no one offered a custom suiting look for weddings at a reasonable price point . It has grown from there, and we just launched our first female-focused piece: A cape - a refreshing take on the power suit jacket. We also just welcomed our second child, so we are loving just being a family and spending some quality time together. www.heywoodandringo.com is the website and you can find us at @heywoodandringo on Instagram.

House of Cards seasons 1-6 are available now, exclusively on Netflix.


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