'Handmaid's Tale' Costume Designer Reacts to Kylie Jenner's Controversial Theme Party (Exclusive)
By Paige Gawley
Dan MacMedan/Getty Images
Kylie Jenner's Handmaid's Tale theme party certainly raised some eyebrows, including those of the show's costume designer, Natalie Bronfman.
Following Jenner's June Gilead-themed bash, ET caught up with Bronfman and, though she said she was "a little shocked" to see the iconic red costume -- which is a symbol of women's oppression on the Hulu series -- used in that way, she didn't think the 21-year-old reality star had ill intent.
"I don’t think it's done maliciously as it is more done not having really thought the process through and really [understanding] the symbolism," Bronfman told ET in a phone interview. "We live in a society where people don’t take the time to read the full newspaper article, they usually read the headline. And everything is in split seconds and then they move on to something else. And that’s just where we’re going at with all of the technology."
"So I know it wasn’t really done for any other reason other than not having really understood what this stands for. Not everyone has read Ms. Atwood’s book," Bronfman continued, referring to Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale, on which the show is based. "Not everyone knows the core meaning of it I guess. I mean people will wear what they wear and I can’t criticize people’s choices -- but yeah, I was a little shocked."
Jenner's controversial costume choice wasn't the only use of the iconic getup that left the designer confused.
"I mean even the sexy handmaids' Halloween thing. I was like, 'What are you thinking, guys? What are you even thinking?'" Bronfman admitted. "Or sometimes men put on these things and then... I think, 'OK guys. You guys clearly don’t understand why this is, what it’s being used for.' But again, people will do what they do and everyone has free choice, which is what we also fight for."
While Bronfman said that she's "not here to criticize" Jenner for her choices, Bradley Whitford, an actor on The Handmaid's Tale, didn't mince words while sharing his opinion on the subject during an interview on The Talk.
"I don't know. It seems a little tacky," Whitford said of Jenner's use of the costume. "You know, that costume is so kind of iconic and it's interesting how it's changed from initially a symbol of oppression to, now as the show is moving ahead, to a symbol of resistance."
"So, yeah, a cocktail party seems to sort of dash all that significance," he added.
That added significance that Whitford mentioned -- specifically women wearing the handmaids' uniform for political protest surrounding pro-choice rights -- is something that Bronfman is aware of and "honored" by.
"I’m honored and I’m proud," she told ET. "These women are doing such incredible work because they’re really fighting for something they really need and want. And actually, I still can’t believe we’re still fighting for this in this day and age anyhow. But it’s exciting to see this thing that we’ve created on screen in the real world."
"You can’t ignore the red. It’s there, it’s current, it's passion, it's anger, it's love, it's everything," Bronfman continued. "God I hope we get ahead with using this. I hope we get what we need, you know? I have women who’ve been emailing me saying, 'When we put this on and we’re in big groups we feel strong and powerful. We feel we can get what we need with this as our uniforms for an army,' which is, like, wow! They emailed me and I said, like, 'Oh my God!'"
"It's such an honor, honestly. To see that there's this one costume, this one look that if you take one look at, you know what that person is fighting for, you know whose side they're on, and you know what they believe in," Moss told ET at the time. "To have a visual representation like that, there are very few things that that can do and that’s what I get to put on every day. That is pretty cool."
"Like, I get to wear that at work and I feel very kind of honored to do that," she added. "Those women inspire me, so the fact that they're out there, they're actually -- I'm an actor. I'm doing a TV show. These women are actually on the front lines and they’re actually doing the work. So, I get inspired by them wearing the costume."
"I'm so grateful to them," Moss' co-star, Ann Dowd, agreed to ET. "To think that it could step outside of a source of entertainment, if you will, onto the street -- it's so gratifying and what a privilege to be part of this. And when I see it, honestly I wish I could just bow down in gratitude to it. It's beautiful. And the strength to get out there and stand up in the face of it, it's fantastic."
Meanwhile, actress Madeline Brewer told ET that the use of the costume in this way was "very flattering" to see.
"It is also so important that it's taking on this relevancy and now that it's become this kind of symbol of resistance and a symbol of that women are not going to Gilead," she said. "We are not turning into The Handmaid's Tale, we are not going back, we are not rolling back the rights of women into the '50s. We're not doing this."