Josie and the Pussycats was released 21 years ago today, so there’s no better time to celebrate the talents of costume designer Leesa Evans and writer / director Deborah Kaplan!
Leesa began her career with music videos and television shows before entering the world of mainstream film by designing costumes for American Pie in 1999.
Only two years later, she worked on Josie and the Pussycats, crafting funky rockstar outfits that perfectly matched the era and the comedic tone of the film. She dressed Parker Posey in body decals and creative gowns and Rachel Leigh Cook, the face of the fictional Pussycats, in animal prints to honor the name of the band. Her careful attention to detail and fun use of the film’s aesthetic defined the experience of watching the movie.
Josie and the Pussycats is both written and directed by Deborah in collaboration with her creative partner, Harry Elfont. It is a teen comedy and staple of early aughts cinema that follows the members of the titular band, Josie, Val, and Melody, as they quickly rise to fame in an industry dominated by consumerism and corruption.
Deborah also co-directed Can’t Hardly Wait, another teen comedy starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lauren Ambrose and Ethan Embry, about a party that takes place after their high school graduation. She also wrote romantic comedies like Leap Year and Made of Honor.
Although Deborah and Leesa have only worked together on one film, Roza Melkumyan details Leesa’s work on various woman-centered films in an article she wrote for FF2 Media. She also includes analysis regarding the way Leesa’s costume design choices affect each narrative. For Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, Roza writes, “Amy [the lead character played by Amy Schumer] always looks just a little off in comparison to the people around her. In an interview with People, Evans explains that she and Schumer talked a lot about ‘what it meant to be a ‘trainwreck’’ and how that might be portrayed in the clothes that Amy dons. At a baby shower in the suburbs, her low-cut dotted dress is a little more revealing than the cardigan ensembles of her peers. At work, her skirts and blazers are just a little less tailored than the structured blouses of her boss, Dianna (Tilda Swinton).”
As for Leesa’s work on Always Be My Maybe, directed by Nahnatchka Khan and starring Ali Wong as Sasha and Randall Park as Marcus, Roza writes, “Much like Amy, Sasha does not care to change her life. Still, as she finds herself reconnecting with her parents and relaxing into her old San Francisco life, the shape and color of her clothing do, too. She wears trendy, comfortable tees, cardigans, and dresses in her signature red, while adding in softer shapes and colors like pink and white. A little less controlling but still focused and motivated, Sasha finds balance – with the help of Marcus, of course.”
You can celebrate the creativity and skill of Deborah Kaplan and Leesa Evans by watching Josie and the Pussycats today, or appreciate Leesa’s costume design in the woman-directed film Always Be My Maybe on Netflix!
© Anna Nappi (4/11/22) Special for FF2 Media.
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Roza Melkumyan’s thorough article on the costume design career of Leesa Evans.
Check out Leesa’s personal site for more information about her projects and life.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: “Josie And The Pussy Cats – Music From The Motion Picture” by Brett Jordan is marked with CC BY 2.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse.