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MOMA grandma, Noguchi Nepo Baby and other fashion in Beef
character style analysis
One of my many far-fetched dream jobs is to be a costume designer for TV shows. When I see a character onscreen wearing clothes by a designer I recognize, I feel an intense burst of personal victory, like I’m winning a game of fashion trivia. (It’s a little obnoxious if you are watching TV with me). I will jump off the couch and yell “Rachel Comey dress! Babaa cardigan!” Beef made a splash on its debut weekend on Netflix and it was a delightful watch from start to finish. As an Asian-American from California, the characters all felt acutely realistic, down to the way they dressed.
Amy, Craft Fair Mom
In the first few scenes with Amy, I thought she looks like a rich mom at a craft fair. Echo Park Craft Fair. West Coast Craft. Etc. If you’re familiar with this subset of California culture then you know what I mean! This archetype of woman wears Baserange underwear at home (mixed in with some ARQ sets), Black Crane jumpsuits for running around after the kids, a crisp Rachel Comey number for dinner parties. Her kid is probably wearing a mini Misha & Puff sweater.
One realistic “mom style” touch I enjoyed was Amy’s colorful beaded necklace. It looked very summer camp and contrasted with her otherwise neutral color palette, which made me think Junie gave it to her. Amy’s outfits are a reflection of how she masks and suppresses her inner rage. You would never guess she was so full of existential dread and burnout because her clothes exude ease.
Fumi, MOMA Grandma
I LOVED Fumi’s character. She brings an eccentric twist to the mother-in-law/boy mom trope with her bob, avant-garde outfits, and bold graphic eyeliner. Yayoi Kusama must have been on the moodboard for Fumi’s character. She wears dramatic shapes and geometric patterns. Lots of color. Big bangles and orblike pendants. I imagine her closet is full of CDG, Issey Miyake and Marimekko. Fumi believes she has exquisite taste and will let you know her unsolicited opinion on everything.
She is a MOMA grandma. An older woman who wields her cultural capital in art spaces and dresses the part.
I also spotted a Kimino drink perched on the dresser of Fumi’s guest room. She would drink $4 sparkling ume juice.
George, Noguchi Nepo Baby
George is the son of a famous artist/furniture designer and stuck in the shadow of his late father’s legacy. A Noguchi nepo baby. He comes from art money and had a sheltered upbringing in contrast to Amy.
Cardigan-clad George is clueless: he doesn’t know how to change a flat tire, doesn’t carry cash for an emergency, can’t sell his sculptures on his own. This man hasn’t really had to work hard in his life.
And his style reflects that. George wears luxe, minimal, art hoe clothes in the same neutral palette as Amy. Natural fibers only. Together, they are the picture of upper echelon creative class Los Angeles. If Amy is shopping at Mohawk General Store, George is at Mohawk Man next door shopping new Margiela arrivals. You just know he’s browsing the SSENSE sale between his bike rides and pottery. Spending money he doesn’t make! Liking girls’ bikini photos on Instagram! Writing in his gratitude journal!
Danny, Lana Del Rey-coded Cynic
Danny wears his depression on his sleeve. I noticed throughout the show, Danny is depicted wearing plain clothing in blues, grays and whites. The clothing is always functional workwear because he actually does manual labor. It’s worn without irony—no Carhartt WIP here. These drab colors reflect his hopeless mood and blend in with the pedestrian surroundings of Foresters and Burger King.
The shades of blue are a faded teal - never bright. It looks like something you would find at a thrift store. Danny struggles with personal growth, and that’s why his wardrobe is so static. He does not shop for new clothes, and wears things until they fall apart. His character is stuck in the past, unable to move on and experience personal growth. He funnels his rage and disappointment into his beef with Amy’s character, only to keeping losing.
It’s worth nothing the color of his truck is a faded deep red. Someone like Danny wouldn’t drive a bright red truck, which is flashy and implies newness, upkeep, and vanity. His truck is the color of a dried bloody scab.
Since we see him in his truck a lot, there’s a framing of the faded blues with the faded red truck window like the colors of the American flag. I interpret this as a subtle message on the false hope of the American dream and how Danny’s pain is manifested through his dreams going up in flames (the house burning down, the Hibachi grill scene). The Lana Del Rey-ness of it all.
Kōyōhaus, Japandi Darling Concept Store
Spaces are characters too so I want to call out Kōyōhaus, Amy’s upscale plant store/curated art space. The interior design of Kōyōhaus is textbook Japandi (Japanese meets Scandinavian). This style of spacious and organic design is ubiquitous in LA, and acts as a cultural shorthand for the stomping grounds of the creative class: morning coffee at Maru, groceries at Erewhon, plant shopping at Kōyōhaus.
Thanks for reading! Curious to hear your thoughts and observations on fashion in Beef. I loved this show so much.
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