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About A Girl:

Interview by Ally Mullen

Costume designer and celebrity stylist Heidi Bivens explains how neon, Instagram and Kevin Federline inspired her on the set of Spring Breakers.

Hi Heidi! So from the start, what was the vision Harmony described to you for Spring Breakers, and what was it like working with him?

From the very beginning he had the vision of a lot of things shot at night and using a lot of bright colors throughout the clothes. I think neon was the really big thing for him from the beginning. He knew he wanted to make a film with these girls in bikinis with guns. It was such a pleasure working with him because when he hires his team, he lets them do their job. He'll let you know what he wants but at the same time he trusts you and to be hired by a director to do a job and then be trusted to do that job is the biggest gift.

Where did the inspiration for the costumes come from?

I looked at a lot of spring break pictures. I combed through Harmony's and there were hundreds, and I picked what I thought were the most aesthetically appealing in terms of what real girls wear. It seems like a pretty easy look to be able to get, but there's just so many options in terms of brands and colors and silhouettes.

How did you first start creating each character's look? Where did you shop?

When I first start, I build a closet for each character realistically. I look at brands that they would have access to, because they were going to school in the script. For shopping, it was a combination—going to stores the girls would really go to and reaching out to brands that made sense. Also, we shot in St. Petes so I was able to go to local malls and beach stores and actually get clothes these girls really would wear. Then there were some pieces designed especially for the film—I always try to do that. As a designer I have an idea for something in my head, like a certain silhouette or a color or a fabric, but going out into the world and trying to find it is like a needle in a haystack, so it's just easier to design it.

Were the pink ski masks one of those pieces?

Yes! The pink ski masks were a Harmony idea. He's such a visionary director and I think it was one of the visuals from the very beginning that he had in mind. Making them was a lengthy process. It seems like such a simple thing, but a pink florescent ski mask didn't exist that I could find. I went through weeks of trial and error dyeing ski masks trying to get them to glow underneath black light. So it was a lengthy process to find a color and dye that would glow under black light that Harmony liked and the girls felt comfortable in. But it was fun! I was doing it in the kitchen. I find that part of costume design fun.

Could you give us a quick run-down of each of the girls' looks and how they're different or similar to one another?

The looks of the girls aren't very different from one another—they're all the same age, they all go to the same school, they all have similar interests.

Brit and Candy are besties so I wanted them to have more of the feeling of best friends dressing alike. They're similar but it's different enough when they're together on screen so it doesn't look like they're wearing the same thing. It was all about making Brit and Candy as provocative as possible with it still making sense.

Faith is a little but more on the conservative side compared to the rest of the girls, although she's young and wears short shorts so she's not too conservative. But she's religious and has a strong faith in God and she's the more innocent one. She's wearing T-shirts with kittens and puppies on them, or little baby-doll shirts. I tried to make her look a bit more innocent and young, even though the girls are almost adults, Faith still feels a little bit young. She wasn't as worldly as the other girls.

I think Faith helped remind the audience that these were just teens. Or as Britney would put it: they're not girls, but not yet women.

It was all about taking that age of where before girls become adults. They're not kids, they're teenagers. Maybe they have women's bodies but they have the mind of teenagers.

For the record... was James Franco's character Alien based off of RiFF RaFF?

I will say he's one of the influences but he wasn't the main influence. He was definitely up on the inspiration wall, but so was Kevin Federline in his cornrow phase.

So who else influenced you?

Axl Rose when he was wearing those football jerseys and American flag spandex shorts, and Gary Oldman in True Romance. I think I subconsciously took inspiration from True Romance; Christian Slater's character wears that Hawaiian shirt. I also thought a lot about the type of people who live in beach towns and are criminals. Like, if you watch Dog the Bounty Hunter and check out those kinds of people from that show. And then modern hip hop culture and style and what's going on there.

Interestingly enough I did find a lot of inspiration for the whole film from Instagram! I would wake up in the morning and spend a half hour in bed trolling through Instagram and checking out different people's personal styles. That was fun because I learned a lot about brands I didn't know about. I found this guy Van Alpert, who did custom artwork on Vans shoes, and ended up doing custom shoes for the girls in the film. And that was all through Instagram.

How about Gucci Mane, did he bring his own gear?

He definitely brought his own jewelry because I couldn't afford to get real diamonds and he certainly wasn't going to wear fake ones.

The ATL Twins are so interesting looking, and the rumors surrounding them are crazy. What was it like creating their look?

They're sweethearts, I have a soft spot for them. In terms of wardrobes, they get so much free gear from brands because they Instagram it and will wear it and be photographed. They would come in and pick out the outfits they wanted to wear because they're super particular about what they wear. So they are essentially themselves. That's how they really dress and I didn't see any need to change that because it worked too well with what we were doing.

So, as a stylist, what are your thoughts on neon? Is it here to stay?

When I first started doing the script it was everywhere, so it was so easy for me! I just felt like, this is really a huge trend that's not going anywhere so I thought that this isn't going to become passé before the film comes out. It's definitely something that if it goes away for a time, it always comes back. Hopefully this film will help keep it around. It's fun and cool and happy!