Fashion’s nostalgia for the ’90s has reached a fever pitch in recent years, but the world has changed several times over since we experienced that decade the first time around. That’s why the Pamela Anderson that we see in the new Hulu miniseries Pam & Tommy just hits different—and not simply because of Lily James’s breathtaking disappearance into her character.
How differently the infamous unauthorized sex tape by Anderson and then husband Tommy Lee would be received in today’s post–Me Too world. How differently Hollywood’s gaze would have treated her—not as the bombshell bimbo, but as a complicated woman trying to make her way in the world. All these considerations and more were carefully integrated through Pam & Tommy’s costuming, helmed by the talented Kameron Lennox.
We give Lennox a call to learn more about what went into this production—and why she thinks Pamela Anderson continues to be one of the ’90s most enduring style icons.
’90s Pam Anderson! There is so much material to work with here. Did you try to copy certain looks, or did you take certain creative freedoms?
There are some iconic, historic moments that we re-created exactly as they happened. I thought it was really important we did that. For example, the Baywatch stuff—we had to nail it. There were a few little things we had to switch around on that red bathing suit, like the patch is a little different for legal reasons, but otherwise, the cut had to fit Lily James’s body the same as Pam’s body. Then, there was the deposition scene, where she had to dress for court. It was this skirt suit but worn in a very Pam way. It wasn’t super short, but it wasn’t long. We re-created that look.
Related article: What To Know About Hulu’s ‘Pam & Tommy’
There are also some amazing latex pieces in Pam & Tommy.
We reached out to the company that made the originals, Syren Latex on the east side of L.A. They still had the original patterns that Pam wore back then, so we had them made in every different color and variation to fit Lily. The interesting thing about working with latex and rubber is that it tends to get dusty and powdery, so it comes with this lube-type stuff that you apply and reapply to bring out the shine. We were constantly on set to shine her up and make her glisten in those scenes. And normally you would squeeze a latex dress over your head and pull it up, but because of the prosthetic breasts Lily wears in the film, we built a zipper into the backs of the pieces.
Between Pamela’s figure and Tommy’s privates, it sounds like this was one heck of a project for prostheses.
We had an incredible prosthetics team on this job. Lily’s prosthetics were often altered to fit a certain way or to work with a certain outfit. There was a lot of discussion! The G-string thongs we made for Sebastian’s character [Tommy Lee], we made them to measurements, but those were taken before the prosthetic was finished. We were getting ready to shoot, and the prosthetic ended up being much bigger than the thongs we had made. We had to do an emergency last-minute cut and sew. Luckily, we had a really good set crew.
Working in L.A. must have been perfect for this. I imagine the vintage stores have so much good, relevant stuff from Hollywood in the ’90s, when the events of Pam & Tommy take place.
Pam wore a lot of Alaïa, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, and Vivienne Westwood. I did a lot of deep diving to find out what Pam was wearing at the time, and I was able to source a lot of the pieces from various vintage dealers. There’s a white dress with ruffles and pink flowers from Vivienne Westwood that I found at Replika Vintage. It’s kind of incredible how much you can find if you know where to look. A lot of the vintage dealers also sell on Etsy and eBay. Vintage dealers tend to have their own unique eye, and it’s just a matter of understanding which dealers have what you’re looking for. Pam’s publicist in our show wears a lot of Escada, and we sourced a lot of that from Recess on La Brea. Another great one we used was The Kit Vintage on Beverly. If you know what you’re looking for, you can usually find it.
Pamela Anderson didn’t wear a lot of jewelry in the ’90s, and that is reflected in the show. Why do you think that was?
She had a real understanding of her body, and it’s almost like jewelry would distract from it. When she wore clothing, it wasn’t about how clothing would change the way she looked; it was how clothes would accentuate what she already has and who she is.
People remember the later Pam Anderson moments, such as the furry hat and dramatic red-carpet statements, which all occur well after the events we see in Pam & Tommy. The actual “’90s Pam” was almost minimal in a way.
She wore minimal pieces in every sense of the word. She was incredibly smart how she wore her clothing. She really knew what she was doing. Nothing was belted, nothing was overdone. It was this idea of just throwing something on. Maybe it was just the perfect slipdress, or maybe it was jean shorts and a T-shirt. She makes shorts and a T-shirt incredibly sexy.
What was it like to work with Lily James on this character?
She truly embodied that character. Every actress is different, but she really enjoyed being hands-on and collaborating on the costume decisions. She’s so open and lovely, and would always take my texts and calls, even on the weekends. A role like this also really requires everybody to be on the same page. You have to discuss everything, especially with the actor portraying a real-life person. A costume can take them out of their role if it isn’t right. Lily was very involved, and it was really nice to work together to get that clarity.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US