Without its ethereal sherbet style palettes, Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides wouldn’t be the same fashion girl-worshipped film; without Kurt Cobain’s green mohair number, the cardigan may not be the same punk rock closet staple. The mastermind behind some of the most memorable movie and music video wardrobes is costume designer Nancy Steiner, who’s been outfitting rock stars and cinematic characters over the last thirty years.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Steiner got her start styling music videos in the ’90s, working with Nirvana, Bjork, No Doubt, the Smashing Pumpkins, David Bowie, and more MTV regulars before transitioning to the silver screen. In addition to the legendary Lisbon sisters, she’s dressed fictional folks for directors like Michel Gondry, Roman Coppola, Todd Haynes, and others. (The list goes on, trust.)
Fresh from dreaming up looks for David Lynch’s revival of cult-fave TV show Twin Peaks (landing next March on Showtime), Steiner shares with us her favorite spots in her hometown. Below, read on to find out how she got her stylish foot in the music world, her favorite LA getaways, where she shops these days, and more.
We know that you first dipped your toes into fashion at legendary boutique NaNa. What’s one of your favorite memories of LA at that time, style-related or otherwise?
Yes, I worked at NaNa from 1982 to 1985 and it was a very special time in LA. We were all into music and going to see shows. Punk hadn’t gone mainstream yet. You knew who was in the gang by how they looked, not like how anyone can buy “used”-looking clothing [today]. Back then we thrifted most of our clothes and then got your [Doc Martens], monkey boots, or biscuit boots at NaNa.
Your favorite little-known source for (fill in the blank) is:
[For art], The Lodge. It’s an amazing art gallery on Western Avenue founded by the fabulous Alice Lodge.
What’s LA’s most least-appreciated hidden gem?
There are so many hidden gems in LA, but I’ll have to say the mountains of
San Gabriel, Santa Monica, Verdugo Mountains, even Griffith Park. They all have amazing trails and you feel like you’re far away from the city but it’s all within 30 minutes away.
Top three favorite stores in LA right now?
Most underrated restaurant in your neighborhood?
The Park in Echo Park (1440 Sunset Blvd.) It’s a pretty non-descript place but the food is really good and well priced.
Favorite mini road trip from LA for relaxing and getting inspired?
For a quickie, I go to the desert: Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, or 29 Palms. When I have more time I go up to Big Sur & Monterey to visit friends.
If you could visit any other time period in la strictly for the fashion, to when would you time-travel?
I think the 1940s. Everything seemed so glamorous and I love the color palette of the ’40s.
When I was a teenager I used to only wear clothing from that period so I have a definite attachment to that time in terms of style.
You’ve dressed so many iconic film characters, but what’s your own LA style like?
I’m pretty low-key, I almost wear a uniform. Usually a button front shirt and blue or black jeans, Birkenstocks or my favorite Common Projects high tops.
The top three songs on your “driving-in-LA soundtrack” are:
So hard to distill down to three as there are so many, but: Elliot Smith’s “Between the Bars,” Brian Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire,” and Talking Heads’ “Cities.”
Favorite LA historical landmark and why?
Musso & Frank (6667 Hollywood Blvd.) is my favorite restaurant and the oldest one in Hollywood, opened in 1919. I’ve been going there since I was in my teens to have and it’s barely changed, I love it.