Succession’s Costume Designer Explains Shiv’s Wedding Look and Kendall’s Chain

Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook
Graeme Hunter/HBO

It has been four days since Succession’s season three finale aired on HBO—and yet, the Internet is still buzzing about it. From the reunification of the Roy siblings to the line that will undoubtedly become an Instagram bio favorite (“Boo, souls!”), there are enough discussion topics from the episode’s final ten minutes alone to keep Twitter busy for another month.

Succession fans, much like Swifties, have been trained over the past three seasons to look into absolutely every detail projected onto their screen for an hour every Sunday. Nothing that makes it into the show is unintentional. And that’s why, among all of the chatter online, the discussion around the outfit choices of the past few episodes has risen to the top. Why is Shiv’s Italian wardrobe seemingly so out of character? Does Tom finally look good in a suit? And what is up with Kendall’s newest chain? Luckily, Michelle Matland, famed Succession costume designer, answered some of the web’s most burning questions so, hopefully, we can all start to move on with our lives.

The first thing to tackle was, of course, Siobhan. The only Roy daughter is known for her neutral tones and conservative pieces, her Steve Jobs-like ability to consistently make a turtleneck look fresh. This season, though, Shiv ditched her go-tos for power suits and blouses. Then, upon arriving in Italy for her mother’s wedding, Waystar’s president of domestic operations seemingly did a 180 with her wardrobe, showing more skin and wearing bright colors she previously avoided. The change caused quite an outrage online, but Matland insists it portrays a shift in the character’s journey.

Graeme Hunter/HBO

“Through her clothing, she is not-so-silently signaling her sexuality and frustration with her relationship to Tom,” Matland told W over e-mail. Shiv is constantly trying to feign confidence, while her insecurities continue to seep out, and her new style is simply an extension of that practice. “Her usual meticulous and understated fashion sense gives way to a more overt statement of unease through the use of deeper color tones and more revealing cuts.”

Shiv’s Italian dressing came to a head on the day of her mother’s wedding, when she arrived in white, a seemingly obvious act of defiance against the bride. “These details are laid out to express an almost comical discomfort as it is articulated in Shiv’s fabulously edgy wedding toast,” Matland explained. As for Shiv’s hotly debated accessory, her hat, well, that is simply a staple at many formal English weddings. Plus, it had a practical purpose. “Sarah [Snook’s] lovely fair skin and the incredible Tuscan summer sun played a very important role as well,” Matland said.

And just as Shiv’s sunburnt star begins to fall, her husband, Tom, starts to rise. For three seasons, Tom’s clothes never looked quite right, clinging awkwardly to his body as he stood next to the Roys in their immaculately tailored, custom pieces. As Tom gets that loaded pat on his shoulder from Logan at the end of the finale, though, there’s a sudden realization of, “Wait a second, this is the best I’ve seen Tom look...possibly ever.” Was it his beautiful light suit that finally seemed to fit him well, or the fact that he gained some much-needed confidence after finally standing up to Shiv and doing something for himself? According to Matland, it’s probably the latter.

“Tom always attempted to dress dapperly to compensate for his feelings of inadequacy toward his new family’s established wealth and stature,” she said. “Now, with his certified allegiance to Logan, he is finally secure and enjoying his new power in the Roy dynamics.” The final scene of the finale marks a career and personal high for Tom, Matland explains. “He is using this opportunity to shine and let the elite world know that he’s the man.”

Graeme Hunter/HBO

And finally, there’s Kendall Roy, played by Jeremy Strong, who has been in the spotlight recently—not only for his role as the (second) eldest of the Roy sons, but for his off-camera antics, which, according to Matland, extend to the wardrobe department.

“Jeremy is as heavily invested in his costumes and all of their nuances as we are,” she said. Just like with any other character on the show, Kendall’s clothes have been a topic of discussion all season. His Loro Piana baseball cap made quite the stir when its price was revealed on the Instagram account @successionfashion, but it was the necklace he is seen wearing in the final episodes of the show that really piqued fans’ interests.

The piece features an engraved golden square on a long, dark chain. Kendall is seen wearing the bling during his “nervous breakdown” of a 40th birthday party—and later, after his mishap with the pool float. It wasn’t long before the origins of the necklace were discovered. In fact, it isn’t just a necklace, but a work of art, created by contemporary artist, Rashid Johnson in collaboration with LIZWORKS, as part of the very fitting “Anxious Man” series. Matland describes the necklace as “a talisman” for the downtrodden son. “It becomes a source of Kendall’s much-needed mystical strength,” she said. “It is why he wears it throughout, almost like a shield of armor and identity.” Sounds like right now, Strong could use a necklace of his own. Luckily, he already has one, with his daughters’ names and birthdays engraved on the back. Just another blur in the line between Jeremy and Kendall.

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