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‘& Juliet’ costume designer reveals the challenge of making clothes right for Shakespeare and Max Martin

Designer Paloma Young has earned her third Tony Award nomination for her work on the musical.

(L to R) Lorna Courtney, Betsy Wolfe, Justin David Sullivan and Melanie La Barrie in “& Juliet“ (Credit: Matthew Murphy)

A Tony winner for “Peter and the Starcatcher,” costume designer Paloma Young has been nominated for her work on this season’s “& Juliet.”

In the latest “Building Broadway” segment on “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” Beth Stevens talks to the costume designer about her inspiration and process for constructing the old-world meets new-age garments.

Young encountered a unique set of challenges with bringing the “& Juliet” designs to life. Young knew early on in the process that although the musical is set in the era of Shakespeare, straight period clothes were out of the picture for this jukebox musical set to the pop hits of the late ’90s and early aughts. Not only was she combining Shakespeare with modern pop culture, she also had to contend with Jennifer Weber’s athletic choreography.

In creating her concept, Young said, “We did want it to feel like anyone who ever has ever had any experience with a Shakespeare show would get something that they expected, but in an unexpected way.”

To achieve the looks, Young fused traditional Shakespearean elements with 1990s and 2000s streetwear. Many of the costume pieces were built from scratch within a “candy color palette,” as Young described. Then the garments were treated to look old and worn.

For that, Young said she assembled a team of breakdown artists, as they are called. Their job was to distress the costumes. But that was a tough task, especially when it came to wearing down the athletic wear because the sturdiness of those fabrics, which are meant to withstand daily physical activity, presented a challenge.

“In some ways, Nike and Adidas were the bane of my existence ’cause they made their clothes too well,” Young laughed.

Still, Young said that it’s been a fun challenge to figure out the broken-in look of the musical.

“We want these costumes to look like they’re being maintained by a scrappy troupe of actors,” Young said. “The concept of our design only improves the more that these costumes get repaired, broken down and repaired.”

The most recent episode of “The Broadway Show” also features a sit-down interview with Tony nominee Victoria Clark. Charlie Cooper walks Tony nominee Justin Cooley to work at “Kimberly Akimbo.” The episode includes moments from the 2023 WP Theater Gala red carpet. Several Tony nominees share their secret talents and how they believe their names could be mispronounced at this year’s ceremony. Paul Wontorek chats with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star and Broadway alum Peppermint, who is returning to the stage in Los Angeles in the new musical “Transparent.” In the latest segment of “Perry’s on the Town,” Perry Sook visits the Drama Book Shop.