Q&A with Yellowstone Costume Designer Johnetta Boone
Meet from Yellowstone costume designer Johnetta Boone and see how she creates the series’ iconic western looks.
There’s no denying Yellowstone captured viewers’ imaginations as an epic, action-packed family drama spotlighting the western way of life. But the style of the characters created a secondary buzz as The Yellowstone Look introduced a wider audience to Western fashion. Johnetta Boone, from Yellowstone costumer, is the brains behind each character’s wardrobe, ensuring that each piece provides insight into the character and the story. Find out how she got her start and what goes into creating a distinctive look for each cast member.
Cowboys and Indians: First of all, how did you start creating costumes?
Johnetta Boone: Fantasizing about the work of the greats in my early youthful years had my heart racing. It was when I landed my first assistant costumer job on bride on the run that has become a reality.
THIS: For Yellowstone, did you do any specific research to start with?
Bone: An incredible amount of research has been done both practically and specifically. I inherited the show in Season 2. With that in mind, a lot of the characters were already in place. I had a wonderful model to review and create my own.
THIS: How do you get the clothes? Are most of them vintage, new or from somewhere else?
Bone: With so many speaking characters and an even greater number of non-speaking characters, we source from rigs: vintage, new, and custom.
THIS: Do you have a favorite character to dress?
Bone: They actually have their own world which is based on their role on the show and what complements their physical makeup. We are also heavily dependent on the culture and world of ranch life. Authenticity is key. Taylor Sheridan is also incredible, nothing escapes her. He is our ultimate endorsement.
THIS: How do you balance or highlight each character’s look with their personality? For example, Rip wears so much black, but Beth wears a lot of floral dresses.
Bone: Rip’s costume selection is really based on the course of his life. He has a rather fragile past. The color would not play a role well for his character nor his position. Beth loves the use of flowers and how they soften her dynamic approach to solving problems that have been presented to her family’s legacy. Kelly [Reilly] has a whole collection of specialty pieces, which we also welcome to Beth’s closet. It’s a real balance that tailors each character to their personality, especially with so many of them. Everyone as in life wears their own. We can put everyone in the same shirt and jeans, everyone will have their own flavor that we will accentuate.
THIS: How do you find and find the Indigenous looks in the series, including for Monica, Mo and Chief Rainwater?
Bone: Great question, my preference is to go to the community. It’s important to keep Monica (Kelsey Asbille) connected to her tribe and culture. Many of its pieces come from local Aboriginal artisans. Even a few are hers, which she lends. It’s wonderful to be able to find unique items for the characters. It keeps it real, lived and practical, especially for Mo (Mo brings a lot). Chief Rainwater (Gil Birmingham), on the other hand, his look is completely suited to him. Her jewelry and special accessories like her lapel pins are vintage finds.
THIS: You’ve worked on so many amazing film projects, including the Notebook. Is your process the same for each project?
Bone: Thanks for noticing, yes. My approach is part of who I am. I bring it to every project. I dive deep, goggles and all. By adding these, I can dive deeper and see clearly.
THIS: How did you choose to do Yellowstone, and are there any other genres you would like to work on?
Bone: Yellowstone choose me. I inherited it. It was forwarded and then approved by Taylor Sheridan. I am delighted to have been chosen. In fact, we are chosen for all bodies of what we do. It is our duty to intervene, take the reins and guide the horse. There are a lot of other genres that I would love to work in, absolutely. I prefer to have a wide range of work. Fantasy, more westerns, futuristic, romance, comedy, spy thrillers like Bond and Borne, etc.
THIS: Do you sometimes hide clues in a character’s costume for viewers to look for?
Bone: Hidden clues, sometimes yes. They are treasures. It usually comes down to their accessories, patterns, color palettes. This allows viewers to watch closely. It seems to work, many of them don’t miss a beat.
Learn more about Johnetta’s process for curating a character’s look at Yellow stone.
Photography: (All images) courtesy of Chris Douglas Photography