Grace Hanadarko from 'Saving Grace'
Yet Holly Hunter as Detective Grace Hanadarko in TNT's Saving Grace, which returns Tuesday, June 16, pulls it off.
"She is kind of iconoclastic," Hunter says, adding that her look is "a real impetuous expression of who she is. She's a cop, and she's a primitive. There are many things about Grace that are extraordinarily modern: the aspects to how she dresses, based on total spontaneity and impetuousness and things that feel very old and borrowed from different cultures.
"The fact that she is a quarter Choctaw Indian I wanted to exploit," Hunter continues. "Sometimes I wear seven pairs of earrings in my hair: fun, vibrant, gaudy earrings, just hang them in my braids and put ribbons in my braids and hang earrings off the ribbons. It's borrowed from different cultures, from hundreds of years ago, Indian cultures and Asian cultures. I wanted to hook back into that through her.
"In those ways she feels some of that is more primitive," she adds. "It speaks more of a pagan ritual when people were dressing gods and goddesses. I like her wardrobe to have some expressions like that, and Patia really gets that and will bring in endless strings of pearls for me to wrap around my waist in a sex scene."
Patia Prouty, the costumer collaborating with Hunter, describes Grace as "Janis Joplin meets Aphrodite."
Grace's look is "pretty eclectic," Prouty says. "I would describe her as a chameleon. She changes. She's soft, she's hard. I think she changes according to her moods, her purposes of what she is doing. Sometimes I will use something very, very hard on her, a T-shirt and studded belt. And other times a cardigan that looks like it's handmade by fairies."
"We stonewash them to make them even thinner," Prouty says. "If you break down the fabric a bit, you know your favorite old T-shirt you have had for 30 years? If you take it to the stonewasher, you can accomplish that in one day."
In addition to comfy T-shirts, Grace wears shoes that can go the distance: cowboy boots.
"It provides her a certain swagger, instant swagger," Prouty says.
"The balance with Grace's wildness sitting beside order, the nature of being a cop and the nature of being Grace live inside the same woman fairly peaceably," Hunter says. "She wears the job really well. And at the same time, to have the uncivilized aspect of Grace expressed through the clothing and the hair is crucial."