‘SNL’ Costume Designer Reveals How Maya Rudolph’s Kamala Harris Pantsuit Was Made So Fast

When a presidential election ends the same night Saturday Night Live is airing, you know the episode is going to be good. And that’s just what happened on Saturday, Nov. 7, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were projected to be the winners of the 2020 presidential election.

After a long, grueling election week, the running mates were giving victory speeches by 8:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 7, which meant SNL only had about three hours to get Jim Carrey and Maya Rudolph—who play Biden and Harris in the sketch series, respectively—in costume. And oh boy, did they nail it.

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris (left) and actress Maya Rudolph (right) | Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images/Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris (left) and actress Maya Rudolph (right) | Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images/Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

‘SNL’ recreated Kamala Harris’ white pantsuit for Maya Rudolph in 85 minutes

The episode began with the “Biden Victory” cold open, which featured Carrey in his classic Biden aviators and suit and Rudolph in a white pantsuit and cream-colored pussy-bow blouse that was wildly similar to Harris’ victory ensemble.

The internet was blown away by the show’s quick turnaround, but SNL producer and costume designer Tom Broecker told POPSUGAR that the Emmy-winning sketch show is the only show that could deliver like that. And unsurprisingly, he said it was a massive team effort between wardrobe supervisor Dale Richards and the rest of the costume department.

“I had a member of my team working on each piece: the blouse, the jacket, and the pants,” Broecker told POPSUGAR. “My assistant started capturing screen grabs of everything [Harris] was wearing so we could get all the details right—the shoes, the jewelry, the hair, makeup, blouse, and the suit.”

In case you doubted how quickly the show can leap to action, Broecker said his team had a game plan for Rudolph’s look ready just 30 minutes after the Vice President-elect took the stage in Delaware.

“By 9 p.m. we had pulled all the ‘research’ photos together and started looking through our stock to see if there was anything that could work,” he said. “Every store in the city had been closed for hours. There was no way to shop this look anywhere, except in our back rooms.”

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‘SNL’ employed an unused costume to make Maya Rudolph’s Kamala Harris victory pantsuit

The producer also admitted he was equally impressed at how quickly and expertly they were able to recreate the Carolina Herrera suit, but he wasn’t surprised. And funnily enough, they ended up using a suit that was originally intended for Cecily Strong to wear in a Melania Trump sketch. It was never used.

Here’s the breakdown of how the suit was made:

“A box of cream charmeuse fabric was found to make the blouse, and then a cream double-breasted suit was found that could be completely recut and altered to make the suit work. It would require an incredible amount of work to recut a double-breasted suit into a single-breasted suit, but I work with the most incredible tailors in the world. They put the jacket on Maya’s mannequin form in the office and went to work, just like in the movie Cinderella. Eighty minutes later, and four tailors exhausted, Maya did a fitting. It was perfect and she was ready to go to the stage. As she was leaving her dressing room, I realized she didn’t have her flag pin on her lapel. Her dresser went running into the wardrobe room to get her flag pin. I will say this: nowhere else in the world could this happen.”

“I believe fashion is always incredibly important in helping an actor play a character,” Broecker continued. “Whether that character be a real person or an ‘invented’ character, that actor must rely on costume to help them define their character . . . [it’s] an impossible task for any other place other than Saturday Night Live. We have the best people anywhere in the world.”

Broecker was sure to tell POPSUGAR his team had no previous communication with Harris’ team, which of course could have helped them have a suit ready long before the show went live.

“Even if we had a contact in Kamala’s camp,” he said, “by the time they told us who designed it, the stores would be closed and it would be way too late to source it.”

It was just that good old television magic.