Shoptalk with a Boardwalk Broad

Lisa Padovani is responsible for some of the most interesting wardrobe moments on the big and small screen: Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, Boardwalk Empire, among others. She’s definitely a lady you want as your shopping partner.  We hit Williamsburg’s vintage mecca Malin Landaeus which is an inspiration to such local style icons as stylist Marina Munoz and Tales of Endearment’s Natalie Joos and chatted about bad-ass blond actresses, the best resource for vintage and the soulful eyes of Michael Pitt, naturally.

Early Works

I studied at SUNY Purchase and began my career as a producer. Production people are jacks of all trades and I got in with the stylists when I was helping them make returns and that was my foot in the door.  As a kid I had a knack for sewing, I was really into reworking jeans but I had no real formal training. Since I studied the entire business of film-making I feel that helps me as a costume designer. I have a real feel for how the various elements work together and what is needed to ensure a cohesive vision. I’ve worked with Martin Scorsese (he directed the pilot of Boardwalk Empire) and I worked with him on I’m Not There. He’s fantastic in that he really cares about the clothes, he’ll look at fabric swatches and such and really give an opinion.  Working with someone like that is gratifying and totally makes the job worth it. Also if I want a project I really lobby for it, I go above and beyond, create a presentation, a whole world for the director to see so that he/she can’t say no.

Blond bombshells 

On Patricia Arquette- She is very shy but knows how to gracefully get her way. If we wanted a specific hat or accessory in a particular shot that was debatable she’d whisper to me, “They don’t want me to wear it but you’ll see I’ll rock it.” And she always did! She quietly controlled not just her wardrobe but her lines as well.

On Cate Blanchett- She’s a mother whose profession happens to be an actor. I remember walking into her trailer while working with her on I’m Not There and her boys were quite small then and they’d be in there with brooms sweeping the trailer floor around her. They rarely left her side and you got to love a mom who encourages men to clean up after themselves.

On Gretchen Mol- She is my very favorite actress to dress, she has a perfect body for vintage fashion. Modern actresses can be quite difficult to fit because of those damn yoga shoulders! She was also so fun because her character was so creepy we tried to go for a sort of Mrs. Havisham look.

Omar’s soft

Michael K. Williams who played Chalky is so great at playing a bad-ass but in reality he’s just a big shining beautiful man. He insisted on wearing suits we created for him to the Boardwalk Empire premieres. He was always so supportive of us. I just love him.

On saying good-bye to Jimmy

I’m a seasoned broad but his stare is pretty devastating. He would always ask to wear a black suit when he entered the wardrobe trailer. I never obliged.  He looked so good in blue!


When it comes to vintage resources, make like Parker Posy and head to the library. Vintage Vogues and Bazaars were a huge inspiration. We had someone down there downloading issues all the time. The Costume Institute at the Met was also extremely helpful.

She’s a Lelaina not a Vickie

90s Gap makes me gag. I hate those terrible small-collared, yet voluminous button-down shirts. Mom jeans are totally doable but only when you think of proportion. If you are going frumpy on the bottom wear a fitted cropped shirt on top. The key to any outfit is never to go too matchy-matchy. If you want to mix patterns then stay in the same color family but if you are dealing with solid colors then just think about tones. Overall, buy what you like, but think of proportion!


Lisa picked up a pair of amazing Joan and David slip-ons in white. These are a little more special than the ubiquitous slip-on sneak.

Designers that makes her happy

The fantasy of Prada makes me smile and I really love Tom Binns grown up punk vibe.

Williamsburg Shop Picks

Heritage By Martin Greenfield , Stella Dallas Vintage, Amarcord Vintage, Narnia


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