How Did ‘SNL’ Pull Off Kamala Harris’ Victory Speech Outfit So Shortly?
On November 7, 2020, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris officially won the United States Presidency and Vice-Presidency. They gave an acceptance speech that evening in Wilmington, Delaware around 8:30 pm EST that night. Just a few states over in New York City, the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live, that bastion of weekly, live, and yes, topical sketch comedy, were throwing together elements of their show last minute, as huge pieces of news (i.e. a new president) required them to do. When they began airing around 11:30 pm EST (actually, a little delayed thanks to a football game), they got one thing exactly right: Harris’ all-white outfit, worn impeccably by Maya Rudolph. How on earth did they pull this off so fast? SNL‘s producer and costume designer Tom Broecker and wardrobe supervisor Dale Richards told POPSUGAR everything — and it truly shows just how down to the wire that program is put together.
“I had a member of my team working on each piece: the blouse, the jacket, and the pants,” began Richards. And while Harris herself had some top-of-the-line designer outfits to choose from for her speech, Broecker and Richards had, well, whatever was lying around. Broecker got into the nitty-gritty of the procedure:
“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. 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. Every store in the city had been closed for hours. There was no way to shop this look anywhere, except in our back rooms.
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.”
The two went on to say that they weren’t in contact with Harris at all. In fact, the original source of the blazer came from the exact opposite end of the political spectrum: It was meant to be worn by Cecily Strong doing a Melania Trump impression, before it was repurposed here. How on earth did they think to use it? Well, as Broecker put it, “We have the best people anywhere in the world.”
For more on SNL, here’s another wild moment from that episode.