Crafting the Perfect Greek Getaway Wardrobe for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3
An exclusive Q&A with costume designer Timothy A. Wonsik
In My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, writer, director, and star Nia Vardalos brings the beloved Portokalos family of the first two films from their Chicago home to Greece for the adventure of their lives. The moment the gang, from Toula (Vardalos) to Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin), land in their homeland, they embrace their Greek surroundings, donning a whole new set of clothes.
Costume designer Timothy A. Wonsik was tasked with curating a wardrobe that could capture the feel of being in Greece. Brought into the project by Academy Award®-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood—who served as a consultant to the film—Wonsik juggled both practical considerations (like Greece’s hot weather) and thematic concerns to let the characters shine in their new adventure.
We spoke with Wonsik about capturing the spirit of Greece in his costumes and appreciating the film’s universal appeal.
How did you get involved in designing the costumes for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3?
I do a lot of work with Colleen Atwood, who knows the people from the production. When they suddenly needed a new costume designer, Colleen asked me to do the movie with her. She could consult but wouldn't be able to be on set. Except for a short time at the start of production when she came to Greece, I would design and she would collaborate by phone.
I started eight days before we started shooting. It was a real scramble to shop and get four containers of costumes ready to ship to Greece, as well as unpack them and prep them for fittings.
What was the creative direction for the costumes?
It was a real collaboration. The most important direction from the director was just to make the clothes look beautiful. In some ways, this a real evolution from the costumes in the earlier films, whose fashion was representative of their times. For this one, I tried to use classic, timeless silhouettes and colors that reflected the cities and landscapes of Greece. We looked towards washed-out salmon and terracotta colors as well as blue, blue-gray, and seafoam hues that reflected the water. I really wanted to pick up the colors one sees in Greece.
Overall, the designs resulted from a collaboration between myself, the actors, and the director. We would do a series of fittings and send images to Nia who would comment on what she liked. If I mentioned that the actor during the fitting felt that there might be a better choice, Nia would normally agree, and we would adjust the costume. It was a real collaboration.
Did the costuming in the other films influence how you approached the clothes in this film?
Not really. In the other films, the characters were generally in the States and their look reflects that. When they arrive in Greece…their clothing represents the climate and feel of Greece. Greece is a warm, humid environment. Fabrics need to be linen, silk, or cotton. One of our first goals was to create clothes that let the actors be comfortable in the heat. During fittings, actors would occasionally say, "God, I'm so hot. Can we do something different?" I would talk to Nia and we would come up with something to accommodate them because there were days when it was 100 degrees and humid. We wanted the clothes to help the actors get into character, but we also wanted them to make sense in terms of where we were and what the weather was like.
This is the third of the Big Fat Greek Wedding films. What makes these characters and their story so enduring?
When I saw the first one, I laughed so hard, thinking, “This could be my family.” Everyone has a father or mother or aunt like the ones in the film. It didn’t matter if you were Greek or not, I think that everybody related to the story. 20 years later, the same actors are back. They know exactly who their characters are and they perform them brilliantly.
What would you like people to take away from the film?
It's such a feel-good movie. I think it's time for a feel-good film like this.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.