Pressing Questions

The Gilt MAN Q&A: Paul Feig

Chatting with the defender of female comedies and style on set.

"You’re the captain so you ought to look like the captain."

Along with his frequent collaborator Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, creator of Freaks & Geeks, and director of Bridesmaids, is one of the leading architects of the modern comedy. That’s all well and good, but what interests us is his Savile Row-inspired never-not-wearing-a-three-piece style. The award season’s kicking into gear—and we’ve got a slew of great suits and Pierrepont Hicks ties on sale on Gilt MAN—so we called Feig in LA to talk about his the best movies of the year, funny females and the power of a good suit.

How’d you get in the habit of always wearing a suit and tie on set?
It’s something I started doing about 10 years ago, right after Freaks & Geeks. I always used to wear suits and ties when I was little. I just liked it. Groucho Marx was one of my heroes and when I was 10 I read this biography about him and he had this thing that he always dressed up and looked down on people who didn’t. That was the moment I thought, hey I should do that too, and got into GQ and men’s fashion in general. My mom took me to the fancy mall and got me a three-piece Pierre Cardin suit—that really pissed off my dad. I was 10, so, clearly I was going to grow out of it.

In the good old days, a director wore a suit. Fellini, Cassavetes even, Kubrick… It’s a good legacy to uphold.
A few factors went into it for me. I would see those pictures of old Hollywood—early Kubrick, Howard Hawks, all my heroes—and those guys all wore suits. I liked the look of that. I thought it looked like a workplace. My dad owned an Army Surplus store when I was growing up and he wore a suit and tie to work every day. It kinda got drilled into my head that way.

It changes your whole mode, and people respond differently to you.
It’s a respect issue. I’ve worked my whole life to get into the business and so if I have the honor of working here, I should show respect to the job and the people I’m working with. You’re the captain so you ought to look like the captain. And, you know, selfishly I just always felt really comfortable in a suit and tie.

Feig and Apatow at the premiere of Bridesmaids

Do people in Hollywood wear suits anymore? Like, “the suits”?
Well, there was this time—right after Freaks, when I was going around pitching my next projects—when everyone in charge wore suits and ties. They were called “suits” derogatorily. I’d have these meetings, and they’d always sit you on this low couch, it used to drive me crazy. All the execs would sit up high. You’re in your t-shirt and gym shoes—it was so evident that you’re the artist and they are in charge. I was like, fuck this, I’m going to dress like them. But, immediately after that, the entire industry decided it was going to be Casual Friday. But I didn’t backslide—I was like, look, I’m an adult, why am I still dressing like a kid?

Whose suits are you wearing these days?
Off the rack, Ralph Lauren—especially Black Label and Purple Label stuff. Love Tom Ford. But, sadly, recently I got into the money-draining fever of bespoke suits. I got my first one at Anderson and Sheppard—a three-piece. And this is how bad it’s gotten: I’m flying to New York tomorrow to do a fitting with this guy from this new house Thom Sweeney. I discovered them this summer while I was in London working a project. They kind of embrace a classic 50s-60s design. I’m flying in because I did my first fitting in London and then I haven’t been able to get back. It’s driving me crazy. So I’m literally coming in to get a second fitting on my suit.

What is the most stylish thing you’ve seen this year?
I like a classic style and The Artist is obviously my look. But, I have to say, my new favorite style is Boardwalk Empire. I’m a big sucker for a lapel vest and that is the home of it.

During the release of Bridesmaids, a friend of mine sent around an email rallying women to go see the movie, lest Hollywood never make another female-oriented comedy. And it became this sensation. Were you aware of any of that?
I was, I was. That was awesome. I definitely felt the pressure when I was making it. I thought, if I fuck this up, it is going to be the nail in the coffin for comedies starring women for a while. Because the town, they like to point over there and say, “see, they tried it and it didn’t work.” And then, over the years, when Judd [Apatow] got such a bad rap for his female characters (which is totally undeserved), part of me was like, hey, I wanna do this to help rehabilitate his image in some way. I was really happy when that stuff started going around. It was just so heartening that it happened. If it hadn’t, they would have been using it as an example as why we can’t make comedies starring women.

Oyster, anyone?

Freaks & Geeks, which you created, was the show that launched a thousand careers. But, more important, it was the time when you taught Franco everything he knows about style.
I wish. I might have brought a specific thing to him. But actually I was kind of a slob back then. I was so in tune with being a teenager I started dressing like one. But, yeah, it was really the best of times.

Suit Up, on sale now on Gilt MAN.

Pierrepont Hicks, on sale now on Gilt MAN.

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