Exploring the Deeper Meaning Behind Grace Fraser's Lavish Coats on The Undoing
The Undoing always leaves me craving more than just one episode each Sunday — and not only because I desperately need to know who the hell killed Elena Alves. I quickly became entranced by Grace Fraser's wardrobe, which predominantly features lavish winter coats so long, they appear to be stowing away deep, dark secrets as she scurries across various Upper East Side crosswalks. (If you watch the HBO series, you know how often these crosswalk scurries happen.) We meet Grace, portrayed by Nicole Kidman, wearing one of said coats in the very first episode. As soon as I laid eyes on the sumptuous red number, I needed to know every last detail about the character's enviable outerwear collection, so I went straight to the source and chatted with The Undoing's costume designer, Signe Sejlund.
"I wanted her to be able to walk around New York and stand out and blend in at the same time."
Based in Copenhagen, Signe told me that her vision for Grace's style was hinged on two somewhat contradictory ideas. "I wanted her to be able to walk around New York and stand out and blend in at the same time," she said, the latter of which is certainly more ideal for someone entangled in a gruesome murder case like Grace is.
Signe decided to attribute to Grace her distinct, '70s-inspired bohemian style because it's something "completely new" for fans to see Nicole wearing on screen. Contrasting Celeste Wright's neutral ensembles on Big Little Lies, Grace rotates through a handful of lush, jewel-toned coats purposefully chosen to complement her bouncy red hair and fair skin tone. The rich jewel tones are also meant to remind viewers of Grace's disposition. "The colors are warm, and it tells you she's a warm person compared to Franklin, [who wears] more grays and blues, so [his wardrobe has a] colder tone to it," the Danish costume designer explained, referencing Grace's father.
Signe also gave much thought to the sweeping length of Grace's coats before hand-selecting each one. "When you do a show like this, it has to be quite cinematic. And I think that's what you get from a coat that has such a volume and such length," she said. Seeing as Nicole is quite tall — 5'11", to be exact — making those wardrobe moments feel visually dramatic meant altering some pieces to be longer and, yes, even designing Grace's famed green coat from scratch herself.
Curious to learn more details about Grace's coats on The Undoing, including how much that green hooded number weighs? Read ahead for the inside scoop on each one.
Grace's Furry Red Coat on The Undoing
The first coat Grace debuts on The Undoing is this red furry-looking number by Max Mara. Signe was drawn to the plush material and wound up purchasing a handful of the coats so she could sew extra fabric on the bottom to make it longer and wider.
It ties at the waist, as seen above.
In this photo, you can really see that extra material sewn onto the bottom — but you'd probably never guess it didn't originally come like that, right?
Here's Grace doing one of her many walks in the Upper East Side.
I mean, of course someone with this posh of a wardrobe sends their son to The Reardon School.
Grace's Green Coat on The Undoing
Don't be fooled by the product listings online claiming to sell this coat — it's truly one-of-a-kind and the brainchild of Signe. She had her sights set on a coat that could hail from fairy tales without being too fashionable, but after failing to track down one that perfectly fit her vision, she got to work with designing it on her own.
The material — a similar faux fur to the aforementioned Max Mara piece — almost appears to have a zebra-print-esque pattern, and you can practically feel how soft it is just by looking at it. Seeing as the fabric was rather thick and "not meant to make a coat out of," Signe had to bring on a professional tailor to make her sketches a reality.
Although Grace never wears it, the coat has a large hood, which gives it a witchy vibe of sorts. The Sanderson sisters have nothin' on Grace Fraser.
The skirt of the coat is quite full, which makes for some eye-catching moments as Grace power walks through Manhattan. Here she carries it with a brown suede Métier London purse.
Remember how I mentioned that the green material is thick? Get this: in total, the coat weighs a whopping 15 pounds, Signe estimated. "You can almost see how heavy it is when she walks around," she said.
Although Grace mostly has the coat all buttoned up during the miniseries, here we see it draped open and worn over a patterned blouse.
The coat has become quite the point of contention among fans of the show. While some are mesmerized by the plush material and long to curl up in it all winter long, others are repelled by its moss-like hue. I'm personally in the former camp.
Grace's Black-and-White Plaid Coat on The Undoing
Signe took a break from Grace's usual jewel-toned color scheme while selecting the black-and-white piece she wears at her family's beach house. "I imagined that coat was something that lived in that house. In your summer house, you have things that just live there," she recalled, adding that it was made by a Danish designer and she brought it from Copenhagen for the show.
Grace wears the checked coat with a cozy, neutral turtleneck by Max Mara to stay warm by the chilly waters.
Grace's Red Wool Coat on The Undoing
This tailored burgundy number is a 3.1 Phillip Lim design that features four large buttons, pockets, and a belt. Don't get your hopes up too much for copying this look, though, because it's unfortunately sold out.
Here she wears the belt tied at the waist and layered over a blush-pink snake-textured blouse by Reiss.
Signe said she chose this Reiss blouse and other similar tops because Grace "protects herself" with her clothes. "She's always wearing shirts that are quite closed and with a high neck," she explained, adding that she felt it was necessary for her portrayal as a therapist.
Is it just me, or could this totally serve as a 3.1 Phillip Lim advertisement? It definitely makes me crave that coat!
Grace's Teal Coat on The Undoing
This long teal trench is another design by — yep, you guessed it! — Max Mara. In this scene with Jonathan, Grace wears it layered over a sparkly striped turtleneck by A.L.C. and a red faux-leather pencil skirt.
I personally love how the teal color complements her hair color.
Grace's Floral Trench Coat on The Undoing
This gorgeous embroidered Etro trench stands out among the sea of darker coats in Grace's collection. She wears it while heading to the court in episode five, likely to give off an air of innocence.
She pairs it with a tan suede skirt, silky blush Vince blouse with a mock neck, and another suede bag by Métier London.
Sure, this one's a wild card for Grace considering the rest of her coats, but damn, do I love it.