“We Are Lady Parts” centers on an all-female Muslim punk band who are making music their way, building an audience, and balancing their personal life on and off stage.
Costume designer PC Williams designed each woman’s wardrobe to honor her relationship with her faith while also using costume to act as an avenue for cultural and self-expression.
The series, streaming on Peacock, follows five women— Amina (Anjana Vasan), the newly recruited lead guitarist; Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey), Lady Parts’ lead singer; Ayesha, (Juliette Motamed) Lady Parts’ drummer; Bisma (Faith Omole), the bass player, and Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse), the band’s manager.
“All of these women are second-generation migrants, like me; I was born in the U.K., but my roots are from Nigeria and Ghana. When I was thinking about these four women, for me, it was about really trying to understand who they were culturally and marrying that with a London vibe,” Williams says.
Four of the five band members wear some form of traditional Muslim head coverings. Williams brought on several Muslim women to her design team and undertook hours of research to accurately portray how style and religion operate side by side.
“A head covering is a head covering, now how you do that is totally up to you and I wanted to show that there’s no one way to do it. You can have diversity in a group of Muslim sisters,” Williams says.
Williams broke down each rocker’s signature style.
Amina has her sights set on finding a life partner and getting her Ph.D. in microbiology. But, when she joins the band, her plans change. Over time she finds a new comfort level in her identity. Amina is often found in pastel-colored hijabs and minimal makeup.
“Amina was one of those characters where when you start the project you have such a clear idea of what it is that you want to do. And then, as you get into the project, that idea keeps twisting and turning. And I think marrying her demure sensibility with this want, and sort of need, to break out of this mold and to lean into this new space that she was inhabiting, that felt great to her — that was like my biggest challenge, how do I make, how do I make cool costumes for a girl who loves A-line skirts and button-up blouses. And is now in a punk band.
“There’s the scene where Lady Parts is performing a Dolly Parton song and Amina’s still got her A-line, high-waisted skirt on, but she’s got this shirt with a horse print on it. And it’s the first time we really see her in dark colors, and it’s her version of leaning into what it means to be punk, but it’s still really sweet. It’s what she could be outside of what we usually see her in, which is pastels and heavily-embroidered two-piece sets.”
Bisma takes great pride in her heritage and often sports bright West African turbans and political t-shirts. She’s also the calmest member of the band. When she’s not in the band, Bisma spends time selling her art on her street stall.
“Bisma is Nigerian-British, she’s my sisters and me, and my cousins, and mother’s friends’ children — it’s a pride in African prints, but incorporating that in a way where it feels modern and has a Western vibe, but you still holding on to what’s true to your cultural identity.
“Her art plays a big part in who she is. The interior design of her apartment is a lot of upcycled, reclaimed furnishings and pieces. I wanted to bring that through to her wardrobe — about 90% of it is thrift shop finds with autumnal colors, macramé, and anything that feels Afro-centric.
“We used a lot of Omolola jewelry from a young Nigerian jeweler, and a lot of her jewelry is from around Africa or specific tribes in Nigeria using symbols that mean something to Nigerian culture.
“Bisma’s vibe is super vintage. Everything needs to feel like it’s had three lives before coming to her, but when it hits her, it makes sense.”
Ayesha is the band’s drummer. She’s also an Uber driver with road rage. For her outfits, she’d sport sparkly Middle Eastern abayas and drapey headscarves with dramatic eyeliner.
“Ayesha’s vibe is who Juliette is in real life. So rather than me designing the outfits, I took more of a curatorial approach to her design. I curated her wardrobe, and collaborating with her. I’d say, ‘Here, what do you think? What kind of looks would you make?’ So, we had an afternoon of just trying everything on.
“That to me, felt true to who she was because she would bring in a lot of herself in the character. I think sometimes when you’re doing a character who is so stylized it can feel a bit forced. I didn’t want that to happen so she was a big part of designing what she wore — dark colors, anime prints, heavy metal detailing, and slogan t-shirts from Aborigine brands.”
Momtaz is the core of the band. As the group’s manager, her goal is to turn them into a huge success.
“I wanted to make sure that a woman who wears a niqab could pick up one of the niqabs we designed and wear and feel like it fit the purpose. I didn’t want it to be like this weird fashion thing. Everything has to just feel natural. It couldn’t feel like the show was styled. I’m not going to try and change the niqab from what a niqab is; what I want to do is just give you variations of this while still keeping it modest and fitting the purpose of being covered while also allowing our actress, Lucie, to feel that she was also bringing something cool to the show. She has to spend these eight weeks covered and I can imagine that that’s quite a big thing to take on, especially when the girls are coming out in look after look. I think Ayesha had 37 looks in the whole show while we designed four niqabs for Momtaz.
“But it was really important to me that Lucie felt that some design, care, and consideration had been taken into her costumes, but that they still fit the purpose.”