meet the maN behind the masks at the Tonight Show Starring jimmy Fallon
At first meeting Mario Martines he flashes an incredible smile you instantly feel at ease. He has that certain je ne c’est pas that makes you feel like old friends meeting up after several years of being apart. His gentle nature and honest eyes make him seem a bit shy and reserved, in a good way. His good taste and classic style is reflects in his character.
As the conversation grows I catch a sparkle in his eye — there’s a creative mind at work — always. He’s a visual person so we speak the same language instinctively, and dive in to a number of different topics, one after another, and he doesn’t miss a beat.
No stranger to the entertainment biz, Mario has been the head costume designer at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon since it's return to New York City in 2014 where he designs hundreds of sketches including Ew with guests Miley Cyrus, Arianna Grande, and Taylor Swift;
Tensions with Carol Burnett, Martin Short, Steve Martin and Oprah. He also creates the costumes for video parodies including Styx’s Too Much Time on my Hands with Paul Rudd and First Draft of Rock with Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick.
Before The Tonight Show, he was Assistant Costume Designer at Saturday Night Live for six years where he worked on costumes for many different SNL sketches.
He was head costume designer of Kath & Kim with Molly Shannon and Selma Blair.
Mario has styled NBC News and MSNBC Correspondents… Joy Reid, Richard Engle, Shiba Russell, Kasie Hunt, Chris Hayes, and Steve Kornacki.
Mario is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and worked as a designer in the fashion industry for ten years. He lives in NYC.
Other design credits include:
Mercy, Royal Pains, and Spin City
Two Weeks Notice, Glitter, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Safe.
Saturday Night Fever, Flower Drum Song, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and Minnelli on Minnelli.
“You are never fully dressed without a smile” — Charles Strouse
For me, it’s all about the excitement of the creative process — working with the writers to create a character, and the anticipation of seeing the designs become costumes that help bring the characters to life.
Behind the Scenes
When creating for a nightly show, every department, to mention a few — writers, hair and make-up, costumes, art department, and graphics work hand-in-hand to create the perfect storm to make the magic happen for The Tonight Show.
TROPICAL Tees & TAILs
Here I am with show writers John Haskell and Arthur Meyer dressed in tropical tuxedos and hand painted shirts for the sketch Two Fun Men.
As the writers come up with these outrageous ideas for sketches, I keep an image file in my head from my travels, and as the writers convey their ideas, my mind races through hundreds of images to find the perfect match, sort of like an online date! Ha!
I was inspired from a trip from years ago to Key West where I saw hand-painted, wing-tip tuxedo shirts, I dreamed of a day when I could use them in a costume. When the time came, I was trying to remember where I saw these wonderful shirts, and I was thrilled that my wonderful team tracked them down. We ordered them and embellished tuxedos with trim and flowers to complete the look.
Sketch for a sketchHere I am sketching out a design for a costume that may or may not come to life.
Delicious Design detailsFinal touches to the dress for Kyra Sedgwick wore for the First Draft of Rock, Peter, Paul & Mary sketch performing Blowin’ in Wind. Since the video was shot in black in white, part of the challenge was recreating the fabric to look like the original, so we had to use three different fabrics to create the pattern design of the dress. We essentially used a bouclé as the base, cut and appliquéd diamond shaped gold lorax fabric to make the pattern, and then used a third fabric cut into strips to be treated like ribbon to create the plaid image. Thank you Arel Studios for making this come to life!
Abba-cadabraI really liked creating all four costumes for the writer and performer, Becky Krause, in her brilliant parody of Abba’s Mama Mia. The sketch was shot of individual videos of her performing as each member of the band on green screen, and then was edited together. Shout out to our talented Director Chris Tartaro for pulling it all together.
Making Ew! AwesomeIt’s so much fun working on the EW sketch! I always try to keep the celebrity’s personality and energy in mind while creating these while also keeping in mind the juvenile essence of the sketch, so for Miley I found the perfect denim jumper and embellished it with a tiger and hearts appliqué paired with a cropped hot pink t-shirt. I accented the look with fun, bright-colored socks and shoes.
Just another day at the office.
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” — Khalil Gibran
There are so many things that have inspired me that I would never limit myself to naming one specific place, time or thing, however, I draw from my life experience and approach each project from a new perspective, allowing the outcome to flow organically.” — Mario
Vintage Hollywood fashion
My mom loved all the classic movies. As a child, the elegant clothing styles of the 30s, 40s, and 50s inspired me to dream, and I never thought that one day I would be working on one of the hottest TV shows.
Living in New York City, just walking down the street, or in the subway, I find so much style everywhere and it stimulates all of my senses. Museums always heighten my creativity. I find Washington Square Park at night magical, no matter what the season.
Inspired by nature
I feel so energized when I spend time at the beach, dusk is my favorite, the way the sun sparkles off the water, and the sea-foam of the crashing waves kisses the sand and retreats.
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© Mario Martines 2017
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Website Design & Portrait by Andrea LeHeup, SoleilNYC.com
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