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Tag Archives: Mandi Line

TV Costume Designers and Impacting Fashion

19 Sep

TV Ate My Wardrobe isn’t surprised to read that TV costume designers are having an impact on fashion at the moment, as The New York Times proposes in an article today. This site was born out of an interest and passion for costuming on TV and while other avenues are explored on a daily basis this is still at the heart of what we do here. Costuming can aid the storytelling process, but we also look at trends on the runway that filter through to stores. What is featured in magazine editorials can impact what we see on screen, but as we have seen with shows like Sex and the City and Mad Men they can have just as much influence on style as the fashion houses themselves.

Olivia Pope leather gloves

One aspect this article from The New York Times discusses comes from Pretty Little Liars costume designer Mandi Line as she explains that in her interview she stated “If you let me make fashion the fifth character on this show, people will watch it just for the clothes.” This is something that can probably be said about a show like Gossip Girl which I have recently realized that I miss purely for the clothes. The way costuming can appeal can be dependent on the target demographic and with something like Pretty Little Liars Instagram reveals how fans of the show compare their clothes to the ones they see on screen. Costuming can help create buzz and a show like Scandal has benefited from these types of discussions, especially now that star Kerry Washington is covering major fashion magazines and landing on every best dressed list. Lyn Paolo has done an excellent job not only with Olivia Pope’s wardrobe, but with each character’s clearly defined look. In the pilot episode of Scandal the notion that they are “Gladiators in suits” was repeated and now both Olivia’s team and fans of the show use this moniker.

NG_Neighbors-Sc9_0017 The time between when a TV show is made and when it airs is often relatively short and so this immediacy means that the clothes we see on screen are still often in stores. While you might not be able to afford the Prada purse that Olivia Pope uses, the J Crew sweater that Jess wears on New Girl could be a more affordable option. Websites such as What Would Zooey Deschanel Wear? and its broader ranging sister site Worn on TV not only find where to buy the clothes you see on screen, but also cheaper similar looking alternatives.

Elementary costume designer Rebecca Hofherr talks about how “TV deals with realistic issues and more realistic clothing” as opposed to film which might deal with more fantastical subjects. While I’m not a proponent of any TV vs. film debates I think TV can have a bigger impact on personal tastes because shows air on a weekly basis and so we see style evolution over a period of time. Characters become familiar to us and so as viewers it can be easier to identify with them and their look. There’s also a variety so one week I might see Joan Watson wear a scarf I really like and another will have me adding an April Ludgate shirt to my always growing wish list. You can sample many different looks across many different shows.

banana-republic-mad-men

This also covers period costuming and as I’ve mentioned Mad Men has influenced fashion in a major way and costume designer Janie Bryant has managed to create a brand thanks to her excellent work on Mad Men. Bryant has developed pieces with Maidenform (also a client of Sterling Cooper), Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers. There is also a reality show on the way from Janie Bryant that will give aspiring designers a chance to show off their skills by recreating classic Hollywood film costumes and celebrity signature styles.  Having just finished watching the Masters of Sex pilot I can confirm that there was a high amount of sweater and coat envy; as the colder season approaches I’m sure this will have some impact on forthcoming purchases even though it is set in the mid 1950s.

It’s not surprising to read that Good Wife designer Daniel Lawson is developing a line of clothes for professional women, or that Lyn Paolo is contemplating a book that will include Scandal related tips. Eric Daman whose previous credits include Sex and the City and Gossip Girl is now the costume designer for The Carrie Diaries and one of his non-TV related projects is a prom collection for Charlotte Russe. Girls and Orange is the New Black’s Jenn Rogien is currently one of Gap’s “Styled By” experts producing a series of style tutorials. For these costume designers they are diversifying their work and using their expertise on projects that relate to the TV work that we are familiar with. We have seen what these designers can do on screen so we know where their strengths lie and so there is already implied trust that they can produce excellent work outside of the TV show they design for.

A costume designer isn’t there to simply make the characters look good or to sell clothes; they help add another layer to the storytelling process and can inform the viewer to certain characteristics without a single word being said.

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