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19 Jan

Stranger Things, The Crown, The Assassination Of Gianni Versace—Why Is The Best Fashion On TV From a Bygone Era?

stranger-things

Last week, I watched an episode of The Bachelor (maybe “hate-watched” is a better term), but the most shocking thing I saw wasn’t Annaliese’s meltdown over a “traumatic bumper car experience” she had as a kid. It was the fashion. On his first date with another girl, Becca, Arie (the bachelor in question) surprises her with a private fitting with Rachel Zoe. The stylist turned designer makes a brief cameo and helps Becca try on a dozen glittering, ’70s-inspired gowns—and at the end, Arie announces that she gets to keep them all. Later on, he pulls a giant box out of nowhere and reveals a pair of studded, sparkly, five-inch Christian Louboutin heels. At dinner, he tells her to keep the diamond earrings he “borrowed” from Neil Lane. And they say money can’t buy love!

The pile of designer gifts had nothing to do with the plot, of course, but it felt new for The Bachelor. (My theory is that the producers are trying to align these young women with fashion brands early, since most of them go on to become “style influencers” after the show.) But I was mostly struck by the flashiness, the labels, and how none of it felt relevant to 2018 fashion at all. The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have a combined 35 seasons between them; they’re among the most popular shows ever. Wouldn’t you expect them to have at least a basic understanding of what’s going on in fashion?

Apparently not. I’d go so far as to say that most of the clothes you see on TV don’t reflect modern fashion at all today. For starters, the era of “fashion TV” is over, aside from reality shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model, but even those series have kind of jumped the shark. When Christian Siriano won Project Runway in the mid-’00s, fashion was all about glamour, red carpet gowns, and over-the-top runway shows; needless to say, it’s gotten a lot more casual since then. Girls are investing in hoodies, not party dresses, and designers are staging their shows on dead-end streets. More importantly, fashion has become a lot more accessible. Back in the early ’90s, House of Style and Fashion File were premised on giving you an insider’s view of the industry; they took you behind the scenes of Stephen Sprouse’s new collection and showed you Naomi Campbell’s beauty routine long before you could find those stories online. But in 2018, the best way to discover what people are wearing or what’s happening at Fashion Week is on Instagram, not TV.

The Crown
 / Photo: Courtesy of Netflix
The Crown / Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

The exception, of course, is if you want to see fashion from another period entirely, whether it’s the ’80s or the 1800s. Many of the best TV shows right now are set in bygone eras: Victoria starts in 1837; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is in the ’50s; season two of The Crown takes place in the ’60s; GLOW and Stranger Things are both set in the ’80s; and tonight, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story will re-create the late ’90s. You can’t talk about any of these shows without also talking about the clothes; maybe your friends are obsessed with Nancy’s cute style on Stranger Things, or they’re fascinated by the costumes in Victoria. The fashion industry has been particularly curious about The Assassination of Gianni Versace and how it will pay homage to the designer’s iconic, highly influential collections. (If you want a preview, Vogue’s Laird Borrelli-Persson recently digitized Gianni’s final shows.) Turns out, since the house wasn’t involved in the making of the series (and spoke out twice against the book it’s based on), the costume designers didn’t have the luxury of borrowing from the archives; instead, they tracked down original ’90s pieces in consignment shops or made realistic copies.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace
 / Photo: Courtesy of Pari Dukovic / FX
The Assassination of Gianni Versace / Photo: Courtesy of Pari Dukovic / FX

While the plot revolves more around Gianni’s murder than his fashion influence, Assassination is coming at a time when ’90s fever is at an all-time high. Nostalgia is the driving force behind all of these shows, so it’s little wonder they’ve produced the best clothing; we’ve written at length about fashion’s obsession with the past, and if you’re searching for sartorial inspiration, you’re going to find it in The Crown, not Master of None. In fact, the only place you really see “right now” fashion is on E!’s red carpet coverage, and yet, it’s never felt more disconnected from the clothes we actually wear. Maybe the real problem is that fashion today is made up of two extremes: You’re either a celebrity wearing couture at an awards show (or on Instagram) or you’re a “real person” wearing athleisure. Where’s the in between? Maybe that goes back to these nostalgic TV shows, too. Nicolas Ghesquière showed a Stranger Things T-shirt in his recent Louis Vuitton show, which felt like a clever styling trick at the time, but it might just sum up how most women relate to fashion right now—and where they find their inspiration.

he Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
 / Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
he Marvelous Mrs. Maisel / Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

The exception, of course, is if you want to see fashion from another period entirely, whether it’s the ’80s or the 1800s. Many of the best TV shows right now are set in bygone eras: Victoria starts in 1837; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is in the ’50s; season two of The Crown takes place in the ’60s; GLOW and Stranger Things are both set in the ’80s; and tonight, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story will re-create the late ’90s. You can’t talk about any of these shows without also talking about the clothes; maybe your friends are obsessed with Nancy’s cute style on Stranger Things, or they’re fascinated by the costumes in Victoria. The fashion industry has been particularly curious about The Assassination of Gianni Versace and how it will pay homage to the designer’s iconic, highly influential collections. (If you want a preview, Vogue’s Laird Borrelli-Persson recently digitized Gianni’s final shows.) Turns out, since the house wasn’t involved in the making of the series (and spoke out twice against the book it’s based on), the costume designers didn’t have the luxury of borrowing from the archives; instead, they tracked down original ’90s pieces in consignment shops or made realistic copies.

From Vogue

Hannah Kim
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