The ice crystal decor and Yeti-tinis, the all-white party looks, Wednesday Addams’ gloriously goth black ruffled Alaia party dress and that dance to “Goo Goo Muck” by The Cramps…
“Woe What a Night” was the most stylish episode of streaming television in a year full of them, as shows like “Wednesday,” “The White Lotus,” “Euphoria,” and “Stranger Things” made costume designers the influencers of 2022. Their work sent online searches skyrocketing for Portia outfits, House of Sunny sweater vests, Prada lace-ups, face crystals and more, and set trends at all levels of the market.
Four time Oscar-winning costume legend Colleen Atwood, who is behind all of Tim Burton’s films, designed “Wednesday,” which made history as Netflix’s second most-watched English language show, being viewed by an estimated 150 million households, according to the streamer.
It’s already making its mark on fashion, too, with the hashtag #wednesdayoutfits racking up 2.3 million views on TikTok, as users post their own hacks of Jenna Ortega’s black prom dress, curate black-and-white “Wednesday”-inspired hauls from Shein, engage in Enid Sinclair cosplay and more.
Since its premiere the show has generated $180.5 million in media impact value, according to Launchmetrics. The top-mentioned brand alongside the show has been Prada, which gained the spotlight because Wednesday wears Prada Monolith lace-ups as her school shoes, garnering $1.4 million in media impact value. Being featured in the viral dance scene garnered Alaia $1.1 million in media impact value.
“Well, maybe they’ll give me a discount,” said Atwood, who bought the Alaia dress at the brand’s New Bond Street boutique in London, laughing as she heard the figures.
A costume designer for four decades, Atwood created Hannibal Lecter’s mask, “Ed Wood’s” angora sweater, “Edward Scissorhands'” Gothic black leather suit, Roxie Hart’s “Chicago” dance dresses and many more iconic film looks. But this is the first time she’s designed for a streaming show.
“It’s a different kind of audience participation and since those other projects, a lot has happened. Social media wasn’t such an epic thing that it is today. The accessibility is so much greater and the ability to communicate and get excited about a look. It’s also international, so it’s very exciting.”
In 2010, Atwood designed a capsule collection with HSN pegged to “Snow White and The Huntsman” and next year, she’ll have one with Target linked to the upcoming Rob Marshall-directed live action version of “The Little Mermaid.”
But so far no one has approached her about doing anything around “Wednesday,” which hasn’t yet been renewed for a second season.
“A capsule collection around ‘Wednesday’ could be a gold mine,” Atwood said. “Look at all the different characters, you have Weems for grown-up women, and Wednesday and Enid and all the other girls,” she said, adding that she’d be game to design it and to continue with the show for another season. “I got a couple of really nice letters from people and one of them said thank you so much for doing ‘Wednesday’ because my 13-year-old daughter now is really sorry she cut her school uniform up to her crotch,” Atwood said of her more modest take on teenage style.
The second season of “The White Lotus” was a score for Dolce & Gabbana, beloved by the character Tanya McQuoid, and in a genius cross-promotion, worn by actress Jennifer Coolidge at the show’s premiere, together garnering $800,000 in media impact value, according to Launchmetrics. Tanya’s pink Valentino bag, featured in multiple scenes in the show, garnered the brand $335,000 in media impact value.
It’s not only big brands that have benefited from streaming series, however. Season Two of “The White Lotus” also put knitwear by indie London label House of Sunny in the spotlight as part of Portia’s chaotic, Gen-Z wardrobe, which has been hotly debated on social media — and among fashion editors.
“No outfits have sparked this much contentious discussion among Vogue’s fashion news team this year,” Sarah Spellings wrote in a post titled, “Are Portia’s Outfits on ‘The White Lotus’ Good or Bad?”
The misfires are the point, costume designer Alex Bovaird told The New York Times, explaining that for Portia (played by Haley Lu Richardson), she looked to social media influencers for inspiration.
Part of the resonance of many streaming shows is that they hold a mirror up to the social media landscape of fashion creativity.
“People will send me street-style shots, or…if they see scantily clad teens, they’ll tell me it’s my fault,” said “Euphoria” costume designer Heidi Bivens. “But, honestly, that stuff was already going on. I just tapped into it. And then I had a platform to put it on television, where often a lot of the time, especially on networks, there was more of a commercial look.”
Mesh tops, strappy dresses and lace-up-the-leg sandals are just a few fashion trends spawned by the HBO hit series, which generated its own #EuphoriaHigh TikTok challenge when Season Two premiered last January.
“There is this great opportunity for studios and producers to start to see costume designers as larger creative partners and not just people who put cool clothes on people,” said Bivens.
Costume design has helped elevate streaming talent, too.
Part of the real-world fashion success of “Euphoria” stars Hunter Schafer, Angus Cloud and Sydney Sweeney landing campaigns for Prada, Polo by Ralph Lauren fragrance, Miu Miu and more is because of Bivens’ character-building ability using her own designs, vintage and current pieces from brands like House of CB, Akna, Prada and Coperni.
Bivens’ looks reverberated on the runways, too, with Paris-based brand Coperni drawing direct inspiration from the show for its high school-themed fall 2022 collection, down to the student lockers as part of the production.
“They represent a new guard — and to think that an American show could have that kind of larger world impact is exciting. The language of fashion can travel,” said Bivens, a former staffer at WWD.
Season Three of “Emily in Paris,” which premieres Wednesday, is also poised to be a fashion hit, building on the influence of the first two seasons with even more bold colors and patterns, berets, bare midriffs and power shoulders.
Looks by Valentino, Balmain, Louis Vuitton, Christian Lacroix, Kevin Germanier, Skorpios, Essential Antwerp and more are among the 40,000 clothing and accessory pieces costume designer Marylin Fitoussi sourced for the HBO Max show.
“[Brands] should be treating [costume designers] like influencers. What they haven’t understood is that while they are not necessarily building everything from scratch, they are curating and bringing designs to the small and big screen that makes them stylists extraordinaire,” said Stacy Jones, founder of pop culture brand partnership agency Hollywood Branded.
Launchmetrics’ chief executive officer Michael Jais goes one step further: “The future is brands creating their own TV shows.”