The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

While last year had few memorable fashion moments due to the coronavirus pandemic, several hit TV shows highlighted in the upcoming awards season made up for that loss by giving spectators lavish costumes to obsess over.

Netflix had a record year in releasing fashionable, binge-worthy TV shows that resonated deeply with fans. Last October, it debuted the chess-themed drama, “The Queen’s Gambit,” which introduced fans to Beth Harmon, whose mod 1950s-era style paid homage to her sport. The streaming service also produced some of the most memorable costumes in its royal-themed shows, “The Crown” and “Bridgerton,” with the latter’s opulent regal looks influencing the upcoming spring 2021 fashion trends.

Here, WWD looks at eight TV shows nominated during the upcoming awards season with the most fashionable costumes. Read on for more.

“Schitt’s Creek”

The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

A still from “Schitt’s Creek.”  Courtesy

The over-the-top designer wardrobe of “Schitt’s Creek” was a critical element of the show’s success. In the series’ behind-the-scenes special, “Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitt’s Creek Farewell,” creator Dan Levy explained that the show’s costumes were the most important element of the storytelling.

“We as people say so much about who we are and what we believe in and what we want and what we think of ourselves by the way that we dress,” he said about the show, which aired its final season last year. “To me, wardrobe was like a huge focus, making sure that we thought through each of our characters and making sure the details were there.”

With costume designer Debra Hanson, Levy scoured vintage shops and online sellers to curate the show’s high-fashion wardrobe, especially for Catherine O’Hara’s character, Moira Rose, who regularly wore elaborate black-and-white outfits from designers like Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Balenciaga.

“Schitt’s Creek” is nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, including best television series (musical or comedy) and acting nominations for Levy, his father Eugene Levy, O’Hara and Annie Murphy.

“The Queen’s Gambit”

The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

Anya Taylor-Joy in Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit.”  COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” became the streaming service’s biggest scripted limited series to date, with 62 million households watching the show during its first month. The hit show received two Golden Globe nominations this year, including best limited series and best actress in a limited series for its star, Anya Taylor-Joy.

The show’s popularity can be credited in large part to its stylish wardrobe, particularly Taylor-Joy, whose character, the chess star Beth Harmon, had her own style evolution throughout the series, which is set in the 1950s and ’60s.

Gabriele Binder, the show’s costume designer, focused on an evocative color palette for Taylor-Joy’s wardrobe, specifically centering on a light green color that Binder referred to as the character’s “home color.” Harmon is seen wearing the hue at the beginning of the series when she arrives at an orphanage as a child and at the end when Harmon plays in a chess championship to show a full-circle moment.

The show’s wardrobe gives a nod to the mod styles of the era by taking inspiration from popular designers during that time, namely Pierre Cardin and his influential shift dresses. Many of Taylor-Joy’s costumes also took inspiration from chess, with the character wearing checkered prints or black and beige pieces to mimic a chess board.

“The Crown”

The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in Netflix’s “The Crown.”  Des Willie/Netflix

The fourth season of the hit royal drama, “The Crown,” was arguably its most anticipated, as the Netflix show finally introduced its Princess Diana with actress Emma Corrin.

“The Crown” costume designer, Amy Roberts, looked to several of Princess Diana’s actual looks for the show and recreated some of the pieces the princess wore at the beginning of her relationship with Prince Charles, such a pink and gold silk draped dress she wore during her royal tour of Australia in 1983.

Roberts’ most daunting task was recreating Princess Diana’s iconic David and Elizabeth Emanuel-designed wedding dress for the episode centering on the royal wedding. Roberts created a nearly identical replica of the wedding gown after meeting with David Emanuel and reviewing the designer’s original sketches.

“It was always going to be the elephant in the room, that dress,” she said. “And rather than be kind of overwhelmed by it, I thought the best way was for me to shut my eyes and think, what do I remember about that dress?”

The show’s version of Princess Diana’s dress took four seamstresses about four weeks and 600 hours to design. The gown was made with 95 meters of fabric and 100 meters of lace. The train measured at roughly 30 meters long. Roberts also had the gown’s lace trim re-created by the Nottingham company that made the original for Princess Diana’s wedding gown.

“The Crown” received six nominations for the 2021 Golden Globes, including best television series (drama) and acting nominations for Corrin, Olivia Colman, Josh O’Connor, Gillian Anderson and Helena Bonham Carter.


The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

Regé-Jean Paul and Phoebe Dynevor in Netflix’s “Bridgerton.”  LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

Netflix rounded out its year of hit TV shows with British period drama “Bridgerton,” which became the streaming service’s most watched series ever, airing in 82 million households in its first month.

The dramatic love story between protagonists Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset may be largely responsible for the allure of the show, but the opulent period costumes also resonated with fans.

The show’s lavish costumes required its own costume house, which was employed by 238 people designing everything from the Empire waist gowns and corsets to the floral embellishments, pearl details and fascinators.

“The process of embellishing — I have to say, that was where the fun really began,” Mirojnick told WWD in a December interview. “We were very fortunate to live the designer’s dream — to be able to use color and accessories freely, and be able to try things and be bold and adventurous.”

“Bridgerton” had contrasting aesthetics for the titular Bridgerton family and the Featherington family, with the former opting for powdery blue and gold dresses embellished with pearls and delicate flowers, while the latter gravitated toward bright colors with flashier embellishments.

The show did not receive any nominations at the upcoming Golden Globes, but received two at the 2021 SAG Awards for star Regé-Jean Page and for best performance by an ensemble in a drama series.


The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

A still from Netflix’s “Hollywood.”  Courtesy of Netflix

Ryan Murphy created an opulent reimagination of Hollywood in the 1940s with his latest series, “Hollywood.” The show gave a modernized take on the era by incorporating racial, sexual and gender biases, but stayed true to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood through its costumes.

Murphy worked with his frequent collaborator, Sarah Evelyn, and costume designer Lou Eyrich on the show’s costumes to create an earthy color palette made up of “harvest tones, gold, dark green, russet brown, deep roses and oranges,” Eyrich said in an interview with WWD. The designer created costumes for the show’s 20 to 25 principal characters, as well as its roughly 300 background actors.

The costumes were broken up into two classes: the wannabe actors and the Hollywood power players. “Ryan wanted the have-nots, the ingenues, to look like they came to Hollywood with very little,” Eyrich said. “They lived in small apartments and couldn’t afford a lot of clothes, so the patterns on their clothing might not match, the men might have striped pants with plaid shirts, ladies had cute skirts, shoes and sweaters that might be belted. It was a simplistic look.”

The Hollywood power players, on the other hand, were dressed in tailored clothing that incorporated good fabrics and lots of fur.

“Hollywood” received one Golden Globe nomination for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a limited series for Jim Parsons, who plays talent agent Henry Willson.

“The Great”

The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

Elle Fanning in Hulu’s “The Great.”  Courtesy Photo

Another popular British period drama, Hulu’s “The Great” featured a modernized take on 18th-century regal fashion.

Costume designer Emma Fryer focused on a color palette of “jewel tones and winter fruit colors” for the drama, which takes place in Russia and casts Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great and Nicholas Hoult as Peter III.

Fryer modernized the royal wardrobe, taking inspiration from design houses like Versace, Alexander McQueen and Dior to create updated sleeve styles or other unique embellishments. “It was all put on mood boards,” she said in an interview with WWD. “It could be a pattern on a fabric or a piece of jewelry, but somehow you hit upon something and find the character.”

She also stated that Catherine the Great’s character journey was reflected through her wardrobe. Fanning started off the series wearing light colors to portray an “idealistic, romantic, whimsical young woman” ahead of her arranged marriage, and ends the series in bolder colors to “give the audience a sense of her greatness.”

“The Great” received three Golden Globe nominations, including best television series (musical or comedy) and acting nominations for Fanning and Hoult.

“Lovecraft Country”

The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

A still from HBO Max’s “Lovecraft Country.”  Courtesy of HBO

HBO Max’s “Lovecraft Country” was a surprise sartorial hit with its vintage 1950s wardrobe that played a key role in the series’ plot, which is a horror-themed take on Jim Crow America.

The show’s standout style star was Leti Lewis, played by Jurnee Smollett. Throughout the series the character wears several retro styles, such as high-waisted skirts, cropped blouses and tailored dresses, that costume designer Dayna Pink sourced from vintage shops, eBay, Etsy and costume houses.

Pink referenced photography from the 1920s, ’30s and ’50s for the show’s wardrobe, specifically taking inspiration from fashion photographer Gordon Parks.

“Lovecraft Country” is nominated for best television series (drama) at the upcoming Golden Globes.

“Emily in Paris”

The Most Fashionable TV Shows of 2020

Lily Collins in Netflix’s “Emily in Paris.”  CAROLE BETHUEL/NETFLIX

The costumes of Netflix’s “Emily in Paris” were polarizing among audiences, with some loving the titular character’s over-the-top style and others seeing the wardrobe as anti-Parisian chic.

Show creator Darren Star, who was behind “Sex and the City,” tapped costume designers Patricia Field and Marylin Fitoussi to create the character’s wardrobe, which included clashing fabrics and prints, campy berets and some standout couture pieces.

“[Lily Collins’] character comes from the generation of Instagram,” Star told WWD in a 2019 interview. “The democratization of taste becomes a subject in the show. Who are the gatekeepers of taste, and how it’s changing is something we talk about in the show.”

“Emily in Paris” received two Golden Globe nominations, including best television series (musical or comedy) and an acting nomination for Collins.

Read more here:

Everything to Know About the 2021 Golden Globes 

How Seven Designers Would Dress the Characters of ‘Bridgerton’ 

What the Characters of ‘Bridgerton’ Would Wear This Spring 

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