As the costume designer behind one of the most fashion-forward teen shows on TV, Pretty Little Liars‘ Mandi Line has helped inspire trends and create style stars out of Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, and Troian Bellisario.
Now, Line tells Entertainment Weekly how she manages to make statements on a budget, which PLL star is the most difficult to dress, and what she has in mind for the Liars wardrobe in season four.
Here’s Line on…
Making the most of a tight budget: The costume designer says she’s had to “find a way to stretch this dollar” to create memorable looks. “On cable networks we don’t have all the money that prime-time has,” she explains. As a result, Line often adds her own twist to affordable off-the-rack finds. “Bloggers go crazy because they’re like, ‘We can not find this existing garment,'” says Line. “And I’m like, ‘Oh [that’s because] I added [to it] and I chopped it and I cut it.’ That’s how I keep working.”
Her shopping guide: To cull together the girls’ wardrobes, Line says she does the “mall run,” which includes stops at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Guess Marciano, Zara and even Bebe. “I do the big stores but I know that the special pieces that are going to go with those main pieces are probably going to come from little boutiques,” explains Line, who says she loves Los Angeles vintage and retail shops like Una Mae’s, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, and Wasteland. Though Line says she sometimes makes runs to high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus or Barneys, she tries not to frequent them. Explains the costume designer: “I don’t want these viewers to watch and get their hearts broken and just be like, ‘I can’t [afford that].’ I would rather have them see a Free People top that they can save up for.”
The most difficult to dress cast-member: Line says it’s actually a toss-up between two actors: Chad Lowe (who plays Aria’s father) and Troian Bellisario. Though Line says Lowe is “one of the coolest people in the world,” she explains that he’s finicky about the fit of his clothes, which include custom-made shirts. “I walk out of his fittings,” jokes Line. “I’m like, ‘I’m out of here Chad. I’m not doing these with you anymore.'” As for Troian, Line says the young actress knows she’s not easy to outfit. “But I’m going to follow that up with a compliment,” says Line. “She’s difficult because she has the best taste in real life.”
Trend-setting: “I am going to take credit for black and white stripes,” says Line. “That’s all Aria wore first and season second season. It’s everywhere now.” That’s not the only trend the wardrobe designer has inspired. Line says the feather earring craze can also be traced back to the series. As for how that got started? “It was totally unsanitary,” recalls Line, who says she literally took the accessory off her ear and put it on Lucy Hale.
On creating fashion stars: Thanks to Line’s statement-making ensembles, the actresses behind the Pretty Little Liars have become fashion icons in their own right — though not all of them are aware of it yet. “Lucy is so oblivious to any of this stuff,” says Line. “That’s not her thing.” As for the other girls, the costume designer says Shay Mitchell is more of an entrepreneur, while Ashley Benson—much like Lucy—is unaware of her influence. “I had a talk [with Ashley],” says Line. “I said, ‘People are going to come to you and want you to be the ambassador for their line.’ She’s like, ‘[Gasp] Really? Me? Fashion?.’ Now she’s the face of Bongo.”
On what’s next for the girls: Line jokes that she’s wary about heading into season four. “I’m just praying that it’s not a nightmare,” says the costume designer, who explains that she hopes the girls’ other projects—like Ashley’s role in Spring Breakers—don’t end up influencing how they view their characters. “Thank God I’m their friend in real life and I can tell them, ‘Stop it! Don’t forget you’re Emily!’ And always take them back down.” The costume designer says her goal is to make sure that each character’s style stays consistent. “I think it’s maintaining who the viewers want because that’s the integrity of who the characters are, but again moving forward with the fashion and not getting lazy.”
For more from our interview with Line—including her three favorite wardrobe moments from the series—pick up the Feb. 22 issue of Entertainment Weekly.
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