Earlier this month, Pretty Little Liars returned for a fourth season, bringing fans everything have come to expect: mystery, death, and killer style. From school clothes to funeral attire, costume designer Mandi Line talked to EW about the style evolution of each character, and explained how she’s trying to make PLL “the biggest show for fashion.”
EW: With all the clothing lines being developed based on TV shows and movies, would you consider doing one for PLL?
Mandi Line: From the get-go I’m pretty strong with what I feel and what I know I can do with a show, and when I got this show I said, ‘I’m going to make this the biggest show for fashion.’ Everyone wants to get something started, but I have to trust the expertise of the network. It’s actually starting to come together. Since the buzz is so big we know we have to hit now, I would love to say keep your fingers crossed and you may see something. That’s my dream of course. I’ve been trying since the first season but like I said, it is a process.
How has Aria’s look evolved since season one?
With Aria [Lucy Hale], I have to be honest: I based her off a mini me, and what I loved in junior high and high school, [what] I still love now. Aria is very true to herself. I wouldn’t say she’s trend inspired. I think she goes within herself, into her closet and she goes, “Hmm, I feel like being all stripes.” Everything that she’s in is about how she’s feeling [that] day, so her journey has been more true to her and not necessarily a growth. I think she’s just in touch with who she is. Fashion comes naturally to her. She doesn’t even think about it. Lucy Hale just lets me go with it. She closes her eyes and sticks her arms out and is like, “Just go.”
How has Spencer’s look changed?
Spencer [Troian Bellisario] is my toughest character, because she’s so far from what comes naturally to me. I think earlier on she was a little stiff, a little too mature, but I think if you look at preppy today or kids that come from well to-do families, they like to go into their mom’s closet and steal clothes. They like to do vintage shopping but on the high-end. I think she takes the definition of preppy and puts her own twist on it. She’s got the funky belt, she’s got the animal print. And I think she always adds a sexy element to things. I’m really consistent with her knee socks.
Hanna has always been the fashionista, so how have you adapted her look?
I like to say Hanna [Ashley Benson] is the girl who, whether it’s beg, borrow, steal, whatever she’s got to do to get what’s in the pages of the magazine, that’s what she’s going to do. Her journey, which I really like, started out super-feminine but she’s stepping up her game in fashion just like Vogue is, just like Marie Claire, just like Elle. She’s never going to be as edgy as Aria, but she’s taking more risks now than she did at the beginning when she was super feminine.
And Emily always looks so relaxed and chic.
Emily [Shay Mitchell] is consistent. It’s tank top, vest, jacket, leather, cargo. Emily had to get the approval of her parents at the beginning and now that she’s told them she’s gay, I think it just opened up. In real life, people have been affected by Emily, it’s profound what she’s done for girls [who are considering] coming out. She doesn’t have to be just a jock, she doesn’t have to be just conservative, she gets to be free and sexy with her clothes this season.
Do the characters’ costumes offer hints about the plot?
I have these visions and ideas and living out my fantasies and all of a sudden it will be like, “They’re digging up a grave, they’re going in the water, she’s killing this dude.” I just go, “Can you guys please give me a school day so I can put them in really, really high heels and really short skirts?!” If they’re wearing flats, I guarantee stuff is going down, because I hate flats. If there are flats in their room, Ashley will text me and be like, “What is going on? Why are there flats in my room?” I’m like, “Well, you’re carrying a dead body while you’re swimming.”
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.
Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill