No humanity, no modesty: 'Vampire Diaries' costume designer on Elena's wicked new wardrobe
In the last episode of The Vampire Diaries, we watched as Elena walked away from her burning home. As it turns out, flipping a new vampire’s humanity switch to the off position affects more than just her attitude, especially when she sets fire to her entire wardrobe.
What will Elena wear? I’m doubting that the Salvatore brothers have anything that would fit little Miss Gilbert.
According to the show’s executive producer, Julie Plec, the new Elena has an entirely new look. “It’s just a little hipper, a little more contemporary, more skirts and belts and accessories,” Plec told EW. “She gets a great new haircut… and has a little fun with hair color.”
We spoke to Vampire Diaries‘ costume designer Leigh Leverett to learn more about Elena’s makeover:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How would you describe the “no-humanity” version of Elena’s wardrobe? What kind of transformation can fans expect?
LEIGH LEVERETT: It’s more like she just can go in anywhere and get whatever she wants. She can go into any boutique and compel anyone to give her anything as opposed to trying to look like Elena. Before it was still kind of Elena being Elena even though she was a vampire. Now it’s like she can just see something that she wants, and she can just go get it.
How does her style change?
It’s a little more adult looking… She is going for more dresses and skirts. It’s a little more boutique-y look, as opposed to a college look.
What was your inspiration for her new look?
I just see pieces and they look to me like something Elena as a vampire who has no humanity would wear, as opposed to [pieces] Elena the vampire with her humanity would wear. I go shopping [for] things that have the right feel to me for her.
Will Elena show more skin now that she has turned off her humanity?
I think in the episode coming up, she just doesn’t care. She doesn’t care who sees her doing what. As well as losing her humanity, she’s lost her modesty. She’s out to shock. It’s not even that she’s trying to show them anything, she just doesn’t care about the rules. Elena always lived by her set of rules, what she thought was right and wrong, and now it’s like she’s kind of thrown all the rules to the wind and she just does whatever she wants to do.
What was your process for re-building the character’s entire wardrobe?
I knew it was coming up. We were going to start shooting it immediately after Christmas, so I had to buy a bunch of stuff before Christmas, because in January and February, we end up in the resortwear months for fashion, and the colors aren’t good for our show. I did a big huge shop for her, just anything that I thought looked interesting or new that could be the new look. I did it all before Christmas, just trying to grab anything that looked like it was basically new and slightly different but still in the vein of Elena.
Did Nina Dobrev have any input on Elena’s new look?
When we knew that was going to happen, I called her in and I’m like, ‘Alright, they’re burning everything. If there’s anything you think you might want to wear later on or not ever not be able to wear again, you have to wear it this episode. You have to be in it when you walk out of the house.’ She had this favorite pair of brown, knee-high lace-up boots, so we had her in those. Then we have a navy suede jacket that she really likes, so we made sure that those [things] escaped the fire.
How does this version of Elena differ from Katherine in terms of her wardrobe?
That’s a fine line between vampire Elena with no humanity and Katherine. I try to keep Elena a little more organically based, whereas Katherine kind of wears shiny leathers and blacks and has a little bit more of a, I don’t want to say an edge, but she doesn’t wear flowy stuff. She’s always really tight and sexy. Whereas with Elena, she’s tight and sexy but in a more organic way. I try to use more wools and cottons, and less leather. If Katherine is wearing a leather jacket, Elena doesn’t wear a leather jacket. Or if [Elena’s] wearing a leather jacket, it’s in a color, it’s a totally different color palette than Katherine.
How would you describe a typical outfit or one or two staple pieces for human Elena versus vampire Elena versus the new Elena?
Well, original human Elena wore her Converse [sneakers] a lot, and boot-cut jeans and little sweaters with a little cami that poked out with some lace. That was a very Elena look. And then, when she became a vampire, we tried to kind of amp it up to a more [collegiate] look, where it was a little more stylized. There [is always] a little thought put into each outfit, as opposed to having her just wearing the kind of uniform she used to wear. It didn’t stray too far when she was human Elena. The vampire Elena, it’s more like she just kind of put things together differently and tried to make it look a little more put together. And then as no-humanity vampire Elena, it’s more like she just throws [clothes] on. It’s a haphazard-but-cool look. She’s not really caring, but she’s just throwing it on and it looks cool. I guess I should say effortlessly cool. She’s just grabbing stuff and putting it together, and it makes her look cool that way.
What’s the biggest style difference between humans and vampires? For example, how do you approach dressing Matt versus Damon?
Even though everybody has to be grounded in reality, I feel like with Damon and Stefan, they don’t wear a lot of prints; they wear the leather jackets a lot or they wear anything that makes them look kind of cool and slick, whereas the humans I try to keep a little more organic and looking like what a real person would wear, even though Damon and Stefan wear what real people wear. But with Matt, sometimes he wears little plaid shirts, and he wears work boots and jeans, because that’s what a kid his age would actually probably wear. He may not have developed a certain kind of hardcore style. With the vampires, it’s more trying to just keep them without looking like they follow fashion too much. They have this timeless style that stays the same.
Is there anything you’re dying to do with Elena or maybe have gotten to do now that there have been so many different versions of her? Julie Plec mentioned streaks in her hair.
Yea, they put some color pieces in her hair and everything. I think with her, we’ve just gotten to evolve her, so that’s been more the fun this year is changing her up from what she used to wear all the time to basically getting to do some new and different things. It helps when you’re in the fourth season [to] be able to change things up, so that you’re not bored with the same look, having to do it every episode. That’s a good thing with her.
The Vampire Diaries
Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.