'Pretty Little Liars' costume designer talks favorite fashion moments
The Pretty Little Liars summer finale just happened, but costume designer Mandi Line is already looking forward to the fan reaction to the show’s Halloween episode, which airs October 22nd. “The fashion is insane this season as far as fan appreciation goes,” Line told EW. “It’s not even that I’m taking more risks or doing anything that different. [The fans] have started to identify [with the characters’ style].”
In fact, audience appreciation for the sartorial elements of the ABC Family series is so overwhelming that clothes featured on the show have been selling out in stores. “Every time I go to [L.A.’s Una Mae’s in Los Feliz], they say, ‘We sold out of this necklace, or this dress,'” Line said. “These young girls save up their money and they can definitely afford [brands like] Free People. The bummer is… we’re shooting scenes now that won’t air until February, which makes it tough [to find things later]. Fans will say, ‘I wanted this one skirt and it sold out.’ The truth is it’s because I bought it 8 months ago.” Though Line is staying mum, a Liars-inspired clothing collection is rumored to be in the works, which would help solve the problem of supply and demand.
What will happen to the coveted costumes when production on season 4 ends in November? “Warner Brothers owns every single item and because our show is so big, that stuff goes into museums or it’ll go into archives,” explained Line. Even if a character has been killed off, their wardrobe remains under lock and key. “We inventory because, as everyone knows, just because [a character is dead], you’re never really dead on our show. We’ll retire outfits and put them away or give them to Warner Brothers to put into the archives, then all of a sudden, it’ll be like, ‘Nope. Detective Wilden. Flashback. Bring it back out.'”
And don’t be surprised if you see paparazzi photos of one of the stars in her character’s clothes during their downtime. “Troian [Bellisario] is going to London this hiatus and I get so excited when she asks [to borrow] things because she has such great personal style,” Line said. “The girls ask [to borrow pieces] all the time, but we make sure to have them sign [something] that says, ‘I took this, I took that.’ They’re good at getting it back to us. Except for, sometimes with Ashley Benson, we’ll have to actually [say], ‘Okay. Give me the keys to your car. Open your trunk and get it out!’ I love that girl, but she always goes, ‘Oh, no, it’s in my trunk!’ or ‘It’s at my house.'”
Click on to see Line’s favorite fashion moments from the Pretty Little Liars summer season, find out about the mystery behind the red coats, and get a sneak peek at the look of the PLL spinoff series Ravenswood.
Emily’s “leggy” dress
Line’s favorite Emily outfit this season consisted of an All Saints dress, Michael Kors vest, and Frye boots. “I wore the exact outfit the weekend before,” she said of the look, featured in episode five. “I dress the girls how I either dress or want to do dress. [Shay Mitchell’s] got amazing legs, so she’s my aspirational me. [When I’m shopping], I go, ‘One for me, one for her.’ Emily never gets to wear dresses, so I thought, ‘Why doesn’t she wear a t-shirt as a dress?’ The leather vest keeps her edgy. The bummer about that outfit is that you never got to see it head to toe on-camera.”
Spencer does Harry Potter
“Troian [Bellisario] floors me because every now and then she’ll be like, ‘I don’t do polka dots or pink,’ but then I’ll put her in a Hogwarts outfit or make her my little mini Sailor Moon,” joked Line of Spencer’s Harry Potter-inspired ensemble from episode eight — a Wayf shirt, Club Monaco skirt, Gibson jacket, and GH Bass & Co shoes. “One day she’s totally into being my little doll and the next day she’s like, ‘Nope, I’m not doing this!’ This was one of those days when she was so down to be my little character.”
Aira’s tie skirt
Viewers who loved the tie-skirt Aria wore in episode five won’t find it in stores. “It came from my closet,” said Line. “I wore it when I was in high school, I owned two of them. That may have been one that I made, but I had one that came from a store like Jet Rag. It was definitely way too short, but [Lucy Hale] rocked it.”
Hanna’s “Happy Ashley” top
The top Hanna wore in episode four was found in the most unlikely place. “I was at this store called Wild Style on Melrose [in Los Angeles]. We can never really afford it and it’s very fashion forward, hip hop,” said Line of the Ashley Williams shirt, which she paired with a Petticoat Alley skirt and BP boots. “It was too perfect [because Ashley Benson plays Hannah]. I had to get it. I thought, ‘I might get in trouble, but I’m making her wear this shirt! If I reuse a skirt I’ve used before, I can afford it.'”
The case of the disappearing red coat
We finally learned who Red Coat is, now the big mystery in the wardrobe department is where the red coat came from. “No one said that it was going to be [more than one] character and we can not find another red coat [like it] anywhere,” explained Line. “We got it online from some small retailer, but we have a feeling that we can’t find it anymore because the fans have bought them all. If we ever got desperate, we could [ask the fans]. ‘Hey—turn in your red coats!'” Line does remember that the red trench coats worn by the girls in the promo poster for season 4 are from Theory.
The Look of Ravenswood
The Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars will offer fans their first real taste of Ravenswood. “It’s technically kind of the pilot for Ravenswood,” said Line, who won’t be designing the costumes for the supernatural spin-off. “Marlene [King, the show’s creator] really wanted me to do it, but they’re shooting it in Louisiana. They have a great designer [Blair Levin] that they’re using. I wanted to do it so badly but… I can’t go back and forth.” Line hinted that the characters on Ravenswood will be more understated. “Marlene wanted a very real [look]. It’s about this town that lives among the dead, so they want it to be more about the tone and the mystery. You know what’s going to happen when Hannah goes to Ravenswood? She’s going to stick out like a sore thumb. She’s way too [colorful] for that crowd.”
Four little liars and a being named “A” (who may or may not be the fifth little liar) try to live their lives in Rosewood. It’s complicated.