Tonight marks the premiere of the highly anticipated (and controversial) new ABC show Mistresses. Based in Los Angeles, the show features the deep and multi-faceted friendships of four independent women, each facing her own infidelity, and how it plays out in her life. As steamy as the storylines, are the four leading ladies’ well-thought out wardrobes. Costume designer Roehehl Hawkins is no stranger to dressing bombshells – the former stylist for Charlie’s Angels, Desperate Housewives and Entourage, as well as the upcoming Lifetime series Devious Maids.
Before the show aired, Roemehl gave me a preview of what to expect from the Mistresses fashion and style.
Possessionista: Tell Possessionista readers a little about your four lead characters? How would you describe each of their style?
Savi (Alyssa Milano) is a lawyer. She is a complex character with hidden secrets. She is professionally dressed but with a vintage twist. I didn’t want to design a traditional looking lawyer (yawn..boring). I wanted her to have flavor, be relatable, and not be so buttoned-up. Alyssa and I collaborated on the look and decided to give “Savi” something that would be a fresh take on women’s “work” wear. Something original. She looks sharp, but there are feminine edges.
Karen (Yunjin Kim) is a therapist. She’s a modern woman with sleek lines with a hint of sex appeal. She can rock a pencil skirt like no other, but I would pair it with a softer blouse. Or, she would wear great dresses with an interesting neckline or color. It’s rare to see Karen in pants and that’s because, not only does Yunjin have killer legs, I wanted to protect her softer side.
April (Rochelle Aytes) is a retail shop owner. A really great fabric, retail, coffee boutique that explodes with pattern and color. She has been through so much in her life. Much heartache. I used great knits on her, flowy tops, wide leg jeans and maxi dresses and long skirts. She remains feminine and tough.
Josslyn (Jes Macallan) is a realtor. She is young and vibrant and a risk taker. She also spends her money on clothes. When we were first developing the look of Josslyn my Producer, Rina Mimoun, likened her character to Demi Moore’s character in “St. Elmos Fire” because we felt that Jossyln would have blown her commissions (and maxed out her credit) on clothes and accessories.
Possessionista: Whenever you have a show with four, independent female leads, you’re bound to draw some Sex and the City comparisons. How is Mistresses fashion like SATC? How is it different?
RH: Though I would be flattered to a Sex & The City comparison, there really is no comparison between the two shows…other than four women, all friends, with complicated lives. We are based in Los Angeles and that definitely had an influence on how I dressed these characters. I wanted them to remain grounded and the laid back nature of LA really inspired their look.
Possessionista: Where did you shop? What are your go-to brands for the show?
RH: Where didn’t I shop should be the question! Everywhere. Online. Samples from designers. Boutiques. You name it! I don’t really have “go-to brands”. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but if I’m driving to work and suddenly dream of using crazy, polka dot Wolford tights on Josslyn…it just happens…organically.
Possessionista: Which character is your favorite to dress? Which character dresses most like you?
RH: I love to dress them all. For different reasons. I feel like I’ve traveled the journey with the characters. But, with that being said, it’s really no secret that I identify most with Josslyn. Jes (Macallan) knows it. The Producers know it. My team knows it. In fact, in episode 2 she will wear my own personal Star Wars shirt!
Possessionista: Tell us a secret from the set? What is something you always do, or something we should look for?
RH: I color block with red and black to pay homage to my high school! Go Bisons! I do this on every project and add personal items such as my father’s Sheriff star screen printed on a t-shirt and worn by Josslyn. Or my Grandmother’s jewelry that is sometimes worn by Savi. I’m proud of where I come from (Clearfield, PA), so I often sneak in small town symbolism. Corny, I know.
Possessionista: How much input do your actors have in their wardrobes? Are they involved in the process?
RH: I’m very collaborative with my actors. We talk through everything and I enjoy bouncing ideas off of them. I find inspiration from them constantly and rely on them to help guide me. Especially if I’m in a “creative conundrum”, I know I can go to them to brainstorm. I learn something new from them almost everyday.
Possessionista: Anything else you want us to know about the show?
RH: The pilot episode was filmed over a year ago. For me, and everyone involved, it was a true labor of love. It is so well written and acted. The performances (and hopefully, the clothes) will blow your mind!