“Pretty Little Liars” is debuting a bold experiment on Tuesday, Feb. 11 when “Shadow Play” transports the girls (via Spencer’s sleep-deprived, Adderall-fueled brain) to the 1940s. Everything about the episode is gorgeous, from the lighting to the makeup to the cinematography.
Of course, the costumes play an enormous role in creating the real feel of a black-and-white film noir piece. Costume designer Mandi Line tells Zap2it that for once, instead of letting her have free reign over the costumes, the show’s executive producer Joseph Dougherty (who wrote and directed “Shadow Play”) was very specific about what they wanted for the episode — but that was a good thing.
“Joseph was very insistent that the ‘Pretty Little Liars’ did not fall into this time, the time fell on them — you take the time and you put it on them. We went to all the different rental houses and [the costumes] are all from the 1940s. … We had to rebuild a lot of stuff that was actually falling apart,” says Line. “It had to have the feel of the characters that [Dougherty] told me for that time. There are pictures of Spencer juxtaposed right next to the actual actress in ‘The Big Sleep’ and her nightgown is almost to the point where we thought it was the real one from the movie.”
We were actually wondering if there were specific archetypes that the show was going for, which Line says is absolutely the case.
“You have Emily, who is very Sophia Loren,” says Line. “Hanna, I just based her off that typical secretary — a little inappropriate, everything fits just a little bit tighter but high fashion. Bold prints, super feminine. Mona was very femme fatale.”
In creating the looks for each girl, Line says she did have to do quite a bit of research, which was a new experience for her. “I’ve been so spoiled on my shows to be very contemporary, that’s the world I live in. I’m always in the now. And then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Oh my god, I have to do work and research!’, but I really enjoyed it.”
Line adds that the biggest challenge was putting these fashions in black and white. “Just because you like the dress, all of a sudden you put it behind a black-and-white lens and it looks like mud. It was a learning experience that I welcomed. It was just about having the right combo and the right saturation in colors to make it work.”
“Pretty Little Liars” airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.