In an early scene in Netflix’s dark comedy “Do Revenge,” awkward new girl Eleanor (Maya Hawke) tentatively steps onto the grounds of Rosehill, an upscale private school in Miami that swims with sharks. Fortunately, sweet, alternative underclassman Gabbi (Talia Ryder) generously gives an impromptu tour of the campus cliques: There are the Instagram-influential “Rosehill witches,” the “horny theater kids who tried to mount a mostly white rendition of ‘ Hamilton’ ” and the popular alphas – a staple in all teenage movies (and life). The social primer feels like a wink-wink tribute to “Ignorant,” and so does the sea of coordinated school plaids.
“I was definitely inspired by cult classics like”Romy and Michele‘ and ‘Jawbreaker’ when I read the script,” says the costume designer Alana Morsehead“It immediately reminded me of the movies I saw when I was a teenager in high school, classics that we could [take inspiration from and] make this something like that.”
For the Rosehill regalia, however, Morsehead took direct inspiration from South Korean school uniforms, which has become modern in their own right, as seen in K-dramas and K-pop artists as well. “They were just so trendy and cool without being over the top, and they were so modest,” she says.
The Easter Egg color palette speaks to both the setting of Miami – with its famous deco architecture (and the iconic pastel suits of the original “Miami Vice”) – plus the stylized aesthetic that brings an “augmented reality” of this tony, cut-neck private school ecosystem. The crisp bows, smart capelets (like really is academic attire), plush knits and cheeky berets also highlight the consistent effort Rosehill students make to present themselves.
“They take pride in looking their best, with their hats on straight and their ribbons tied all the way,” says Morsehead, who individualized each character with an expressive selection of patterned and embellished socks, schoolboy shoe variations and statement jewellery.
The uniform elements – all sourced from overseas suppliers – also allow for gender inclusivity: Performative “golden boy” Max wears the dainty ribbon bows with his abundant jewelry, while Eleanor begins the school year in obscurity, wearing an oversized v-neck sweater and pleated khaki pants. “We have the pieces all,” Morshead says.
At Rosehill, “Evil intentions“-type intrigue unfolds under the watchful eye of unwitting (and rarely seen) adults. The versatility and interchangeability of the uniform elements indicate a hierarchy ranking—and also possible decline. In a Teen Vogue video, Yale-bound scholarship student Drea (Camila Mendes) presides over Rosehill in a pristine pistachio cape ensemble with his bow on the tip and beret perfectly askew.
“It was more of a power move for her, being in a cape,” says Morshead. “When things really start to go downhill for her, we see her without a tie and [her shirt is] buttoned up and it’s real really never mind Drea.” Although she used to lead “Rosehill’s Royal Court,” things went downhill when then-boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams, top center) leaked a sex video she made for him.
The characters’ off-campus styles are equally spare, fun and specific, complete with joy-inducing nostalgic references. “For Drea, I was really inspired by all the ’90s supermodel runway looks worn by Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell,” Morshead says.
Summer vacation sees Eleanor Drea instruct – and win over – her terrible, entitled classmates at tennis camp. At first, you’d think the two wouldn’t mix at all, especially since Eleanor is wearing a t-shirt that says “models suck” (ironic considering Drea’s style inspo).
“The T-shirt felt like a slight insult, not just to Drea, but to everyone,” says Morshead. “It’s making a statement without saying anything. That baseball cap Eleanor wore often also said, ‘I hate this.’ She doesn’t hold back!”
Drea and Eleanor bond over their grievances. Drea is intent on exacting retribution from Max, while Eleanor remains haunted by a false rumor started by her high school crush, Carissa (Ava Capri). So the former takes the latter on the requisite teenage shopping montage and turns another trope on its head. “Please don’t say ‘a makeover,'” Eleanor moans. “It’s so problematic.”
Of course, Drea is confidently dressed for the decisive day in an eye-catching pink houndstooth set (above) custom-made by Morshead, who referenced a 1992 photo of Faith with David Bowie in Paris, wearing a black and white check-on-check suit from Alaia.
“I just fell in love with it and I thought, ‘How can we do this.’ Miami?’ So it was a halter top and pink,” she says, adding that she envisioned the talented and resourceful Drea also custom-designing her art-poppy ensemble along with the rest of her colorful, print-happy coordinated ‘fits to follow with. with her wealthy peers. (Attentive viewers can see a sewing machine in the background of Drea’s room.)
Scroll to continue
With her expertise in fashion and imagination, Drea helps create Eleanor’s new persona to capture Max’s – and the easily distracted – attention of the fickle Royal Court. Eleanor transforms from her slouchy sweater uniform into her new “high status cunt” look, complete with a power cape and beret; her off-campus wardrobe is also evolving.
“I didn’t want Drea to just make another mini-clone of herself,” Morshead says. For Eleanor’s mustard-and-orange palette, she referenced ’60s and ’70s icons like Twiggy and “Shampoo”-era Goldie Hawn.
While their subterfuge is successfully underway, Drea and Eleanor scheme in unison with their fashions as they uncover the true contents of Carissa’s hot house. Drea wears a ruffled purple crop top from the Aussie brand Dyspnoeawhile her yellow gingham shorts are off Blanca Miró‘s La Weste. They play off Eleanor’s adorable marigold print overalls and matching hat from the Latinx family owned company Miracle eye (over).
“They’re a team, and it’s them-versus-everyone else — but it’s a balance: They have their own identity, but they also go together,” says Morshead. When Eleanor infiltrates the royal court and gets close to Max on Drea’s behalf, she ends up enjoying her new status. She looks particularly comfortable with her feet (and blocky glides by Charlotte Stone) up on Max’s lap, wearing a mesh floral Mary Quant-esue turtleneck from occupation and canary yellow vintage shorts. A famous metallic bomber jacket from The Mighty Company signaling her official induction into the royal court (below). (The costume designer made it a point to support independent and women-owned brands, like all the ones already mentioned, plus brands like Lessons!, 3 women, Muaves and RoseCut.)
“At that point in the movie, she gets used to being in this ‘role’ of Eleanor, and it becomes a little more organic for her to like dress and put together pieces like this,” says Morshead. “At that moment, she has the boldest look to get her kind of pop the most.”
Later, the two reunite for a climactic, hedonistic and very exclusive party. They make their grand entrance in shiny (and very “Romy and Michele”) looks, both custom-designed by Morshead in their signature shades. (She assigned Drea a “cooler palette” of blues, purples and jewel tones.)
The kind of inverted sweetheart neckline on Drea’s glittery evening gown took direct inspiration from supermodel Carla Bruni wearing an ice blue Versace dressed in 1995 for an after party hosted by the legendary designer; the gilded butterfly at the bodice heralds a closing conversation, while the thick gold chains hearken back to the free, extravagant Clinton era.
“It just felt so 90s Moschino,” Morshead says. The provenance of the embellishments isn’t so much, though: “The straps on that dress are actually two belts from the beauty supply store. They’re $1.50 each.”
Morshead woke up one morning with the inspo fresh in her mind for Eleanor’s top look, which counters Drea’s sparkles with an oversized pantsuit made in a dynamic metallic orange lamé.
“I was just like, ‘I’m going to do something with orange zippers,'” says Morshead. “So I go to the fabric store, buy like 50 orange zippers for pants and think, ‘Why don’t we make this into a top?'”
The asymmetrical strap choker gives a deliberate “dog collar vibe,” which creates a “little trapped illusion,” says Morshead. “She’s under Drea’s spell.”
The two still have to deal with Max saying things like, “I’d love to backpack across Europe with my camera. Just blow up my life. It’s all so performative,” with no self-awareness. (He also pronounces “privacy” like he’s British. He’s not.) The inspiration for his floral pants, ruffled sheer blouses, and vintage Gucci teddy cardigan (and no shirt)? “It is quite Harry Styles,” Morshead says.
According to the costume designer, she wanted to subvert the archetypal straight, cisgender, “kind of misogynistic” male love interest of ’90s teen rom-coms. “Max is the leading popular guy in school. He wears a pearl necklace and it’s cool,” says Morshead. “We’ve come a long way since then. You can really just have your own style.”