written by Carolyn Twersky, W. Magazine
The world in which Do Revenge is set seems less like a reality and more like a pastel-coated dreamscape, where the sun always shines and your hair always lays just the way you want it to. “I’ve heard some people refer to it as this ‘girl world,’” Do Revenge’s costume designer, Alana Morshead, tells W over the phone. “It feels a bit dreamlike, but it’s still rooted in reality.” Made in the vein of teen movie classics like Clueless and Jawbreaker, there are aspects of Do Revenge that seem pretty unbelievable. Much like those ’90s films, Do Revenge exists in a universe where high schoolers look like they’re in their 20s (because the actors who portray them are), and they dress like they have an unlimited budget and a stylist on hand.
But Morshead did not have an unlimited budget when it came to creating the looks for Netflix’s newest flick. Sites like eBay were her best friends—as were thrift stores, and small, often women-run businesses like the L.A.-based Dadybones. The hodgepodge of pieces she collected then came together to create a Gen-Z version of the wardrobes found in the quintessential teen movies Morshead watched in her youth. “I loved Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and 10 Things I Hate About You,” she says. “I wanted to take those movies and update them to make them more current. We still talk about all those movies from 20 years ago, so maybe, 20 years from now, we’ll also be talking about Do Revenge.” Below, Morshead breaks down looks from three of the film’s main characters (and one very stylish bearded dragon), and reveals how those enviable pastel uniforms came to be.
There are many looks throughout the two-hour film that have the chance of joining the pantheon of teen movie-inspired Halloween costumes—finding a spot alongside the yellow plaid skirt set from Clueless or the primary-color looks from Heathers. It’s the high school uniforms, though, that really stand out as the pieces that will remain in the minds of Do Revenge viewers for years to come. But the plaid pleated skirts, cardigans, and berets—rendered in an array of tasty pastels—almost didn’t come to fruition.
“There was initially a debate on whether we were even going to have uniforms,” Morshead says. Luckily, she fought for them, with the idea that they added a bit of elite to the Rosehill Country Day setting. “The uniforms heighten things a bit more.”
Again, Morshead didn’t want to stray too far from reality when it came to the school looks, so she based her designs off South Korean uniforms, which she found through research. The berets and capes seemed like the perfect fit for the aesthetic she was creating with the costumes, but the colors she came across weren’t quite right, a bit too heavy for the film’s Miami setting. “I thought, ‘How do I take this and make it weather appropriate?’ So, I went through a bunch of colors and when we matched the mint with the pastel purple, it just kind of clicked.”
When it came to Camila Mendes’s Drea, Morshead was, like much of the fashion set these days, inspired by the ’90s. Specifically, she looked to the supermodels of the era, like Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, and Cindy Crawford. “I wanted everything to be very big and dramatic,” she says. The reference is obvious in the result, especially when taking into account Drea’s clear obsession with accessorizing, adding hair clips, necklaces, and bold earrings that she would surely feel at home on Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel runways.
Drea is a young women who always looks perfectly put together, with a barrette to match every ensemble and a tiny bag for each occasion. Considering Drea’s character doesn’t come from money, though—a point stressed throughout the film—Morshead wanted to keep her wardrobe realistic, which means she had to dig a bit to put together these perfectly coordinated looks.
“I got a lot of Drea’s pieces from small, female-owned brands on Instagram, and then mixed that with vintage pieces from eBay,” she says. “I really had to force things. If I wanted something high end, I’d have to find it on eBay or go thrifting.” The result is a classic Gen-Z aesthetic of over-the-top, eye-catching ensembles, the type that would no doubt garner a strong following on TikTok.
When we first meet Eleanor, she’s also embracing a ’90s aesthetic, albeit a very different one from Drea. Maya Hawke’s character seems to have enough flannels, ironic t-shirts, and backward hats to get her through four years of eye-rolling an Ivy League school. That all changes, however, when she undergoes the quintessential teen movie makeover, and trades in her cutoffs for crop tops. “I didn't want to have Eleanor turn into a clone of Drea after the makeover,” Morshead explains, so it was important for her to find pieces that represented a more glamorized version of Eleanor’s original aesthetic.
This time, Morshead looked toward Twiggy and a young Goldie Hawn for inspiration. “She has a slight mod, ’60s vibe going on,” the costume designer says, which can be seen in the florals and a palette of mustards and oranges applied to the post-makeover character.
When it came to the final party look, Morshead didn’t envision Eleanor in a dress like the rest of the girls. “It didn’t feel like her,” she says, admitting she had trouble finding pieces that matched the look she had in mind. “One morning, I just woke up with this idea of orange zippers.” The thought led her to the fabric store, where she purchased upwards of 50 pants zippers and fashioned them into a top. She tied them all together, creating a collar to wrap around Hawke’s neck, finishing off the piece with an orange lamé suit. “I knew under lights or against the fire, it would really bounce,” Morshead says. “And in a sea of people, we would be able to spot her really quickly.”
It probably comes as no surprise that, for Morshead, the main inspiration when it came to Max’s look was Harry Styles. “I didn’t want the male lead to be so masculine and macho, which is usually what we see in these teen movies,” she said. Austin Abrams is often seen just as heavily accessorized as his female counterparts, wearing a pearl necklace or heart earrings. Abrams himself also had some fun with the school uniform, opting to wear the bow tie—which was technically designated for the women—and placing it completely askew on his button-down. Abrams’s adoption of the accessory wasn’t a problem for Morshead, however, as she didn’t want the school uniforms to be so strictly gendered.
“Everyone could wear anything they wanted,” she adds. “We have men wearing the capes and women in the shorts and pantsuits.”
Max’s costuming reaches an unbuttoned apex at the final party, where he arrives in a Dolce & Gabbana pink chiffon shirt with ruffled detailing (chest exposed, of course). “I wanted Max to also have fun with his wardrobe, let him play with gender norms and colors,” Morshead says. “Having him in a flowing hot pink top felt like a really good match, and it keeps the attention on him.”