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'Revenge' Designer Jill Ohanneson On Snagging Vuitton, Gucci and Prada

Expensive designer fashion is de riguer on ABC's hit Hamptons set suspense series. But if you can't afford couture, get a good tailor. Seriously.

If you’re a fan of Revenge, you’ve probably drooled over the designer fashions worn by the show’s wealthy and haughty Hamptonites.  But you don’t really need a closet full of designer wares to look rich. What you need is a good tailor.

According to the show’s triple-Emmy nominated (Revenge, Six Feet Under, Citizen Cohn) costume designer Jill M. Ohanneson, her team of expert cutters/fitters can turn even a costume house rental costume into an elegant couture garment.

“We tailor everything to make it work with the actors’ bodies. All the principals have their clothing tailored. That’s how you make someone look powerful. If your clothes fit you perfectly, you feel more authoritative and you carry yourself differently. “

The tailoring and changes vary from actor to actor. “We are constantly modifying necklines for Victoria (think lowering) and we always make Emily’s long sleeves into three quarter length because she is so tall. And we taper the dresses on all the women so that they're more form-fitting. “

PHOTOS: Wardrobe Room: Inside the 'Revenge' Costume Department With Designer Jill Ohanneson

That's because women who live in the rarified air of The Hamptons love to show off their trim figures, maintained by tennis games, personal trainers and home gyms. “That’s one of the main things about these women,” says Ohanneson. “Staying in shape is at least a quarter of their day. And In this world, everyone is always in a disguise. Everyone’s clothes are transmitting what they want everyone else to feel or think about them.”

Viewers particularly saw the show's artful tailoring in the elegant black and white fashions worn to a masked ball in last Sunday's (March 31) episode entitled “Masquerade.” Ohanneson outfitted Emily Van Camp (Emily Thorne) Madeleine Stowe (Victoria Grayson), Ashley Madekwe (Ashley Davenport) and Gabriel Mann (Nolan Ross) in an intricate mix of vintage pieces and au courant couture. She loves the episode so much that she's already chosen it for her 2013 Emmy submission for Outstanding Costume Design. 

 “Emily wore a white halter gown by BCBG that we found at Bloomingdales,” explains Ohanneson. “We always go for a classic old Hollywood look for her. But there was a lot of alteration. We took off the full skirt and kept the bodice but added a slim skirt so it looked less prom and more elegant and sexy.”

By contrast, Victoria wore a slinky (purposefully altered) black gown by Mandalay with a spider web texture that speaks volumes about the scheming Queen B of the Hamptons. “We found this gown at Saks and we loved the texture of it. She’s always amazing in a black dress but this one had sheerness, a nude underlay, cap sleeves and a unique pattern. “

Ashley came out of the New York art scene, so she is always on trend. “For the ball, we put her in Dior with a white BCBG belt. It was the perfect color block for the party.  As a rule, Ashley wears a lot of edgy designers, including Louis Vuitton. But she loves her separates, so we do a lot of high/low on her: a Vuitton skirt and a blouse from Top Shop or H&M. And Ashley always picks out her own accessories from the batch we put in her dressing room." 

For the eccentrically attired Nolan, she found a vintage ‘70s suit and modified it to make it more contemporary. “We always play with textures and patterns to make his look more interesting without making him a complete caricature. Early on we started playing with fish on his clothing, like the whale pants he wore in the trailer, shirts with anchors  and pajamas with sharks on them. I recently made him a lobster jacket, as a nod to Ryan Gosling in Drive."

But crack cutter/fitters aside, Ohanneson admits that designer names do count. “We watch the designer runways and sometimes we watch the videos of the shows with the actresses, so we can see what we like and figure out what can work. This is the first time i have worked with  high end designers on a regular basis. And as a result, the cast has been getting offers from designers to wear their stuff on the red carpet which is very exciting for them.

Ohanneson is forced  to shop early because Revenge is an off-season show. “We are just moving into fall and the shops are already stocking spring. So we shop  early to build our winter closets. If I waited, then all the really good stuff and small sizes would be gone.”

“We do the rounds of the stores in Beverly Hills, Neiman’s Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and then we hit the boutiques. Last season Victoria wore Alaia, L’Wren Scott, and Pucci.  This season she wears a lot of Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, sometimes Christian Dior.She has more of a sultry feline feel to her vs. Emily’s classic style, which is more Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors.

But since the characters don't stay the same, their wardrobes  must also evolve to reflect that. "In the first season, Emily was more innocent and fresh. In the second season, she's  gotten into some misadventures, so we've made her more sophisticated, with tighter fitted dresses, more tailoring, darker colors and some leather to toughen her up a little bit."

Revenge airs on ABC, Sundays nights at 9 p.m.

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