Why We Won't See Screech's Suspenders in 'The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story'
Costume designer Rebekka Sorensen explains why Lifetime's movie won't feature certain popular looks from the '90s sitcom and how she included "a modern flair" to the '80s- and '90s-inspired outfits
Come Monday night, we can relive the early '90s with Zack Morris and the rest of the Saved by the Bell gang once more with Lifetime's TV movie premiere of The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, which follows six then-unknown actors and their rise to fame while starring on the show. While we'll witness the Bayside High crew back together (with a new starring cast), there's one thing we'll miss seeing in this updated version: the show's original costume pieces — Screech's signature suspenders and Lisa's funky hats included.
"Well, one thing is, we can’t copy what Saved by the Bell did, so you’ll see the difference in our version of Screech," the show's costume designer Rebekka Sorensen tells Pret-a-Reporter, adding that the show's past designs were copyrighted.
Sam Kindseth as Dustin Diamond (Photo courtesy of Lifetime)
For instance, Sam Kindseth, who portrays Screech actor Dustin Diamond, wears a particularly remixed wardrobe. "We specifically stayed away from the suspenders that he’s known for, and we did our own layering of clothing instead. That was our biggest challenge was how to make Screech look like Screech, but not copy what that designer [Elizabeth Bass] did for him," explains the Vancouver-based designer.
She also shared that dressing Screech was "most difficult" since she was unable to include the many patterns he wore on the original sitcom, as well as his fake parachute pants. "We just did a twist of the late '80s and early '90s with a modern flair to it."
Not only will we not see familiar outfits from the '90s hit — including A.C. Slater's (played by Julian Works as Mario Lopez) extra-fitted wrestling attire — but Sorensen also avoided the use of hats for Lisa (starring Taylor Russell McKenzie as Lark Voorhies), who was known for wearing wild toppers on the series.
"We stayed away from the hats but just pumped up the colors [on her clothes] some more and the jewelry/accessories. Screech and Lisa were the ones we did go far with, whereas with the other characters we played them pretty similarly [based] on the research we did on how they portrayed themselves," says Sorensen of styling Dylan Everett as Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris), Tiera Skovbye as Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano), and Alyssa Lynch as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski).
Taylor Russell McKenzie as Lark Voorhies, left, and Dylan Everett as Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Photo courtesy of Lifetime)
She notes: "A lot of research was done on the Internet. We didn't get to talk to anybody or interview anyone. It was our own creative project of how we thought they dressed. It was our little twist."
Along with designing costumes for the flick, Sorensen also pulled from vintage stores in Vancouver, Canada (where Lifetime shot the TV movie), and bought from contemporary fashion labels Topshop and H&M, as well as Toronto-based retailer Urban Behavior and Canadian department store The Bay.
Sorensen adds that their hairstyles alone are enough to make us believe that the actors are their characters. "It was just so fabulous because when you’ve got that hair and all of them done, I just felt like there wasn’t much that I had to do for their wardrobe to look like their characters, because the hairstylist just did a fantastic job," says Sorensen.
Despite Slater's missing Bayside wrestling ensemble in Lifetime's adaption, Sorensen teases: "We did get him in a little tight dance outfit." As Jessie Spano puts it best, we're so excited.
The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story airs Monday, Sept. 1, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.
Julian Works as Mario Lopez, Tiera Skovbye as Elizabeth Berkley and Alyssa Lynch as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Photo courtesy of Lifetime)