'UnREAL' Costume Designer Teases Rachel's Refined Look, New Suitor's Cam Newton-Inspired Style
Cynthia Ann Summers, who joins the show's second season, dishes on what we can expect on the fashion front for Rachel (Shiri Appleby), Quinn (Constance Zimmer) and 'Everlasting's' first-ever African-American suitor Darius Hill (B.J. Britt).
Lifetime's hit series UnREAL returns with its second season on Monday night, featuring all the drama and dark humor that fans have come to expect from the show’s female anti-heroes Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn (Constance Zimmer).
The dramedy, which follows the lives of producers working behind the scenes of a Bachelor-like reality dating show called Everlasting, returns with Rachel becoming the new Quinn and Quinn becoming the new Chet (Craig Bierko) as Chet has disappeared. With Rachel coming back in charge, she had to have a wardrobe that matched her new sense of power. That’s where costume designer Cynthia Ann Summers came in.
"Rachel's look is a little more heightened this year and looks a little more like what Quinn looked like last season — not a lot but somewhat. That’s totally intentional and totally story-driven," Summers, who joins the series this season, tells Pret-a-Reporter over the phone the day it was announced that UnREAL would be renewed for a third season. "She looks a lot more clean, more put together and in charge — that was the point, she needed to look like she could command the room."
To show that Rachel was now at the top of her game, the designer traded in her worn-out tees for a Helmut Lang jacket, Vince leather pants and Valentino Rockstud booties, "which show that she’s not only upped her game and position, but she’s also gotten a raise," says the designer. However, Summers didn’t want to stray completely away from Rachel’s casual style from the first season, so she also styled Appleby’s volatile character in Citizens of Humanity jeans, Golden Goose sneakers, Bloodstone booties and a new camo jacket.
Though UnREAL isn’t necessarily recognized for its contemporary costumes, Summers points out, "Anybody who’s watching closely will know after a while — subtlety, hopefully, the wardrobe is going down the rabbit hole with Rachel ... the wardrobe complements it, rather than standing out from it or dictating it."
As for Quinn, she wears less slacks this season, but sticks with one particular designer.
"We tried different designers but it kind of came back to Victoria Beckham just about every time," says the costume designer, who also worked on Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce. "Victoria builds great power dresses. It’s very bodycon, but you put it on and you don’t have to think about it again, which is really helpful for a character like Quinn who just bulldozes her way through her day while still looking fabulous."
The show’s leading ladies aren’t the only ones to get a wardrobe upgrade this season, though.
Darius Hill (B.J. Britt), a star quarterback who’s trying to polish up his bad reputation, gets quite the style treatment as Everlasting’s first-ever African-American suitor — something ABC’s The Bachelor has never had in its 14-year run.
Summers says she looked toward Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's eccentric ensembles for Darius’ wardrobe inspiration. "If you look him up, he’s got some crazy amazing fashion sense and he pulls it off, so we started there," she says, adding that she shopped at Saks and Nordstrom for the suitor's outfits. "Darius’ look is very chic, preppy. It’s well put together. You can almost always expect him to be wearing a tie with whatever he’s wearing."
She adds he’ll be in dressed in "bright colors and lots of different prints put together — unexpected pieces that are taken outside of the norm but speaks to someone that’s very confident."
Of all the costumes Summers was tasked with finding, nothing was as controversial as the confederate flag bikini.
"When I first took the show, [co-creator] Sarah [Gertrude Shapiro] and Carol [Barbee] came to me and said that there’s a storyline with one of the contestants not cast yet but she’s going to be wearing a confederate flag bikini, and I was like, ‘Oh, OK, and our bachelor is African-American, I see where we’re going here,'" she recalls. "Surprisingly — or maybe not surprisingly — you can buy them online and they’re everywhere, which was kind of shocking. But yes, you can buy confederate flag bikinis online and they're not expensive."
UnREAL's season two premieres Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.
Photos courtesy of Lifetime