***UPDATE IN JULY 2015: Are you looking for fashion details from Teen Beach 2? Click here for Mack”s looks. And click here for Lela’s costumes!***
When she first surfed aboard Disney Channel’s Teen Beach Movie, costume designer Ruth E. Carter (pictured far right) immediately turned her sartorial clock back in time in search of inspiration for the decade-set summer flick. And though most of her biker and surfer looks were pieced together from vintage finds, Ruth did stock the costume closet with some modern day threads.
Below, the wardrobe maven takes OSS readers back in time to explain how she brough Maia Mitchell‘s McKenzie (a.k.a Mack) and Grace Phipps‘ Lela to life.
1. When you were first approached to outfit TBM, what was your initial research process? Did you research 1960s movies for inspiration? 1960s magazines? Where were the specific places you found the best info on 1960s wardrobes?
My first instinct was to run to the costume collectors — like Palace Costumes and The Way We Wore — and took a look at REAL swimsuits from the early 60s! I took a few to my interview, and after I go the job I wanted to see more. After that, I looked at movies, like Beach Blanket Bingo and Beach Party. I broke open my collections of old SEARS catalogs and began to design the movie.
2. Where did you go shopping or hunt down most of the cast’s wardrobe for the movie?
I went to Palace Costume Company in Los Angeles first. They have the biggest collection of this era. And it was a treasure trove! Not only did they have swimsuits, they had most of the clothing you see in the movie. I went to fabric stores and bought tons of fabric for the biker look. Then, when I got to Puerto Rico, we set up a workshop. There, I recreated my favorite pieces for the cast. I also went shopping at vintage stores but mostly shopped at the mall! Abercrombie & Fitch had great horizontal striped t-shirts for guys. J Crew had capri pants. We went to the GAP for skinny jeans with stretch. Dancers need a little stretch in their lives!
3. Where did you get the Hawaiian friendship necklace that Lela gave to McKenzie (pictured above, left on Grace)? Was it already on the pearls or was that you idea?
That makes me really happy to hear you ask that! The charm came from the art department because it was the same [design] as the one on the surf board. But is was my idea to put it on the pearls. Pearls are classic. They come from the water. They are soooo Lela. And I like it because it made them stand out.
MCKENZIE’S YELLOW, FLORAL DRESS:
This was a vintage pick by Ruth. “The fabric is one of those fabrics that feels spongy like an old swimsuit,” the costumer recalled. “I think that this dress in the 1960 would be bought along with a matching swimsuit and headscarf.”
GET THE LOOK:1.) Bernie Dexter Orange Poppy Swing Dress
2.) French Connection Casablanca Vine Halter Dress
3.) Brilliant Splash Aloha Sun Dress
LELA’S RED AND WHITE POLKA DOT DRESS:
“Polka Dots are back! Again! And they will continue to dot in and out of the fashion scene,” Ruth said. “We all love polka dots, but Lela’s red and white dress was real vintage. I purchased it from a collector in LA.”
GET THE LOOK:1.) Delia’s All Over Polka Dot Printed Dress
2.) ModCloth Getting Dot in Here Dress
3.) Unique Vintage Red Polka Dot Flirty Swing Dress
MCKENZIE’S GREEN, RUFFLE-TRIM CROP TOP:
This was one of Ruth’s original designs for TBM. “We made them right there in Puerto Rico. So, they are truly one-of-a-kind pieces. However, they were inspired by the styles that I observed in the Sears catalogs that I used to research the movie.”
GET THE LOOK:1.) Lilly Pulitzer Gardenia Top
2.) Chelsea & Violet Polka Dot Tank
3.) Delia’s Crop Lace Short Sleeve Top
LELA’S RED PLAID BATHING SUIT:
“Lela’s red,plaid bathing suit was a real vintage ‘romper’ suit that I found at a collector in LA called The Way We Wore.”
GET THE LOOK:1.) Betsey Johnson Atomic Hottie Gingham Two-Piece Bikini
2.) Burberry Brit Two-Piece Bandeau Bikini
3.) ModCloth Snack Bar Beauty Two Piece in Red
LELA’S PINK LEATHER JACKET:
Ruth faced the peril’s of online shopping when she ordered the girly piece of outerwear for Grace. “The jacket was ordered in an XS and when we recieved it it was 5 sizes too big. So we cut it down to her size!” The stylist also said she used the character Pinky Tuscadero from the 1950s-based TV show Happy Days as inspiration for the character. “Pinky always wore pink boots. So in the spirit of PT, I gave Lela pink boots and a pink jacket!”
GET THE LOOK:1.) Forever 21 Zippered Faux Leather Moto Jacket
2.) Dorothy Perkins Blush Stud Leather Jacket
3.) Sara Berman Edie Leather Jacket
***UPDATE IN JULY 2015: Are you looking for fashion details from Teen Beach 2? Click here for Mack”s looks. Lela’s are coming soon!***
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