“Pretty Little Liars”
Aug. 3, 2012
Costume Designer Mandi Line has a harrowing job: dressing four fashion-forward high school girls on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. Line has been designing the looks for the Liars cast since 2010, from everyday wear and party dress attire to the very different styles seen in all of the flashbacks. With viewers who critique every outfit and costume selection, Line is extremely mindful of staying true to the characters’ individual styles and color tones―which is why she approached the season 2 finale, appropriately titled “Unmasked,” with such precision and attention to detail.
“Many shows have done masquerade episodes, so I wanted to make sure that ours was special. I wanted each character to have their own color, theme and their own vibe. . . but it was important to me that the dresses did not look like something that would be worn on Halloween,” Line says.
When designing a dress for Aria (played by actress Lucy Hale), Line recreated a dress that she would have loved to have worn to her own prom but could not afford to have custom made at the time. The fabric Line envisioned did not exist so she had it made and incorporated Aria’s signature stripes into the design. Hanna (Ashley Benson) is meant to look like a modern day Juliet in a hand-made white and gold custom corset, radiating elegance. For Emily’s (actress Shay Mitchell) masquerade look, Line envisioned her as a tall, gorgeous mermaid in a bright turquoise to highlight both the fabric and detail in the skirt. When it came to dressing Mona (actress Janel Parrish), Line knew that she wanted her in purple. The dress started as a simple short party dress and from there Line added the inner tulle, a solid purple skirt to the back, and bold statement jewelry to dress it up. Ultimately she wanted a look that was “a little evil and a little wacky”―the perfect fit for Mona’s character.
“I edged up Spencer a bit with this look,” Line says of actress Troian Bellisario’s gown. “A fan showed me this dress months ago and I had remembered the mustard color and that the length was just right. I decided to add the collar and the leather trim for a strong contrast.”
The masquerade ball gowns worn by Aria, Hanna, Emily, Mona and Spencer in “Unmasked” are currently on display at “The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit,” co-presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and The FIDM Museum and Galleries. The exhibit, which is free to attend, runs through October 20 at the FIDM Museum, located at 919 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles.