Revenge costume by Costume Designer & FIDM Grad, Jill Ohanneson. These costumes can be seen in "The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design" exhibition in the FIDM Museum & Galleries at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. (Alex J. Berliner/ABimages)


Oct. 12, 2012

With more than 20 years of experience, Costume Designer Jill Ohanneson—the woman now responsible for outfitting the cast of the ABC hit series “Revenge”—has adopted a clear-cut design ethic. The key to costuming the Hamptons-set drama, she says, is “to stick to pieces that are simple yet elegant.”

This is exactly the approach that Ohanneson took when she created an evening gown for Madeleine Stowe’s character, Victoria, for a season one flashback scene set in 1993. In this particular flashback, Victoria attends a New Year’s Eve party and meets her future lover for the first time. Although the early 90s was a period in which boxy, oversized clothing was most prominent, the dress needed to be very sensual and elegant.

Ohanneson designed three different evening gowns for the flashback scene. The one that was ultimately created is the most indicative of Victoria’s personality—dark and sensual with many layers and rich textures. The black gown was duplicated to fit Stowe’s photo double, due to the fact that production was filming two episodes simultaneously and Stowe was needed on both. The gown features a backless, beaded halter top and sleek silk jersey skirt with a black velvet bow at the waist. The dress is at once both secretive and protective (in the front, as the cleavage and neck are hidden), as well as revealing and vulnerable (in the back, which is bare). “The subtle designs reflect emotional states that we often see in Victoria as her character is constantly fighting between her fierce desires to protect and keep her family safe and her equally passionate desire to be open and loved,” says Ohanneson.

You can see more of Ohanneson’s design work in “Revenge” season two, airing now on ABC Sundays at 9/8 c.

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