May 22, 2015
For 35 seasons, Costume Designer Cary Fetman has helped dress the aspiring brides and grooms on ABC’s reality franchise “The Bachelor” and the spin-off “The Bachelorette.” The dozens of young, beautiful, handsome and hopeful contestants are a curious mix of television show actor and real person.
That’s where Fetman’s job gets interesting.
“Most shows, you’re designing a costume for a character and you’re able to tell an actress, ‘This is what your character would wear.’ But this is their real life. They are going out to be as gorgeous as they can. They want to look hot. Their version of hot and sexy isn’t necessarily [mine],” said Fetman. “I have to tell her how I feel about it. If she says, ‘I feel hot,’ that’s my answer. That’s all I need to hear.”
There are expectations all around.
“There is a certain ‘Bachelor’ look I need to achieve for the men in the control room, and for the men who are the contestants and for the audience,” he said. If he misses a step, the Twitterverse will pounce immediately.
One of his best received gowns was for “Bachelorette” contestant Ashley Hebert, from 2011’s seventh season.
“It was this really soft pink and at the bottom it had feathers. It was drop-dead gorgeous,” said Fetman of the $16,000 Randi Rahm full-length gown embellished with silver and crystal beads and silver sequins and ringed with blush-tone ostrich feathers.
“There was a slight breeze coming off the ocean and we were in this tropical setting and the sun was setting. And you could see the little tufts of feathers moving. The beauty of it was how delicate it was and yet it still had a buoyancy. I don’t know if it was as gorgeous on screen as it was in person.
“It was one of those few times where she and I were in love with it at the same time,” Fetman said. “When you get that, you lock into that feeling.”