“The Bold Type” premiered in 2017 and ever since has been one of the fashion magazine world’s guilty pleasures. Is it in any way a realistic depiction of what working in media is like in this day and age? Not in the slightest. But that’s precisely what makes it such a fun watch — right down to the clothes. The show follows three best friends and colleagues at Scarlet magazine, which is based on Cosmopolitan magazine (Cosmo’s former editor in chief Joanna Coles was involved in the show’s development). Kat, Jane and Sutton each develop their own senses of style over the seasons, and for the fifth and final one, costume designer Mandi Line was tapped to bring it all home.
“There’s only so much reality in ‘The Bold Type,’” Line admits. “As far as clothes, you have to get a little aspirational.”
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Line was in the Freeform family via “Pretty Little Liars,” which she worked on nearly 100 episodes of, when she was contacted about “The Bold Type” back in 2017. She wasn’t able to accept given scheduling commitments, but fast-forward to the show’s most recent season and it was a completely different story. The world was shut down due to the pandemic and there was no work to be found — until the show came calling. Line was tasked with shooting in Montreal in winter temps while trying to source from whatever stores she could find that were operating and open during the shutdown.
“It was like the biggest challenge to me, but it ended up being the best because it really was like ‘take the best of four seasons and make it even better,’” she says.
Here, Line talks about her process for making binge-worthy TV fashion magazine fashion.
WWD: Let’s start with Kat: what was your approach?
Mandi Line: Her sexual choices are so fluid, and as a queer woman myself, why not bring that into her wardrobe? I love that this year she wears masculine watches. She wears masculine chains, but she’s got some silhouettes that are still feminine and powerful. Number one with Kat, I really wanted to bring the fluid touch into her wardrobe. But number two, she is a strong, powerful, badass, Black woman: how do I express that through her clothes? I went to my friend, Charlese Antoinette, she’s the costume designer of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” She has a company called Black Designer Database and I wanted to take the money that we have on the show and put it back into the Black community. That’s something Kat would do. Her clothes throughout the season, you will see, are 80 percent by Black, independent designers.”
WWD: How about Sutton, who is rising as a stylist at the magazine?
M.L.: Watching Sutton, I’m like, “Oh, she’s cute. She’s pretty. She’s sweet. But what does the stylist look like?” So I did references of Karla Welsh, of Samantha McMillan. These women don’t stand out. If Sutton really is a stylist and she’s the strongest you’ve ever been, stylists wear clean cuts. Stylists these days are understated, but if you look at the brands and if you look at the price tag and if you look at how they do it…Karla Welch wears white T-shirts, black blazers, jeans, loafers, and the best accessories and she’s the biggest stylist in the business.
WWD: And Jane, who is finding her voice as a boss and columnist?
M.L.: Jane’s the toughest because her journey was sweet, uptight, sexual — in the office, you never really knew what you were going to get. So I wanted to bring, “OK girl, this is what the person that’s supposed to take over Scarlet is going to look like.” What does a modern office executive look like? She’s got like this badass blazer with this Isabel Marant belt and these leather pants and leather boots. She’s really bringing the modern to the office and it’s not uptight and sweet Janie anymore. She’s like, “You know what? I tackled my sexual issues. I’ve gone in and out of relationships. I’m trying to figure out what I want and this is what a boss looks like.” Jane’s, until the bitter end, we were figuring out.
WWD: In what ways did you aim to capture what working at a fashion magazine in your twenties is actually like, fashion wise?
M.L.: I envisioned, “So if they’ve got this fashion closet and they can’t afford these clothes, how did they get these clothes?” They have the fashion closet and they would go in and they would beg, borrow, steal.
WWD: How did you approach shopping for the wardrobe during the pandemic??
M.L.: The main thing is that 100 percent of the stores were closed. So I could not go into a store. That was not an option. So the brands are all over the place. It actually came down to who would come the fastest. That’s what had happened, because we were in another country, and in television, it’s not like movies. You don’t get months to prep. The script comes out, you’ve got two days to get the clothes in. Two. Then you have to put the outfits together, then you have to fit them, then you have to alter them, and then they go on camera in seven days. I mean, it’s unreal.
WWD: What were some brands you worked with?
M.L.: “UNTTLD, FWRD, Elyse Walker FWRD, Revolve. Holt Renfrew let us do online. Obsessed. And then Net-a-porter, Aritzia. God, we tried to do some Etsy, but that was such a hard turnaround. And as much as I love vintage…
Jane wears shoes by Giovanni Rossi, Saint Laurent and Gucci. I mean, her shoes are to die for. Kat does a lot of Nili Lotan. A lot of All Saints because I wanted to bring in that masculine. She wears Michael Kors men’s watches, which I love. Sutton, we did a lot of repeats on her jeans because the jeans were wide-leg Alexander McQueen. And I know it’s really expensive, but I did a lot of Victoria Beckham on her. And a lot of Madewell.
WWD: What was the highlight of this season’s fashion?
M.L.: “I always say, “Oh, it sucks to get old.” But with them, there’s no apologies at all this season. They’re going to wear it, they’re going to own it. They’re not reporting to anyone. I mean, maybe Jacqueline, but Jacqueline’s down for a fashion moment. But I really think they are at the point in their life where their choices in men, their choices in women, their choices in clothes, there’s no apologies and there’s no looking back.”
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