When it comes to style, the cunning characters in “Pretty Little Liars” – high school students on a quest to find their friend’s killer – always bring their A-game – and they have costume designer Mandi Line to thank for it.
The woman behind the unique and individual styles of the four leading ladies; Spencer (played by Troian Bellisario), Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), and Hanna (Ashley Benson) has more tricks up her well-tailored sleeves than the mysterious “A” character – an anonymous bully who’s been torturing the girls since the show’s first episode.
Line, a Canadian-born self-confessed clothing addict, has been with the show since the beginning. The ABC Family series (which airs on MuchMusic in Canada) has garnered a following that includes everyone from ‘tweens to 30-something fashionistas, as much for the suspenseful plot as for the show’s sartorial appeal. With season three, which premiered June 5, freshly underway, fans can expect a ride of thrills, and of course, great outfits.
“The beginning of this season we’re calling ‘Indian summer,’ right before school starts; kids are wearing shorts and bright colours – it’s perfect for me,” said Line before a day of filming in California.
It’s uncommon for a show or movie’s storyline to follow real seasons, which is why Line is excited to put the girls in clothes their fans can replicate the very next day.
“It’s a totally different mindset because I get to do colour, brights, tank tops, and skirts and be a little flirtier.”
This is good news to the thousands of “Pretty Little Liars” (PLL) fans, who take to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and numerous blogs and forums to break down each episode’s style. Line never takes the feedback for granted.
“Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll go on YouTube and I seriously get choked up, I see these people from Europe and all over the world and they give tutorial videos on how to dress like Aria and how to dress like Spencer,” Line says.
With the show’s young and mature fans in mind, Line budgets outfits to make each look attainable for the everyday girl, something she takes from her own experience growing up with little money but a flare for fashion that won her accolades in school.
“I mix H&M and Zara and Forever XXI into these girls’ closets, and if they do get a Rebecca Minkoff, it’s one item and it’s not a head to toe.”
With pieces scrutinized after each episode, Line not only takes the time to answer fans’ questions on where to get what, but she also gets ideas from them, too.
Dressing the show’s spunky teenage sleuths is fun and challenging for Line, who’s become good friends with the actresses, but it means sometimes it’s hard to separate their character’s style and their real life style.
Hanna, who Line says is “the money of the group” is also the clique’s it-girl. In real life, Line says Benson loves skin, so when her character gets to show off, it’s a win-win.
“In real life, (Benson) is Aria, she’s super rocker, super edgy and she’s so beautiful, I make sure with her I try to do the higher end stuff. If I spend any money, I spend it on her,” Line says.
“In the first season I had her in a lot of flowers … But now I’m really looking at the trends, she’s got the most clean lines, really sophisticated. Sometimes I have to watch that, she can get to be too mature…but I have to remember to keep them looking young.”