The Ballroom scene in the 90s was a vibrant and transformative era. If you’ve never seen a “ball,” or heard of a “house,” do yourself a favor and binge-watching Pose. The beloved FX series is in its final season, but it left an indelible mark on our hearts through touching storylines, faces, great fashions and reads. All of it brought to life through memorable costumes and designs that set the scene.
The 73rd Emmys are around the corner and with Pose in its final season, it deserves to be recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for its contribution to the culture.
From Elekta Extravaganza’s plush furs and radiant jewels to Pray Tells rotating collection of fabulous specs, the fashion on Pose is giving what needed to be gave. While it’s easily to fall in love with their characters as the individuals they are, there’s a wizard behind the wardrobe. The time period drama has a great cast and great costume designers, who put in hours of research to nail the show’s most dynamic fashion moments.
Analucia McGorty, two-time Emmy-nominated costume designer for Pose, drew inspiration from every “aspect of history, art, culture, fashion, music, film, politics.” She studied Ball legends and icons, browsed old camcorder footage and tapped publications like the historic Village Voice and Vogue Magazine.
“I love finding the movement and beauty in it all,” she told us in a candid interview. McGorty had to design and conceptualize every character’s style, which is no easy feat for a show of this magnitude. Everything from fabrics to fits makes a difference to the overall story.
“I think all shapes are beautiful and everyone is going to dress that way on my watch! Even though costume design is not fashion and it’s not always about making the character look good if the story says otherwise, we tell a story with the clothing as well. However, tailoring and fit is very important and my incredible tailors’ work is always amazing. I also talk to the actors, talk about what they see for the character, what they want to see of themselves in the tailoring of the clothing: if they feel good, they are going to look good!”
When asked about her favorite looks from both seasons of Pose, she thinks hard before unfairly narrowing it down. “I really had fun making the gold dress Elektra wears at the end of Season one as well as working next to Lou Eyrich to do Blanca’s pink feather dress. Season two- I love Lulu’s tulle skirt moment and the fashion shoot with all of Angel’s looks, plus the taxi jacket on Pray Tell!”
Lulu, brought to life by the stunning Hailie Sahar, is a fan favorite known for her category-stealing face, curves and luxurious fashions. Sahar says Lulu’s style was birthed from vision boards “inspired by Vanity from Vanity 6, Lisa Lisa, various fashion models from the 90s’ like Cindy Crawford, and my personal favorite, Janet Jackson.”
According to Sahar, Lulu was always meant to be stylish, “but not where she would outdo the overall Mother. Production wanted just enough where she would stand out as a confident and fearless statement in her own right. Think of when Lulu wore her black and white spotted Cruella Devil inspired fur coat.”
Both Sahar and McGorty appreciated the fine tailoring of the Pose costumes. “When it came to the wardrobe, the team on Pose did a great job to make sure my outfits we’re tailored to my body, as they did for the rest of my cast.” And seeing how Sahar considers a woman’s curves the most “beautiful and empowering part of a woman’s body,” flaunting them in her signature Lulu spin requires clothes that fit perfectly. The combination of good fashion and good form ladders up to one of her favorite Pose looks.
“I loved Lulu’s vintage Givenchy outfit worn in our first season finale episode. This episode is also where I introduced the iconic and fan favorite ‘Lulu Spin’ onto the ballroom runway.”
As some point, the characters take on a life of their own and evolve with time; something McGorty is well-aware of.
McGorty highlights the progression of Indya Moore’s character. “I think she started out as the eclectic 80’s thrift store teen who worked on the piers as a sex worker and she has grown into a woman who works in fashion, dresses like she does. Very 90’s model off-duty. I also think she is growing and changing throughout the seasons. Her clothing reflects her feelings on herself in that moment.
Sahar adds, “I also think Lulu‘s fashions represent her evolution throughout the seasons, more specifically as she’s tackled drug addiction. We go from seeing her glamour in previous seasons, to seeing Lulu more toned down and subtle with hints of wardrobe that remind the audience Lulu is still a glamorous diva on the inside.”
All McGorty’s characters are dear to her heart. “They are all very unique and I’ll miss them all dearly.”