Inside The Costumes Of Hit Television Show ‘UnReal’

UNREAL costume designer
"UnReal" stars Constance ZImmer (Quinn) and Shiri Appleby (Rachel).
Lifetime Network.

If ever there was a TV series for some serious power dressing, “UnReal” would be it. Lifetime’s show-within-a-show stars Constance Zimmer as Quinn and Shiri Appleby as Rachel, two executive producers managing a dating-reality program. Here, costume designer Cynthia Summers gives Footwear News an inside look at Season 2.

Rachel is now the showrunner on “Everlasting,” the show within “UnReal.” How has that changed her style?

“Rachel hasn’t necessarily assumed Quinn’s look but has looked to her for inspiration in her new position. She doesn’t have the best reputation with the crew but needs to look like the boss. Her first look for the season is all Helmut Lang. We gave her some amazing Valentino Rock Stud booties to get her out of the sneakers and give her a little bit more validity as someone in charge.”

How has Quinn’s look grown?

“We looked to Victoria Beckham to take the lead in what we put Quinn in. The dresses are body conscious: you put them on and you don’t have to worry about what you look like. For footwear we got her out of her utilitarian shoes to a Christian Dior pump that gives her the sexy, power-woman vibe.”

Unreal Costume Designs Shiri Appleby (Rachel) and Constance Zimmer (Quinn) in Season 2 of “UnReal.” Lifetime Network.

What about Chet, the “Everlasting” creator’s look?

“Chet comes back cleaned up in a lot of ways. He comes back several pounds lighter for one. Last season he was in sweatpants, polo shirts and he’d wear a suit jacket and sneakers. He was just a mess. He’s regained his manhood [between Season 1 and Season 2 with the Paleo diet retreat], and he’s come back to take the show from Quinn. He’s come back looking like he needs to be in a power position.”

“UnReal” has a new suitor for the second season. How did you dress him?

“Choosing an African-American bachelor was a political move and something exciting for me, because [B.J. Britt’s character] Darius is an NFL star in the show, and a lot of football players have some pretty fabulous fashion sense off the field. We turned to Cam Newton for some inspiration. Darius’ wardrobe is easily bigger than any of the lead characters or contestants, too.”

Unreal Costume Designer B.J. Britt (Darius), Craig Bierko (Chet) and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Jay) in Season 2 of “UnReal.” Lifetime Network.

Did you have a favorite moment on set?
“There is a scene [where] Quinn has to go to an event and she’s trying on gowns. She has a stylist helping her, and I’m the stylist. It was fun to work with Constance in that context because as she’s tearing apart the stylist, she kept saying, ‘Now, I’m going to say this and you’re going to be OK with this? You know this isn’t directed at you, right?’ “

Tell us about the challenge of outfitting contestants for “Everlasting.” 

“We had 26 contestants that needed 26 gowns just for the first episode alone, and of course, no one should be in the same color or cut, and it should be appropriate to their character. We have a 5-ft.-by-6-ft. board in the office, and we mapped out the entire season of gowns. It is a lot of dresses. The footwear for the contestants is really all over the map. We used a lot of Nine West and Aldo.”

Unreal Costume Designers Contestants and Brennan Elliot, who plays “Everlasting” host Graham. Lifetime Network.

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