When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in West Covina, Calif., do as the locals do — rock a pair of Vans. It’s one of the many style changes for powerhouse attorney Rebecca Bunch, who attempts to acclimate to her new Southern California hometown’s easy-does-it look in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
Actress and series creator Rachel Bloom’s lovelorn protagonist will embrace bohemian style in season two of the musical comedy series, which returned Oct. 21 and airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on The CW.
“We try to tell stories of people in realistic situations,” series costume designer Melina Root tells Footwear News. “I start with the reality of a high-end New York City lawyer who moved to West Covina. I look at the upscale life and how it changes when she moves to West Covina. She went from Louboutins to wearing Vans and board shorts and jeans and being more of a regular gal.”
In its freshman season, Bloom’s character abandons her work-consumed life in the Big Apple to relocate to sleepy West Covina, where she plots to win back her childhood sweetheart Josh, played by Vincent Rodriguez III.
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In between the shenanigans, irreverent musical numbers are thrown into the mix — like in the season two opener, which ripped on Beyonce’s “Lemonade” visual album. Bloom wears a wild cactus costume and channels Queen Bey’s moody short film in other wares.
“The cactus is a specific reference to being parched to love,” Root explained. “She also has an Alberta Ferretti dress with alterations, and the shoes are cheap — we found them from Forever 21.”
Here, Root shares with FN how wardrobe played a role in season two.
FN: How did you incorporate footwear into the head-to-toe storytelling and character development?
MR: “They are always in a state of change because they are trying to figure out who they are. For instance, Heather (Vella Lovell) has been wearing the same pair of Doc Martens since we started the show.”
“Rebecca goes through a bohemian transition and tries to fit into that. She wears Free People, Anthropologie and Toms, but that doesn’t last very long, so she’ll be changing again.”
“Darryl (Pete Gardner), Rebecca’s boss, always wears cowboy boots because of his identity is tied to being Chippewa.”
“Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) almost always wears Nike or Adidas, and he wears Skechers at work for his work look.”
“White Josh (David Hull) is always in flip-flops or Vans.”
“Parv (Cheena) plays a sort of sad dad, so we made him a closet of polo shirts and khakis, which is about as different from his real life as you can get. He wears really horrible shoes from Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx.”
FN: Where do you shop for the series?
MR: “We go all over the map. I have shoes from Payless to Neiman Marcus. It depends on the character. Rachel tends to wear Gucci pumps on-camera in the office. When she’s not, she tends to dress for the outfit: When she’s skateboarding she’s in Vans, when she’s rock climbing she’s in Aria shoes. [Her character] wears costumes even in real life — she can’t make it through (life) without a costume prop. We often times shop in West Covina and go out there for research, but it’s a TV show — it’s a musical comedy about mental health. It’s not a drama where I’m being realistic.”
FN: What are some challenges between styling footwear for regular scenes and the musical numbers?
MR: “We work with a lot of theater actors, so shoes are everything for them. We are careful to get shoes they can move in. We’ve done custom shoes, but we can’t get them fast enough. We have Capezio and LaDuca customs — they custom make Broadway shoes.”
FN: Rachel’s generous bust is a running joke in the series. Is that wardrobe magic?
MR: “That is the beauty of Rachel — but we usually try and contain them.”