Dynasty's Costume Designer on the Show's 'No Fur' Policy and Dressing the Characters in Gossip Girl-Level Outfits
We sat down with wardrobe stylist Meredith Markworth-Pollack, and got the inside scoop on the CW show's fabulous fashion and more behind-the-scenes style secrets
Riverdale isn’t the only show you should be binging on the CW. The network is also home to the hotly talked about Dynasty reboot, which brings all the beloved drama from the original ’80s prime-time soap and a modern update to the flashy style Dynasty is known for — all thanks to costume designer, Meredith Markworth-Pollack. With an impressive repertoire as a wardrobe stylist for major TV shows, including Gossip Girl, Hart of Dixie and REIGN (just to name a few), Markworth-Pollack is taking inspiration from the original hit series and modernizing it with some pretty fabulous looks. We sat down with the designer to get the inside scoop on how she’s translating the decadence of ’80’s fashion to modern-day Atlanta, Georgia. (Think flashy trends, sexy silhouettes, modern shoulder pads, faux fur and did we mention, tons of Gucci?)
Catch our chat with Markworth-Pollack below — and don’t forget to tune in to the new Dynasty series on Wednesdays at 9pm on the CW.
How much did you refer back to the original Dynasty wardrobe when mapping out outfits for the cast?
“I did my homework watching the show, kind of getting the vibes for what Nolan Miller, the original designer, did for each [character] and then figured out what we wanted to take from that. I worked with the show runners and with the cast and one of the things, for example, that I really loved about it was how the original designer would match separates in the same color, like a great silk blouse with a silk pair of pants. There are so many great moments of Linda Evans in these beautiful nudes, and so I definitely want to respect that and, at the same time, it was a trend that I think is happening now. It was a bit easier than I thought to find that. So really respecting the palettes and some of the shapes for each character. Same with Fallon, doing some great statement dresses, great separates but we didn’t want to be pigeonholed into only replicating the same looks, we wanted to keep it current and fresh but be respectful of the work that Nolan Miller did. It was so iconic and such a staple of the ’80s, and I have the utmost respect for what he did. We’re definitely planning a lot of little Easter eggs for the fans and little moments that diehard fans may notice were also in the original. There are certain palettes or styles of dresses — things like that.”
The Dynasty reboot is based in Atlanta as opposed to Denver. Did you have any southern influences on your outfit choices?
“I hadn’t spent a lot of time in the South before, I’m a California girl, and I was really surprised by the men’s styles specifically when I got here. That’s what impressed me the most. I think there’s such a boldness and confidence in the men and I would go shopping at Saks or Neiman Marcus and I would see these men in their Gucci suits and their loafers! And I think there’s that classic Americana sense here of dressing up for the day. Maybe you’re not doing anything, but you wake up and you put on your suit. I was just blown away by the whole suiting world here. I’ve been really impressed. I think there’s a lot of men here in the hip-hop community and in the athletics world that have a lot of money and aren’t afraid to spend it on their clothing. I’ve been asking them, ‘What are you wearing? Where did you get it?’ And that falls into the women’s style too, but I think that I didn’t want to go down the conservative southern road, I feel like we’ve seen that a lot of times. I feel like Atlanta is actually very progressive, I’ve found, so I want to reflect that in the style.”
Was there any styles from the original Dynasty that you felt would not work for the reboot?
“Not really. Even the shoulder pads — I’m down for the shoulder pads! I think they’re slightly different now, they’re a little more refined. They’re a little smaller. They don’t need to be the size of your face. They can be a little more dainty, but still get that effect. I love some of the original Blake looks like the sweaters and the turtleneck, but we wanted to make sure our Blake didn’t feel too much older, too conservative in that way so we didn’t really go down that road for him. We saved the turtleneck for Colby. We’re not doing real furs, we’re using faux furs. I just love all the statement pieces, and the hats and the accessories and the silhouettes, but I think were doing our version of that. The 2017 version of that. Like I said, the shoulders aren’t as big, maybe the hat brims are a little smaller, but besides that I feel a lot of those trends have come back around.”
Where did the no-fur policy generate?
“Stephanie Savage, who’s one of the creators of the show, and Sally Patrick, who’s our show runner, made the decision going into the show that while, yes, fur was such a huge part of the original Dynasty , given where we are now in 2017 that they didn’t want to use real fur. I totally respect that. We’ve dived head first into the world of faux fur, and I’m learning more and more about it. I’ve been very impressed by the designers that are working with faux fur. Stella McCartney is one of the pioneers of the higher-end couture designers that’s exploring with no fur, but now there are so many great faux fur companies and people using it. Plus, there are interesting colors and things you can’t get with originals. I’m excited to get into that world.”
You’ve worked on some other pretty influential shows such as Gossip Girl. How does this show compare style-wise to your experience with that show?
“I think as far as being a show that has contemporary fashion and is kind of pushing the envelope, it’s very similar, in the sense that we’re hoping that it’s going to be cutting edge and setting trends. You’ll see a juxtaposition between our two female leads, Fallon and Krystle, played by Liz Gillies and Nathalie Kelley, so I think that where Blair and Serena were set up in these two very different styles you’ll see that. I think that these girls aren’t in high school, they’re a little more mature so there’s probably a bit more crossover than we saw before, but we’re setting up this world, creating this world of wealth and affluence through cutting edge style trends, and that is definitely quite similar to what Gossip Girl became.”
What is your biggest challenge in creating the costumes for this show?
“The obvious is the budget. That’s always the biggest challenge. But it’s a fun challenge, and I totally accept that challenge. I love the hunt. I love playing, dealing deals and I love being creative in that sense so it’s been good. It can be tricky though, sometimes there’s no way around it, you need the money to spend. And also battling the humid Atlanta summer. That’s been a big wake up call for a lot of us that aren’t from here. You need like six shirts if you’re shooting a scene outside because you’re just like sweating through them. So yeah, weather and money, some of life’s biggest challenges too right?”
Is there a certain piece you couldn’t believe you were able to get for the show?
“Basically everything from Gucci. I mean it’s just so spot on for these characters right now. It’s innovative, it’s bold, it has some really great vintage throwbacks right now from the ’70s. I feel every time I buy a Gucci piece, I’m just like my mind is like blown. Right now I’m looking at that pajama tuxedo. I walked in, and I was like, ‘I don’t even know what I’m using this for, but I have to buy it right now.’ Thank god I’m using it, because otherwise I’d get in a lot of trouble.”