'Julie & the Phantoms' Costume Designer Shares 8 Secrets: See Sketches

Netflix’s Julie and the Phantoms has catchy pop-rock tunes, sweet friendships, paranormal villainy and yes, even a little romance (we see you Juke). But if you were inspired by Julie’s bold, colorful DIY creations or the Phantoms’ ’90s-inspired rock band outfits or Dirty Candy’s neon-colored sequined looks, you have one person to thank: Emmy-winning costume designer Soyon An

‘Julie and the Phantoms’ Cast on Season 2 Hopes and Season 1 Cliffhangers!

‘Julie and the Phantoms’ Cast on Season 2 Hopes and Season 1 Cliffhangers!

A frequent and trusted collaborator on Kenny Ortega‘s projects, An was given “free rein” when it came to dreaming up the main characters’ overall style and key looks in crucial moments in the season. But there were three things that Ortega, executive producer and director on the series, wanted her to keep top of mind. First, it was important that newcomer Madison Reyes, who was plucked from obscurity via a nationwide casting call, and her Puerto Rican heritage be embraced against the backdrop of a “mixed cultural diversity pot” that is the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz, where the series is set. “That was Kenny’s main thing, to make sure we didn’t lose the integrity of the Latin culture and the culture of being a Los Angeleno,” An said. 

Second, figuring out a way to differentiate visually between the lifers, aka living human beings, from the dead, aka the ghosts, in the Hollywood Ghost Club scenes. “The ghosts would be in color and the lifers would be in black and white,” An said, adding a little wrinkle for fans to catch among the background dancers and extras of who was alive and who were actually ghosts.” And last but certainly not least, Ortega wanted An to come up with a cool but classic ’90s style for the boys — singer and lead guitarist Luke (Charlie Gillespie), bassist Reggie (Jeremy Shada) and drummer Alex (Owen Patrick Joyner) — that could cross decades and be timeless. “They’re from the ’90s and [it was important to] keep them period and true to that time. I took that and incorporated how to keep still relevant to today, 2020, but relevant to the ’90s — timeless pieces of the ’90s that would be forever, that would never go out of style.”

Over a recent Zoom chat wit ET, An — whose other credits include So You Think You Can Dance, Step Up All In and Jem and the Holograms — shares eight secrets behind Julie and the Phantoms‘ most memorable outfits, including an exclusive first look at early costume sketches by illustrator Gloria Kim; the personal touches the actors worked into their characters’ personas (That blue rabbit’s foot on Luke’s chain? A Gillespie special); and why Netflix got nervous (for a brief moment) over Luke’s cutoff muscle tanks.

Plus, shop ET Style’s fashion picks to recreate looks from the show. 

1. How Julie’s “I Got the Music” Dream Outfit Came Together 

“In episode 4’s ‘I Got the Music’ number, for Julie’s look with the band leader’s cape and hat, I wanted to create what her fantasy of being the leader of the drumline would look like. It’s a dream sequence, so I wanted to put the Virgin Mary saint on the front of the cape as a nod to her character’s heritage and religion because that is a huge part of the Latinx community. I’m sure you all notice, she’s always wearing the Virgin Mary necklace and she probably had a communion at some point, so I wanted to keep that as part of her dream but make it more extravagant. It also symbolizes that her mother is watching over her, so that was super important to incorporate. For her top, I wanted to bring in a bit of a ‘80s/‘90s vibe to tie in with the boys’ style, so that it could smoothly transition from scene-to-scene. I brought in that hyper-color blue, which emphasized the youthful and playfulness of the number. The whole theme of this scene is school spirit, which this school has a lot of! You can see that in every single student and especially Julie.

“I also wanted to show how even though she could be a little tomboyish and she walks to the beat of her own drum, she loves sparkle. And so her pants have Swarovski crystals all over it. When I read this script, I looked to Kenny and said ‘this daydream is totally a music video!’ Kenny and I discussed costume changes and collaborated on how to make many in the two minutes for this number. I thought about having Julie wear layers that she would be able to take off. Paul Becker, the choreographer, Kenny, and I then came up with ideas on how to remove and add these layers, plus have the costume changes sync up with the choreography, so she could seamlessly move from look-to-look within the song. It was such a fun challenge to tackle with Paul and Kenny.”

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2. How Sunset Curve Got Their ’90s Rocker Style

“I work with a lot of musicians and the way that my process is with boy bands or girl bands is, unless the goal is for the look to be like Backstreet Boys or ‘NSync where every person is exactly the same, you look at the group as a whole and ask, ‘What is the brand?’ And then it’s pulling individual styles and putting them into something that makes them cohesive as a whole. With the boys, I created mood boards to accomplish that Sunset Curve aesthetic. 

“Luke was always supposed to be my heavy metal, die-hard rock ‘n’ roll guy. Reggie is kind of the funny character, but he, for me, extracted this classic rock, from James Dean to 1995 with the shirt tied around his waist. He’s this timeless white T-shirt and leather jacket rock ‘n’ roll guy with skinny jeans and boots. You even see guys like that dressed today! And then with Owen, I wanted to make him have street style that was effortlessly chic. He knew what was in and what was cool, so I put him in Air Max from the ‘90s and crop sweaters, plus he had his big logo band T-shirts as well, which in the ‘90s were very in.”

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3. How the Phantoms’ “Nothing to Lose” Tuxes Came to Be

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