Never mind the catfights. What about the clothes?
Shoulder pads. Spangles. Billowing batwing sleeves. The costumes of the original Dynasty are more memorable to some people than the plot lines.
Designed primarily by Nolan Miller and influenced by the strong silhouettes of 1940s movie actresses, the clothes, jewels and copious furs worn by Joan Collins, Linda Evans and their ilk — not for nothing was one character named Sable — signalled both the apex of 20th-century conspicuous consumption and a new era of women asserting themselves in the workplace and beyond. In real life, customers stormed Bloomingdale’s to buy Miller’s fashion collection themed to the show, and the Dynasty influence is felt on runways even now.
Miller died in 2012, and Meredith Markworth-Pollack, the costume designer for the new Dynasty, was relieved to find out that the new programme would be set in the present day. “He was so cutting-edge, and I would never want to redo the beautiful work that he had done,” she said. “Instead, I’m planning it like a homage.”
Here’s how some of the show’s signature looks are being made over.
Then: The first time Krystle marries oil tycoon Blake Carrington, she has on a modest two-piece ivory skirt suit, with her new stepdaughter, Fallon, standing beside her in a long-sleeved black and white gown: part disco, part funeral. The next time Krystle marries Blake (multiple weddings to the same person are not uncommon on Dynasty) she wears a pale blue gown with petal-like epaulettes and a matching beribboned hat, one of many that Dynasty women donned on the show for important occasions.
Now: Cristal (a new spelling for the new show) is in a sexy white pantsuit reminiscent of the tailored separates Bianca Perez-Mora Macias wore to marry Mick Jagger. Fallon’s dress is black and white again, which Markworth-Pollack calls one of her “Easter eggs for the die-hards”, little surprises that she and the creators are scattering to please fans. This time, though, both women’s arms are bared — the Michelle Obama influence? — and part of their midriffs too.
Hats are not likely to come back, but you might see the occasional turban for no apparent reason. “At the end of the day, Dynasty is so campy,” Markworth-Pollack said.
Who’s the Boss?
Then: John Forsythe’s Blake Carrington stuck to traditional suits, often grey, navy or pinstriped, with perhaps the occasional cosy cardigan for mulling things over in the library, maybe a plaid shirt for relaxing on the private jet. His hair seemed to be Brylcreemed, and one suspected he smelled of Pinaud Clubman.
Now: Not yet of credible grandpa age, Grant Show’s Blake dresses commandingly but casually, as titans of industry have since the tech revolution of the 1990s. “There are nods to the original pinstripes, with great earth tones,” Markworth-Pollack said. “With him, it was a little bit of Steve McQueen and a little bit of Gatsby.”
The Male Peacock
Then: The rank-and-file men of Dynasty were impeccably well-groomed but wore nothing particularly memorable. They had uniforms: shorts for tennis, Polo shirts for polo, tuxedos for galas and (snore) pyjamas for sleep.
Now: Men are the new women, with the billionaire tech titan Jeff Colby in flowered dress shirts, turtlenecks and leather jackets. “What I’ve noticed in Atlanta is that the men’s style, it’s out of control, it’s so good,” Markworth-Pollack said of the show’s setting. “There’s a lot of men in hip hop, athletes and wealthy men with such a detailed aesthetic.”
High and Low
Then: Fashion was more centralised and hierarchical, and even women who scoffed at Dynasty were likely to be trying the bold colours and big hair that Miller preferred. “It was all about empowerment: making a statement and putting yourself out there,” Markworth-Pollack said.
Now: The industry is a hodgepodge, decades are no longer demarcated and the show’s costume designer is drawing from a range of labels including Balmain, Gucci and Alexandre Vauthier. “For every high there’s a low, but our lows aren’t that low,” Markworth-Pollack said. “I’ve used jeans on Cristal. Yeah, they’re like $400 (Dh1,469) jeans, but still.”
The Fur Won’t Fly
Then: Mink stoles and full-on Blackglama coats were de rigueur.
Now: The creators and the costume designer decided together to be cruelty-free. “There are so many interesting faux furs,” Markworth-Pollack said. Like women, baby, “they’ve come a long way”.