When Jaye Hersh tunes into ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” she’s not interested in who’s feuding with who or bedding whom on the weekly seriocomic melodrama. Rather, the owner of the hip Los Angeles boutique Intuition trains her keen retail radar on the female ensemble cast’s, well, ensembles.
“I stocked up on the Splendid thermal shirts and duster sweaters that Teri Hatcher wore because I knew that women would want to get her look,” says Hersh, who also sold a copy of the famous patchwork bag that America Ferrera carries on the hit ABC show “Ugly Betty.” Costume designers for both shows — Catherine Adair and Eduardo Castro, respectively — are nominated for Emmys for outstanding costumes for a series this year.
Smallscreen style has long influenced everyday fashion. Back in the 1950s, Lucille Ball managed to make the apron a fashion accessory. But it was Sarah Jessica Parker — as the quirky and couture-obsessed Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City” — who launched enough sartorial trends to stock all of Saks.
These days, even the wardrobes of televised period dramas nudge modern-day style. Barneys in Beverly Hills recently unveiled a store window devoted to the costumes of HBO’s “Rome.” (Costume designer April Ferry also is up for an Emmy.) Barneys creative director Simon Doonan doesn’t anticipate a rush on togas, but he does concede that contemporary TV shows “massively influence” what people wear. “I just hope that these period looks eclipse the porn-star chic trend,” he says, with an audible shudder.
Ferry, who recently spotted a Dolce & Gabbana belt in Vogue that closely resembles one of her period cinchers on “Rome,” knows that her show inspires tastemakers and audiences alike. “A (fashion) designer recently told me that he based his new collection on the show,” she says. “TV has such a big audience, and people see these characters every week.”
Mass-merchandising the work of these intuitive costume designers isn’t lost on e-tailers either. Starstyle.com, which launched 18 months ago, connects consumers with outlets that offer clothes seen on shows like “Brothers and Sisters,” “American Idol” and 33 other programs. “These shows are inspiring trends, and people want to be able to buy the sweater or the jeans right away,” CEO Ashley Heather says.
On the site, 16th-century looks from “The Tudors” are tenuously translated to contemporary wear, too. An Anne Boleyn-inspired pearl necklace can be had for $172; a cleavage-inducing Nicole Miller dress with a square neckline sells for $365.
Even celebrities are emulating the bygone styles. “I just saw pictures of Chloe Sevigny and Mischa Barton wearing tunic dresses with big belts,” says “The Tudors’ ” Emmy-nominated costume designer, Joan Bergin. “Maybe it’s just serendipity.”