‘The L Word: Generation Q’ Team on Costumes’ Non-Gender Conforming ‘Grounded Glamour’

(L-R): Jennifer Beals as Bette Porter,
Hilary B Gayle / Showtime

While costumes are always meant to complement the storytelling, in Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q,” they are also meant to showcase the diversity within the lesbian community.

“We as women are able to dress in a myriad of ways. So I really wanted to change perceptions of what being LGBTQ is, and I did not want to fall into the tropes,” costume designer Deirdra Elizabeth Govan told Variety at the show’s premiere event in Los Angeles, Calif.

“The L Word: Generation Q” is a continuation of “The L Word,” the beloved 2004-2009 drama series that followed Bette (Jennifer Beals), Alice (Leisha Hailey) and Shane (Katherine Moennig), among others, as they lived and loved in L.A. The new series reunites these three characters, now firmly established in careers but not all as settled in romantic relationships, but it also introduces a new generation of queer and trans individuals.

“Style has always been a very giant part of this show because we wanted to show the world that lesbians can also be fashion-forward,” Hailey said. 

Govan calls the fashion sense of the show “grounded glamour.” Although she had a guideline of their individual characters’ styles from the original series, where the established characters “were now” in their lives greatly informed what Govan put together for them. Often, this resulted in aspirational, but not easily affordable looks.

“They are in a place in their lives where they’re very successful,” said Beals, whose character is running for mayor in the new series. “Each one has accomplished so much, not only in personal goals, but financial goals. It’s something to aspire to — maybe not the price tag, but maybe the aesthetic.” 

On the flip side of the equation, though, are characters such as young production assistant Sarah Finley (Jacqueline Toboni) who are just starting their adult lives and careers and therefore are a bit more of a blank canvas — but on a budget. These characters Govan had to build “from zero.”

I am wearing a lot of Vans,” Toboni said of her quintessential show wardrobe. “Finley doesn’t have a lot of cash in the bank, and her clothes sort of reflect that.” 

In addition to representing a character’s income bracket or sense of creative self-expression, the clothes on “The L Word: Generation Q” are also meant to remove assumptions about what is masculine or feminine.

Sepideh Moafi said her character Gigi “defies gender” in many ways, and this is expressed through a “very androgynous look that maintains a sort of sexy, progressive and yet classic look.” Gigi is a successful, driven real estate agent who often wears sharp suits.

As actor Rosanny Zayas, who plays TV producer Sophie Suarez, put it: “The costumes, they represent the character in a way that they’re so stylish, but don’t conform to any kind of gender normality. You get to wear clothes that actually just make you feel good, and you’re comfortable in, but you also get to shine in the show with these clothes.”