How the new “Mean Girls” offer a 2024 update to millennial fashion

“Mean Girls” Offers a Vital Y2K Style UpdateJoJo Whilden

Tom Broecker is no stranger to working under pressure. In addition to dressing such iconic television series as 30 rock and house of cards and numerous Broadway plays, the award-winning costume designer has dressed the cast of Saturday night live—that multiple outfits are put on and taken off in real time each week—for an astonishing 30 years. But with the new musical film adaptation of Bad Girls—released in theaters today—took on a different kind of challenge: reinventing a beloved early 2000s movie classic, full of memorable looks, for a new generation.

The new film is an adaptation of the 2018 Broadway musical, which is itself based on the original 2004 film, so Broecker had clear fashion iconography to draw on and an important opportunity to say something new. As loved as the original. Bad Girls Still, it was important to Broecker and directors Samatha Jayne and Arturo Pérez Jr. that this version reflect the particular cultural moment of 2024. So while there are certainly nods to the look of the original film (the horny Santas, certain blouses, specific Halloween costumes), Broecker took the musical film’s clothing in a whole new direction.

A big focus, he explains, was how fashion from the turn of the millennium seems to be coming back into fashion among Gen Z kids these days, albeit with some major updates. There’s something about 2000s fashion that “just fits better” this time around, she says, also noting that today’s shoppers care more about sustainability and how certain products are made. Most importantly, Broecker says, he wanted to use the film’s style to illustrate each character’s arc of self-realization.

The results? Totally attractive. This is what the costume designer said.

Obviously we are looking at a film adaptation of a Broadway musical adaptation of the original film. How do you decide which costume decisions from previous iterations are included and where you can take creative liberties?

What is sacred, iconic and non-negotiable? There were so many questions that we addressed in terms of that. Generally we tended to stray away and make new interpretations. But there are plenty of Easter egg moments. The story takes place in 2024, and even if you didn’t have the original, I think it would still be what it is. For example, the winter talent show where the girls are dressed as sexy Santas; Those costumes have been updated and changed, but they are still attractive Santa costumes. We change and update them, but they really reference the originals. They are made of sparkles, not latex. We are moving towards a version that is similar but also different.

Are there any other Easter egg costume moments I should look out for?

The thing to keep in mind is that there are many scenes from the original film that have been removed because it is now a musical. But Tina Fey wears a vest in one of the scenes, and we referenced that idea today, because maybe this teacher would still wear a vest. We also pay homage to the last polka dot blouse she wears in the original for the big auditorium scene at the end. This character would still have the same aesthetic today.

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Tina Fey as Mrs. Norbury in the new Bad GirlsJoJo Whilden

That’s why updating it for 2024 was very important. Is Gen Z fashion a big part of the movie?

That was one of the things the principals were very interested in: this has to be in 2024, and it’s a high school in the suburbs of Chicago. This is not a Euphoria high school or a Gossip Girl high school – those programs are beautifully designed, but this is not that. Bad Girls It is something typical of Generation Z, with a lot of gender fluidity, sports leisure and a lot of vintage and second-hand clothing. Interestingly, much of Gen Z fashion references the Aughties and Y2K. It’s interesting how much fashion references that period, but fits better now. And now there’s also this focus on sustainability and how things are done.

The ’90s have been trending in fashion for years, but it finally looks like Y2K fashion is making a comeback.

There’s that Juicy Couture thing, the trucker hat; If you’re looking, it’s there and it’s just starting to affect middle school kids.

It’s interesting to hear you talk about Y2K fashion. When I spoke with him costume designer salty burn, which is set in 2006, 2007, mentioned that the Aughties are difficult to dress up, because those fashions haven’t fully reached costume houses yet. They are still in many people’s closets, so I ended up doing a lot of shopping on RealReal and similar sites.

Completely. Betsey Johnson, Caché, Bebe! We filmed in New Jersey, so we did a lot of second-hand stuff in New Jersey; and here in New York City we have places like Crossroads [Trading] and Buffalo Bag. The thing about this movie is that kids don’t shop that way anymore. Children shop from their phones. So we did a lot of shopping on Instagram. I was shopping on Instagram all the time and now the algorithm thinks I’m a 16-year-old girl.

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JoJo Whilden

What was the hardest look to get right?

I think what the musical does really well is reframe the story from Janis and Damian’s point of view. Each character passes through his eyes. And for this movie, those new actors. [Auliʻi Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey] They are giving these characters their own life, and it was very important, because they are different from the originals. So getting the main characters (Janis, Damian, Regina, Cady, Gretchen and Karen) right was very important. We had to make Janis feel like the Janis of 2024, not the Janis of 2004.

What a challenge: making these characters immediately recognizable through the lens of how we already know them, but also creating space for new actors to bring their own twists.

Janis in particular is queer and lesbian, and there is no queer code in this film. It was very important to us to reflect her creative life as a musician and artist. She does this yarn art that becomes a central moment in the film, and that was very important to the sense of texture of her character, having those layers. High school is a complicated time: one day you put on clothes to feel like a person, then you come home and think, I’m not really that person, and the next day you put on something else and reorganize yourself in a different way. . So in the end, Janis has all these extra frills and things taken away, and we just see her in her lilac tuxedo. She no longer needs to hide behind her eclecticism. She presents herself exactly as she is and that’s really powerful.

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Jaquel Spivey as Damian and Auliʻi Cravalho as JanisJoJo Whilden

Given his experience working in Saturday night live, who is famously frenetic, I’m curious to know how you found working on a film.

Working on a movie is like, “We have as long?!” And to SNL I usually have about 12 hours. we shoot [the new Mean Girls] in 32 days, which is still very fast. But what I love about this is that there is an arc in the narrative that you can share through the clothes, while at the same time SNL, In reality, it’s just about creating a situation so that you can hear the jokes. And this movie goes from a couple of days before school starts to prom, so we get to see these really full character arcs.

Was there anything from your wardrobe department that the actors tried to steal?

I am not going to say it! But there were five people who said, “I’ll take this!” And I was like, “Okay, but if we film again, I know where to find you!” One of them was very nice and said, “I want to take some of this stuff with me because this is the first time I’ve been on a shoot where I really love my wardrobe.” Someone can feel hot in a paper bag and make it look cool, but if they wear the smallest swimsuit and are not comfortable, they will not feel or be hot. So if we can make people feel good, we will have done half our job.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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