gilmore girls

Gilmore Girls’ Costume Designer Breaks Down the Looks From the Revival

Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls Photo: Saeed Adyani//Netflix

When Rory and Lorelai return to Stars Hollow on Netflix’s Gilmore Girls this Friday, the fictional Connecticut town, for the most part, looks the same as it ever was. According to costume designer Brenda Maben, who worked on the series ever since it was on the WB and returns, like much of the crew, for the revival, that’s intentional. “I think that’s what the fans are looking forward to,” she said, “coming home.” So, as seen in Gilmore trailer, many of the characters return wearing their signature looks — Luke, for instance, is still in his plaid and his baseball cap. A few others, however, seem to have changed their style significantly — why on earth is Emily Gilmore wearing a T-shirt? Vulture caught up with Maben to talk through how she brought the Gilmore style back for the revival, how Dean, Jess, and Logan have grown up, and where Rory’s buying her coats.

“She’s a business woman now,” Maben said of Lorelai’s more formal looks in the revival. “Her clothing is reflecting that. I don’t want to say that she’s turning into her mom or anything like that, which is not the truth, but she’s just a teeny bit more sophisticated. I think she’s taken a bunch of really good trips to New York.” But even as Lorelai’s gotten more formal, she still knows how to have fun. “She’s still involved with Luke, which keeps her grounded,” Maben said. She pointed to a glimpse of Lorelai in a caftan that we see in one of the trailers, which comes from the “Summer” episode. “She doesn’t care,” Maben said. “She’s not one that goes by what everyone else thinks. She has her own style and she’s real secure with who she is.” Photo: Netflix
The Netflix revival also brings Lorelai back to her habit of wearing colorful scarves. These are a little fancier than some of the pieces she wore on the original run of the show, many of which Maben knit herself. “In the beginning, I knitted a lot of her hats and scarves,” the costume designer explained, “because the premise was that [Lorelai] actually maybe knit it herself.” Now, Lorelai has more money at her disposal and can go out and buy some knit items, which means that Maben is off the hook on the knitting side, but the A Year in the Life trailer still has a nod to her handiwork. “In the trailer when they’re sitting down having breakfast, there is this scarf-y kind of thing, it’s almost a shawl, in the background that you can see,” She said. “That’s a remnant of something that she knit from the past. It validates the fact that, yes, I used to do this, but maybe I don’t have to anymore.” Photo: Netflix
After graduating from Yale in the series, Rory returns to Stars Hallow somewhat adrift in the revival. The Gilmore daughter was always something of a formal dresser on the show, even when she wasn’t wearing a Chilton uniform, but she’s grown into a more cohesive style. “She’s traveled the world and she’s been hanging out with Logan a lot. He’s pretty worldly. He lives in England,” Maben said, noting that she imagined Rory visiting shops in Soho and incorporating a more European style into her look, especially with a new Burberry coat, which appears in several scenes in the trailer. “She’s made a little bit of money, so she spent it on a good pair of shoes,” Maben added. “They’re just a little higher end because I think that, being around her grandmother and her grandfather, she knows to buy the best and it will last. Her character is a practical person, but she leans towards the classic look so that from year to year, the style doesn’t change as much, which is why I chose the Burberry coat. Burberry’s style is so classic. It’s been around for years and years and years. With a few alterations, maybe tucked in a little, but basically the same.” Photo: Saeed Adyani//Netflix
Emily Gilmore, a WASP through and through, shows up in A Year in the Life wearing jeans and a T-shirt. “What was I thinking?” Maben laughed, adding that she was amazed that Emily’s new style showed up the teaser. But she notes that once fans see the episode in question, “it will all be crystal clear.” Emily’s new style is related to the passing of her husband Richard, played in the original series by Edward Herrmann, who died in 2014. After spending years locked in the same persona, Emily has started to experiment. While Maben won’t reveal all the details behind the change, she did note that they purposefully kept her pearl necklace and expensive earrings. “You can take away almost everything, but she’s still going to be Emily Gilmore,” Maben said. “She’s still there. She’s just taking a rest. We can take away a lot of elements, but that particular element needs to stay because that’s who Emily Gilmore is.” As for her shirt, which features a Candie’s logo? Well, there’s a specific reason it had to look a certain way, but Maben can’t reveal all the details just yet. “I had it made,” she said. “We did look for one, but couldn’t find it. It needed to look a certain way. It needed to be not in your face Candie’s, but it needed to be faded where you had to really look and say, Oh, what does that say?”  Photo: Netflix
Rest assured that, in the face of an ever-changing universe, Luke’s uniform of a plaid shirt and baseball cap is never going to change. “There was a time where we didn’t put the hat on him and it just didn’t seem Luke-ish,” Maben said. Maintaining a continuity in Luke’s look, to her mind, was key to revival. “That’s what’s endearing about the show, and I think that’s what the fans are looking forward to, is coming home,” Maben said. “Coming back to your hometown, which is Stars Hallow, and finding the same people that are still living there. The same establishments are there. He’s still here. He still has on a plaid shirt. He still has on a baseball cap.” Photo: Neil Jacobs/Netflix/Neil Jacobs/Netflix
Melissa McCarthy managed to make it back to the Gilmore set, which means that Sookie is back in her kitchen cooking up a storm. “I changed it up just a teeny bit,” Maben said of the chef’s look. “I maybe could say I flavored it a little. Now things are trimmed in leather, as opposed to cloth.” There’s also the return to Sookie’s classic coordinated bandana, which came to be a trademark for the character. It happened, as it turned out, as Maben was talking with the hair and makeup people about what to do with her hair. “You have to have something. I mean she’s in food service, and you do want to put something over the hair,” Maben said. “A hairnet was definitely not the way to go. A hat was not quite the way to go. Chefs do wear bandannas to keep perspiration from coming down onto the food and keep the hair covered. So it was just a natural evolution. The fun came with, what colors are we going to use? Are the colors going to match the outfit? Are they going to contrast the outfit? Which route do we want to go there?” Photo: Netflix
Milo Ventimiglia’s Jess returns to Gilmore Girls to give Rory some career advice, and generally seem a lot more grown up than the bad boy he used to be. “He’s matured, as do we all,” Maben said, which means that he’s also given up on some old styles. His classic leather jacket, according to Maben, probably won’t be making a return appearance. “I think he lost it,” she said. “Well, he left it at home.” His new style is more subdued, though the edge isn’t all gone. “He likes really clean lines,” she said.  “He likes button-up shirts He’s not into wearing a suit jacket or a suit, like a sports coat. He is into leather. He would possibly wear lace-up boots or pull on boots as opposed to a lace-up men’s formal shoe. He’s just that kind of regular, all-American guy.” Photo: Netflix
We see but a glimpse of Jared Padalecki’s good guy Dean in the latest Gilmore footage. He appears back in Stars Hollow wearing a fall-ready wardrobe. “I do have to say that he looks fantastic,” Maben said. “Oh, man. Oh, buddy.” Like Jess, Rory’s former high-school boyfriend has matured a lot since we last saw him, which means that, in some ways, he’s looking better than ever. “Dean’s a little more relaxed in his style,” Maben said. “He’s not afraid of color, but not bright colors. He still likes jeans, but darker jeans now, because he’s a man.”  Photo: Netflix
And then there’s Matt Czurchy’s Logan, a blue-blooded Yale grad who, in Maben’s estimation, is “all about the handmade, custom-made suits. All about the cashmere sweater. He’s all about the good things.” Logan’s a boutique guy, and quite a collector, too. “He might go to China or he might be on Savile Row,” Maben pointed out. He likes his tailored outfits, especially if they’re European-style. Photo: Netflix
Keiko Agena’s Lane is split between her obligations as a parent and her commitment to a rocker lifestyle. According to Maben, Lane has two looks: one for her everyday life and one for when she’s performing. We only see a glimpse of Lane’s drumming in the A Year in the Life trailer, but Maben promises we’ll see more in the show. The key takeaway: “Once a rocker, always a rocker.” Long live Hep Alien! Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix/Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Liza Weil’s Paris has, in Maben’s words, “evolved into her power,” as we always expected her to. We’re not sure what Paris is up to in the revival, exactly, but we know her style is as impeccably intimidating as ever. “Choice brands, clean line, solid colors, not a lot of patterns going on, good jewelry, pretty simple,” Maben said of Rory’s former rival’s look. “She always did have money, but now she has a little bit more. She’s not going to shop at the pound store or the dollar store. She’s going to go into the city and she’s going to go to probably a higher end store.” A challenge with Paris, too, was to make sure that her clothing didn’t overemphasize her character’s intensity. “The clothes on her try to be a little softer in the lines, just to give her some type of humanity,” Maben said, explaining why Paris choses a soft pink suit, rather than something red, or even navy. “There has to be something endearing about the character for people to be drawn to it. Underneath all of that, her character’s really soft and loving and open, but you just have to get to it.” Photo: Netflix
In addition to the Gilmore leads, Maben got to dress all the Stars Hollow townspeople, who return to the series just as figuratively and literally colorful as ever. She was thrilled to bring Kirk to a dinner at Emily’s house in a patterned sweater – though she couldn’t reveal why he’s there – and she promised that Michel, who appears in suit, will be as impeccably dressed as ever. “He’s French. He’s always upgraded,” she said. For the crew, as with many members of the cast, the chance to return to the show means the chance to return to an experience they loved. Maben recalled dressing Michael Winters, who played the stern Taylor Doose. “I put this combination of clothes on Taylor Doose and he stood up straight and goes, ‘Oh, hello, old friend,’” she said. “The actors haven’t held onto their characters, but it was nice to see that, when they put clothes on, they were back.” Photo: Netflix
Behind the Gilmore Girls Revival Costumes