CW’s Nancy Drew is Ditching the Headbands, Costume Designer Says

CW's Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew books, Kennedy McMann, Nancy Drew outfit, Nancy Drew fashion, Paley Center for Media, Paley Previews, lookbook, fall fashion, TV costume design, TV costume, Brittany Griffin, TV pilot, Keeping it Krischic, Kristin Vartan, Maddison Jaizani, Lydia Lewis

Emma Roberts fans may characterize Nancy Drew by her collection of preppy headbands, but no longer—CW’s Nancy Drew is revamping the iconic detective’s storyline and style. The creators are giving the show some supernatural elements (a ghost!) and leaving headbands out of the series premiere (without lack of trying them on in costume fittings!).

“I spoke to a lot of big Nancy Drew fans, and they expressed frustration with how Nancy Drew has been depicted as a prissy and too put together. They felt that that is not who she was as a person,” Brittany Griffin, Nancy Drew pilot costume designer told Krischic Media. “She is a trailblazer. She’s doing things ‘girl shouldn’t be doing,’ especially when the books were released. We wanted to give Nancy her own edge and take away some of the frilly fussiness she’s been given in the past.”

Kennedy McMann, who plays Nancy Drew in the show further expressed how this storybook sleuth has evolved for a 21st century audience during the Nancy Drew Paleyfest Previews Panel and pilot screening last weekend. This Nancy is calloused with the wounds of losing her mother in addition to dealing with the average 18-year-old’s growing pains. 

“It’s very refreshing, because she’s not a perfect girlfriend, perfect daughter, perfect robot detective girl,” McMann said.She’s someone who is trying to put the pieces of life together as she grows up, as she figures out who she is. That includes experimenting with what is right and what’s not. I’m glad we’re not shying away from it.”

Nancy is a redheaded spitfire, figuratively and literally. Griffin points out that McMann’s fiery strands perfectly offset a shade we’ll be seeing Nancy in a lot: ‘Nancy Drew Blue.’ Griffin referred to the original 1930s book covers and 1970s TV show for much of the design inspiration. She finally settled on the hue after perusing a plethora of blue swatches with production designer, Mark White.

“There’s this very specific blue color that seemed so her, and it just so happened that the house they ended up picking for the Drew house exterior was Nancy Drew blue too!” Griffin told Krischic Media.

Griffin also looked to the book covers when styling Nancy’s besties, Bess (Maddison Jaizani) and George (Lydia Lewis) for the pilot. The unlikely trio are predominantly in their waitress uniforms during the pilot, each girl outfitted in the color the characters are iconized in on the cover of Nancy Drew, The Ghost of Blackwood Hall. Bess dawns red, Georgia green and Nancy of course in ‘Nancy Drew blue.’ But once triad are off their shift, their styles further diverge than just in color.

CW's Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew books, Kennedy McMann, Nancy Drew outfit, Nancy Drew fashion, Paley Center for Media, Paley Previews, lookbook, fall fashion, TV costume design, TV costume, Brittany Griffin, TV pilot, Keeping it Krischic, Kristin Vartan
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“We wanted to give the feel that these people would have never been friends if it weren’t for the ongoings of the pilot,” Griffin told Krischic Media. 

Where Nancy Drew’s wardrobe features hints of her ‘30s and ‘70s roots like high-waisted, flared leg trousers, Betty has a ‘90s revival meets preppy rich girl aesthetic.

“I pulled from a lot of ‘90s supermodel images because she has a very Instagram-based style: Hailey Bieber-meets Claudia Schiffer-meets country club,” Griffin gushed to Krischic Media.

 And at the pilot preview, Krischic Media did learn that Bess comes with an unexpected quirk: thievery.

“A lot of her stuff can’t be hers, so check your pockets!” Jaizani jested on the panel. “She’s sweet and clumsy, but there’s this whole hidden side that’s going to evolve with who she is and who she wants to be. It’s not just this wall of nice clothes, nice shoes and stolen goods. There’s a lot of difficult stuff going on in her life too.”

CW's Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew books, Kennedy McMann, Nancy Drew outfit, Nancy Drew fashion, Paley Center for Media, Paley Previews, lookbook, fall fashion, TV costume design, TV costume, Brittany Griffin, TV pilot, Keeping it Krischic, Kristin Vartan, Maddison Jaizani, Lydia Lewis
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Maybe something more frightening than Bess stealing your stuff? Lucy Sabil’s (Stephanie Van Dyk) ghost! And she’ll be wearing haute couture that may haunt audiences for the rest of the season.

“What’s funny is the actress that plays her is truly the nicest person I’ve ever met. She’s like, ‘hi, you want me to do this over here? Okay!’ but she looks horrifying in the scene,” McMann exclaims during the panel. “I saw her without her makeup on for the first time a couple days ago and was like, ‘Stephanie! You are such a lovely looking person!”

Sabil is seen falling off a cliff at the beginning of the Nancy Drew trailer, and she has a large role, dead or alive to play in the show’s pilot—and the rest of the series. So, no time was spared in her trimmings while making her descent.

“Her falling off a cliff happened in 2000, so I bought a Seventeen Magazine ‘Prom Edition’ from the year 2000 on EBay. I then did major research on what was the most popular celebrity dress at the time, and it was Gwyneth Paltrow’s 1999 pink Oscars dress. I combined the silhouette of Gwyneth’s dress with the neckline from Seventeen Magazine.” Griffin told Krischic Media.

CW's Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew books, Kennedy McMann, Nancy Drew outfit, Nancy Drew fashion, Paley Center for Media, Paley Previews, lookbook, fall fashion, TV costume design, TV costume, Brittany Griffin, TV pilot, Keeping it Krischic, Kristin Vartan, Maddison Jaizani, Lydia Lewis

Not that it was a ‘nightmare’ to create, but Griffin did point out that the beauty queen and eventual ghost’s costumes took the most amount of time to construct.

“The materials I used also tell the story of her falling off the cliff. I wanted to make sure the dress moved a certain way when she’s falling. You also see later this ghost in the same dress that has been distressed. We made three dresses, and all three versions are featured in the trailer. All completely different but based on the same design.”

Your first ‘look’ at CW’s Nancy Drew can in the trailer above, until the series premiere October 9 on CW.

Written by Kristin Vartan, Reporting by Kristin Vartan and Mari Makatsaria

Photos inspired Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase Book Cover (pictured) and shot by Octobr

Keeping it Krischic,

Kristin Vartan

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Forward thinker with a Vintage Soul. Editor and traveller with a love affair with words and whimsical wardrobes. Follow me on my journey to amazing sights through the lens of personal style.

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