Interview: Girlfriends Guide to Divorce Costume Designer Cynthia Summers

February 25, 2015-

By Lauren

Season 1 of Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce came to an end last night, but the fashion we grew to love is set to live on in Season 2– and in our closets. While we were busy shopping the women’s looks, GG2D Costume Designer Cynthia Summers was busy doing the leg work for us, browsing far and wide to style the looks that we saw on each of the women. So whether you are a Phoebe or an Abby, a Delia or a Lyla, she’s here to share the scoop on where to shop if you want to model your wardrobe after each of the women. Plus, she’s got all of the answers to our most urgent questions, including the clues to those must-have pieces we may not have identified and how she feels about those persistent Sex and the City comparisons.

Get the scoop on looks worn on Girlfriends Guide to Divorce Season 1 Here

Girlfriends guide to divorce photo
Photo: BravoTV.com

BigBlondeHair.com: You have quite the resume, costume designing for everything from The L Word to Halo 4 – Forward Unto Dawn. What was the first job that started you on this amazing career path?

Cynthia Summers: My very first movie job ever was an indie called Double Happiness, starring Sandra Oh. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and was fresh out of fashion design school. It was the best experience of my life!

Before that, I was heavily involved in the dance and musical theater world. It’s still one of my favorite genres!

BBH: How did you land your position styling the women on Girlfriends Guide to Divorce?

CS: Well thanks to The L Word and another fashion forward show Fairly Legal, starring Sarah Shahi (of Person Of Interest), they approached me, which was awesome. I was in negotiations for another project at the time, but clearly GG2D was something I could absolutely not turn down!

Girlfriends Guide to Divorce Fashion
Photo: BravoTV.com

 

BBH: You perfectly capture LA style with the women’s looks. Where/who do you draw your inspiration from?

CS:  Well, from LA! Say what you will about the City of Angels, but she has a lot of eye candy—so much diversity abounds in LA. I hail from the east side (Silverlake), where PHOEBES boho-east side, rocker-meets-beach-bum peeps would be. I also lived in Laurel Canyon for 5 years, which is the general area of Abbey’s house. (It has) affluent homes hanging off the side of the hills—all post modern fabulousness! And Delia? Beverly Hills all the way!

It’s all a lot of easy-wearing Cali glam. That style that looks like the women just threw it together and stepped out looking sexy, but is in fact,  insanely expensive! Everyone in LA is on the verge of success—even when their career is totally in the gutter—but could never be seen shopping like it! You have to shop at that “it” boutique or the Big 3 (Barneys, Saks and Neiman Marcus).

BBH: The women wear looks and brands that have parallels to Bravo other hit franchise The Real Housewives. Since the ‘Wives are essentially the “real life” version of GF’s Guide, do you ever draw from their looks?

CS: Well, not really, but that is a good reference point. This is Bravo’s first scripted series, and I think the process of developing characters (as opposed to the free flow of reality television) has made it obvious that, although we are following trends and are influenced by real life, we are also driven by scripts. We find our ladies in a few more situations that we don’t see on reality television, so we have to speak and dress to that.

BBH: You style the women in everything from Tom Ford to Forever 21, leaving us wondering which is more expensive at first glance. What tips do you have for making inexpensive pieces look high end?

Well, that’s a good question. Every label is capable of putting out pieces of quality, or that pop, and I think it really comes down to that. If you are trying to be of the moment, then disposable fashion—like what you may find at Forever 21— is totally worth the effort of finding and combining with quality pieces that last a lifetime (in both the physical and fashion sense of the word).

Shop wisely and broadly! I know that is hard because not everyone has a team of shoppers behind them (laughs). But shop the internet, frequent fashion bloggers (like yourself) and sites like Pintrest. Then pick up pieces that fit into your established wardrobe!

Photo: BravoTV.com

I personally love Phoebe’s boho-sexy style. What are the go-to brands and most important pieces for her character?

Everyone loves her style. Phoebe is an “East Side Mama” that exudes a boho, carefree, spirit—gliding through life looking perfect, even with bedhead. She’s the girl everyone wants to be!

For Phoebe we shopped all over! Everywhere from department stores like Barneys, Bloomingdales and Holt Renfrew to boutiques. We shopped her mostly in  LA at boutiques on 3rd Street, Beverly Blvd., Opening Ceremony, Mowhawk General Store,  Kiki de Montparnasse, Madewell, Satine and Fred Segal (now online only). 

As far as brands goes, she wears a lot of Zadig and Voltaire, Maje, Isabel Marant, Haute Hippie, Alexander McQueen, Mikal Winn and Pucci in addition to a lot of vintage.

BBH: Where else did you shop for the (other) women and what brands did you gravitate towards? 

The show films in Vancouver, Canada but since the characters in the cast differ so much, and there is such a huge volume we shopped globally!  My Assistant Designer in LA and I did a huge “closet” shop for the characters right before filming started.  Then, we did the first fittings in LA and had everything shipped off to Vancouver. We shopped ALL over the place, from the Big 3 (Barney’s, Neiman’s, Sax) to every single boutique we could find!   And also big time on line.

Girlfriends Guide to Divorce Abby
BravoTV.com

My favorite places to shop for Abby are Switch on Beverly Boulevard, boutiques on Robertson (Kitson, Gregories, All Saints and others) and designer row on Melrose Ave ( Roland Mouret, Diane Von Furstenburg, Alexander McQueen, Marni, Vivian Westwood, The Row, Herve Leger and more). Since Abbey does everything from carting around the kids to fab LA lunches, Isabel Marant tops combined with Kelly Cole skinny jeans and her must-have, elephant gray Celine tote went a long way! And her shoe collection is insane.

I shopped a huge portion of Delia’s closet in one, all day shopping spree at Gregories on Robertson. I dropped a lot of money on her wardrobe, but that is so her character! She does a lot of Herve Leger, Gucci and Balenciaga, and she has an amazing shoe collection! It’s a tie between her and Abby for who has the best shoes!

Lyla wears a lot of Helmut Lang—especially their leather pants. She also does Zadig & Voltare jackets, Donna Karen, Roberto Cavalli, DVF and Smythe. I shopped Maje and Sandro for her suits. Her look called for Splendid tees in every color!

BBH: Do you do any of the shopping in Vancouver at places you can’t find in the US? 

Yes, we go do Holt Renfrew (which is like a Barney’s or Neiman’s), The Room (hi Daria!!!), Misch, Gravity Pope, Blue Rudy, Boboli, Bluebird, Rebecca Brea and Howard for the men.   And you can also find the big brands here in Vancouver, everything from  Burberry to  James Pearse.

Holt Renfrew and The Room at The Bay have been incredibly supportive of the show!

BBH: Is your own style reflected in any of the characters?

CS: Well, I would have to say I fall somewhere between Abby and Phoebe. Abby’s look for working days, Phoebe’s for every single other day!

BBH: There are has been a buzz that Girlfriends Guide is the new, LA version of Sex and the City in terms of fashion. If you had to compare, which of the women match up with Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha?

CS: Hmm that’s tough—you know we get that question a lot. But, I think the East Coat/West Coast thing is so different, in fashion and the way people interact with the world around them! And our ladies world revolves around more traditionally real story lines.

Cynthia Summers
Costume designer Cynthia Summers

BBH: Well, we are all officially huge fans of your work. What’s on the horizon for you?

CS: That is soooo sweet!!! So ecstatic you are fan! At the moment, I am working on a new project for TNT called Proof, starring my dear friend Jennifer Beals, and produced by Kyra Sedgwick. I am so happy and blessed to be working with Jennifer again, and I am now officially a huge huge fan of Kyra’s! They are both strong, talented, beautiful women, it’s a pleasure to be in their presence every single moment. Then, as you know, back to GG2D SEASON 2! I Cannot wait!! I am beyond excited to be back with all my great cast and crew on what can only be another amazing season with Bravo!

A big thank you to Cynthia for taking the time to interview withBigBlondeHair.com!

Follow @CynthiaaSummers here on Twitter and check out her website at here CynthiaSummers.Biz

Have you seen something on the Real Housewives or any other Reality TV fashion you can’t live without? Post a comment below, tweet @BigBlondeHair or leave a comment on  The Big Blonde Hair Blog’s Facebook page

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