Clueless costume designer shares the stories behind the film's fashion

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Stacey Dash as Dionne Davenport and Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz. Photo: Instagram / Clueless
Stacey Dash as Dionne Davenport and Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz. Photo: Instagram / Clueless
  • Clueless costume designer Mona May, says the dress that allowed for the now iconic phrase, "this is an Alaïa" was very hard to get.
  • She adds that she had to be creative with the script when it came to the Calvin Klein slip dress that was paired with a matching sheer shirt she designed. 
  • Mona partnered with Shilla Kim-Parker of Thrilling, an online vintage market place, for a fashion collection inspired by her film work. 

Costume designer Mona May, reveals the inspiration behind Clueless' fashion. She is also known for her work in other films, including Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Never Been Kissed, and other formative teenage movies that have great clothes. 

The inspiration for the plaid suits

"The huge inspiration was always Amy Heckerling - the director - who wrote the script. The yellow suit was in the opening of the movie and the colour was really important because the opening of this scene of the movie was [the] quad, a lot of people were crossing, a lot of greenery and we tried different colours and they were beautiful, but the yellow was really the pop she needed - kind of the queen, the sunshine - the energy of yellow is so beautiful.

"It was really was kind of taking something that is so iconic as a school uniform, but taking it to a whole other level that Cher would. And plaid to me, I love plaid... forever," says Mona. 

READ MORE: 11 things you didn’t know about your favourite ‘90s movies 

The gym scene

"Again, going from the real, which is PE (phys ed) uniform usually is black and white - usually you have the black shorts and the white t-shirt. So, what would Cher do?

"Cher had her white t-shirt and I think it's so funny because it was the black little strappy tank top, which is, now you can buy it as a set. She was very couture, she was very put together, everything was very precise so it was very simple.

"But then Dionne, what would Dionne wear? She had the tuxedo shirt and she had the sheer sleeves to match and her little skirt and of course, her matching white beeper. She's a little bit like city-girl-meets-grunge, so she has her little bandana. So, again, really going with the character of each of the girls.

"Of course, Amber, my fashion victim. It's almost like a 1920s bathing suit. People have to remember, this was pre-computers, I didn't have Style.com - resources were much different then." 

READ MORE: Ready? Okay! Halle Berry, Chrissy Teigen, Kendall Jenner and other celebs who were once cheerleaders 

'This is an Alaïa'

"The Alaïa dress was so hard to get. We wanted something very special for her Christmas party - something very Cher but kind of pushing the envelope, a little bit more sexy. She was always very proper, nothing was ever too low.

"She knew she was going to go down on the ground so when I was reaching out to the Alaïa group I said, 'would you, could you borrow because we don't have the kind of money to buy the dress but you know she may be on the ground, what if the dress gets damaged?'. They were like 'we love it, we love Alicia Silverstone' so they lent us the dress. 

"There was no PR firms at the time sending clothes to you, none of that was around. And we had to return it, so I'm telling you when he's putting the gun to her [she's] on the floor, we had to clean the floor, vacuum the floor, lick the floor, you know. 

View this post on Instagram

Cher "oh no you don't understand, this is an Alaia"

A post shared by CLUELESS ?? AS IF! (@cluelessthemovie) on

READ MORE: Kim K's latest "ridiculous" outfits are actually archival pieces of high fashion

Calvin Klein look

"There's something written in the script but I'm able to bring to the table options and really play with it because we had a bunch of different stuff in the fitting and that was more negligee or more like a slip that was tight that was spandex and it just wasn't right for Cher because it was just too sexy and she would never do it. So when we found the Calvin Klein spaghetti strap dress it was kind of more cotton-ey, it wasn't shiny. It looked like lingerie, but it was a dress. I think that was very important - it was very innocent as well." 

READ MORE: An ode to TV's It girls who seemingly dressed beyond their means and the stylists who made them so

Mona has now partnered with Shilla Kim-Parker, the founder and CEO of online vintage store - Thrilling, for a special collection of once-off pieces that are inspired by Mona's film work.

"Thrilling is a market place for vintage and secondhand stores around the [U.S.]. We partner with small mom and popup shops - your local, independent, secondhand and vintage stores in your community, help them go online - most of them are going online for the very first time. Our mission is to help bring them new customers all around the world to get the privileges of shopping their hand-selected, curated, and beautiful vintage and secondhand gems. And also to spread the gospel of vintage and help popularise secondhand shopping - make it more accessible, more delightful, and more fun and relevant for shoppers around the world," says Shilla.

Story credit: TCA/Page Six Style

Compiled by Phelokazi Mbude

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