This coming July marks the 25th anniversary of the pilot episode of one of the hottest and arguably one of the most iconic television shows that aired in the 90’s – night time Spelling mega soap Melrose Place. Crazy characters, iconic and shocking scenes and memorable quotes have stood the test of time and now, with all episodes streaming on Hulu, Melrose is in the middle of a current day resurgence with younger audiences hopping on the Melrose train, taking in the fashion and life that was L.A in the 90’s.
To mark this occasion, there’s a brand new Melrose Place recap podcast coming our way! L.A based couple Jenny and Dan Hill have begun, from season one, to re-watch each and every episode of Melrose Place and podcast their hilarious and witty episode recaps, available on a week to week basis available via their website (plus wherever you get your podcast episodes from!)
Dan, also a co-host on The Dan & Kody Podcast, spoke to me via email about the project.
“I really fell in love with the re-watch podcast format where one or two people will watch a movie or TV show and analyze/ re-cap every aspect of the movie or show. I really wanted to find a show that my wife and I had a connection to, but haven’t seen much of. Melrose Place was the perfect fit.
I was 10 years old when Melrose Place first aired, but I remember sneaking to watch it without my parent’s permission with my sister. Growing up it was our guilty pleasure and I suspect there are many other like me who share this. Being 10, I was way too young to wrap my head around what was truly going on once the show got into the thick of things, but I held onto bits and pieces of a few story lines that I to this day find fascinating!”
So just what story lines are Dan and Jenny looking forward to re-watching and recapping? For Dan, it’s Michael’s (Thomas Calabro) downward spiral into TV villain along with Kimberly’s (Marcia Cross) ‘psychotic shenanigans’ while for wife and co-host Jenny, it’s the complex run of ever evolving relationships between the characters.
When asked about podcast release time Dan says “With a 6 month old, we’re hoping to record and release one episode per week covering one episode of the show. This could be a 5 year run, but we’re up for the challenge! Maybe as our little one gets older it will become easier to record more frequently. We also want to sprinkle in episodes that spotlight one character where we break them down and cover their story arc.“
The Melrose Place Podcast is currently on season one (episode four is the latest update as of writing this), the podcasts feature funny, entertaining and tongue-in-cheek recaps of the Melrose Place episode along with special “moral of the episode”, “alternate titles” and “favorite 90’s moment” spots at the end of each episode which are must-listen to moments!
When thinking about Melrose Place and its position in the television timeline landscape (namely the early to mid 90’s) fashion played a huge part in not only the show but in creating the characters and their place within the series. From copious amounts of crushed velvet to teeny tiny mini skirts, white singlets and floral prints to pastel twin sets, Melrose has a very distinctive 90’s look.
The woman behind those looks – costume designer Denise Wingate (who’s resume also includes Cruel Intentions, The Sweetest Thing and Wedding Crashers) worked on the show for a total of 112 episodes starting at Drawing The Line (S01E14) and finishing up at the very wonderful Dead Sisters Walking (S04E32) spoke to me via email about her run with Melrose, how working on a show in the 90’s was very different from today, 90’s power suits and wedding dresses bound for a watery cat fight.
After being involved with over 100 episodes of Melrose Place that aired twenty years ago and then moving from production to production in the years after, it is no surprise Denise’s memory is a little bit foggy when asked about some of the iconic outfits worn during the shows run.
“I have to admit that half of the costumes I don’t even remember. It’s amazing how digital cameras and computers have changed how I document my work now!” she says before getting into how sourcing costumes back in the 90’s was a lot more hard work than it is these days.
“I used to take our Christmas hiatus and travel to Europe or Asia and tried to find some interesting fashions and fabrics and bring them back to use on the show. You have to remember this was before the internet where fashion is everywhere and readily available, so everything I sourced for each character would have to be with my own eyes. Our stages were about 30 miles outside of Los Angeles and there wasn’t really any shops close-by so sometimes I’d rely on new jewelry or fashion designers shipping me boxes of work where I would buy what I liked and thought would work well with a certain character and just send back the rest.“
And did working on one of the most watched shows at the time come with wardrobe regulations from cast and/or producers? “I don’t remember any rules or guidelines I had to adhere to from the producers. At the time I was on the show, the ratings were huge and the fashion was getting a lot of press, so they just figured if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. Basically, they pretty much let me do whatever I wanted. I had a great time!” Though the same can’t be said about Heather Locklear and a certain pink dress Denise had specially created for her. “It was the most memorable outfit that I remember from my time on the show and it was a really tight form fitting white Lycra dress that I bought in Paris just for Heather Locklear. It was amazing and I knew she would look incredible in it. Though, at the last minute, not being happy with the white, I decided to dye it this bright pink color, but unfortunately the dye had not set properly before she wore it and the dyed dress just turned her whole body bright pink. Memorable for me though I don’t think Heather was too happy about that.“
For the most part, Denise happily admits her time on Melrose Place and dressing the cast was filled with fun times. “In real life Daphne Zuniga who played Jo and I were friends, so it was always fun shopping or doing fittings with her and I still run into Laura Leighton from time to time and it is always such a joy to see her!”
So how about the characters themselves? When asked about Amanda’s entrance on the show in season one, Denise says she relished the chance to shake things up when it came to her D&D Advertising power wardrobe. “The dynamics of the show really changed when Heather Locklear joined the cast as Amanda. This character was such a wonderful evil diva and we were able to really push the envelope with her professional wardrobe as at that time, most suits were a little slouchy, conservative and beige such as what is seen on Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith). We kept making Amanda’s suits tighter and shorter and as Heather had such a great figure, she could really rock that short skirt look but still appear professional.” Denise also notes how Alison’s wardrobe became a little more dynamic when she took over the role as D&D President from Amanda “When Alison takes over, we felt she would take inspiration from Amanda’s wardrobe so she too started wearing “power suits” but we thought she would be much more professional [about her look] so it wouldn’t have been in her character to wear her skirts as short or as tight fitting as Amanda would wear them.“
Jane Mancini (Josie Bissett), ‘fashion designer extraordinaire’, was a fun challenge for Denise as Jane’s career (and Josie’s modelling background) allowed for the use of new and upcoming designers that would sometimes push the envelope of current era fashion . “The character of Jane was fun, because we were able to really experiment with using up-and-coming, interesting and eclectic designers on her. As Josie started her career as a model, she really knew how to wear clothes, and everything always looked fantastic on her. We saw Jane as being somewhat more classy than the other residents but in a stylized way and it suited her character. I had a lot of fun creating her outfits every week and she just made my job so easy.”
That ‘easy’ that Denise talks about also comes up when talking about Laura Leighton’s Sydney Andrews who made the transition from bratty little sister with a penchant for leather jackets to trashy hooker to sassy stripper to 60’s go-go girl to polished business woman throughout her time on the show. “When Sydney arrived on the scene, things really heated up and I just loved Laura Leighton as she was game for anything we put on her. Laura loved wearing the period, kooky outfits and managed to carry off even the craziest of outfits with a sense of humor and style not many people could get away with. I loved dressing Sydney just for the sheer absurdity of some of the costumes we chose!” And THAT wedding dress that Sydney wore that ended up in the Melrose Place pool? “I can’t remember the name of the shop the wedding dress came from (it’s no longer in business) I just remember that we needed multiples, I think a total of 5 for multiple takes. It ended up looking perfect though!”
And it wasn’t all about the ladies either as Denise is quick to point out. “The guys were generally easy to dress and they already had their own specific styles and also very large closets, so we could just pull from those every week for whatever was needed. I mean seriously, how many pairs of jeans and white t-shirts did I really need to buy Jake every week?!. That being said, all of the guys on the show were really nice and super fun and easy to work with.”
For more information about Dan and Jenny Hill’s Melrose Place podcast endeavor, or to download the podcast, hit their social media links below!
iTunes – https://goo.gl/1PZPcD
GooglePlay – https://goo.gl/cxtxjT
Stitcher – https://goo.gl/54w8PA
Website –https://themelroseplacepodcast.simplecast.fm Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MelrosePod/ Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/melrosepod/ Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/melrosepod/