This coming July marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of one of the biggest shows that aired in the 90’s – night time Spelling mega soap Melrose Place. Iconic characters, scenes and 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.
Early in January 2016, I with my big eyes, set out to write an e-book episode guide for Melrose Place. Recaps, episode information, character relationships, location information and wardrobe evolution were all planned for every episode but sadly, I did not realize the size of the task in front of me. With seven seasons, each containing 30 plus episodes (yes 30! None of this 13 episodes bull with a mid season break!) I realized by five episodes into season one, this was just too much to get done.
But unlike me, two fans have happily taken it upon themselves to take on a very similar and equally daunting task. 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, currently on a week to week basis per episode for their website.
Dan, 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 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.“
Currently on season one (episode four is the latest update as of writing this post), the podcasts feature funny, entertaining and tongue-in-cheek recaps of the Melrose episode along with “moral of the episode” and “favorite 90’s moment” spots at the end of each cast which are must-listen to moments!
It’s great to see someone pick-up where I could not, with recapping Melrose Place!
Now, remember that episode guide book I was planning to write? Well, the early stages of planning saw me making contact with Denise Wingate, the costume designer for 112 episodes of Melrose Place starting at Drawing The Line (S01E14) and finishing up at the very wonderful Dead Sisters Walking (S04E32).
Boasting a very impressive resume including Cruel Intentions, The Sweetest Thing and Wedding Crashers, Denise spoke to me about dressing some of our most beloved Melrose Place tenants. With the book dead in the water and this being the 25th anniversary of the Melrose Place pilot episode, it’s only befitting I share with you our chat about all things 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’s 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 1990’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, so everything I sourced 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 around so sometimes new jewelry or fashion designers would just ship me boxes of jewelry or clothing and I would buy what I liked and send back the rest.“
And did working on one of the most watched shows at the time come with dressing regulations from cast and crew? “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. 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 created for her “It was the most memorable outfit that I remember and it was a really tight form fitting lycra dress that I bought in Paris for Heather Locklear. At the last minute I decided to dye it this bright pink color, but unfortunately the dye wasn’t set and it turned her whole body bright pink. Oops! I don’t think she was too happy about that.“
Oops indeed, though for the most part, Denise happily admits her time on Melrose Place 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. She was such a wonderful evil diva and we really pushed the envelope with her D&D wardrobe as at the time, most suits were a little slouchy and conservative as seen on Alison Campbell (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.” 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, she too, started wearing “power suits” but she was a little more professional [about her look]. It wouldn’t have been her character to wear skirts as short as Amanda would wear them!”
Jane Mancini, fashion designer extraordinaire, was a fun challenge for Denise as Jane’s career (and Josie’s modelling background) allowed for the use of new designer fashion. “The character of Jane was fun, because we were able to really experiment with using up-and-coming, interesting designers on her. As Josie Bissett started her career as a model, she really knew how to wear clothes, and everything always looked fantastic on her. She was more classy than the other residents but stylized 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 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. She 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 pretty 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. I mean seriously, how many pairs of jeans and t-shirts did I 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/