High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has made a big impression on fans. The songs, the characters, the storylines – and especially the clothing! The outfits on set are thanks to the show’s costume designer Blair Levin. And Blair told us about what it’s like to style characters and actors on the show. Check out what she told us about being costume design for the show’s first season. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for season two!
Young Entertainment Mag: How did you get involved with High School Musical: The Musical: The Series?
Blair Levin: I previously worked with the show’s producer Oliver Goldstick on Ravenswood which was a spin-off of Pretty Little Liars. That was also a high school series.
YEM: What was your favorite part about working on the set?
Blair: I really enjoy what I do. I love being a costume designer. What I love is seeing the whole picture together. I started as a stylist in fashion. This to me is a way to express a whole vision. It’s all the characters on set at the same time. You have to figure out who goes with what, etc. That to me is the best part.
YEM: Are their any challenges you faced on this project?
Blair: Originally, the project was supposed to be skewed older, for ages 14-16. Once we started, the dynamic changed and became for a younger audience of ages 10-12. That was challenging because it changed the characters a bit. So we scaled it back and took it into that other direction.
YEM: Which character was your favorite to work on?
Blair: What I love about this show is all the characters have their own personality. It has the feeling of The Breakfast Club – the princess, EJ the jock, Ricky’s the skater, Ashlyn is kind of hippie/Free People vibe. Everyone had their own personality. That’s what I enjoy best as a costume designer, when a character really stands on their own. And you can dress each person as an individual. That’s always fun for me because you can take that a step further.
YEM: Do the actors get input on what they wear?
Blair: They do, it always depends on the project. If you have producers or directors who know what they want, you might go in a certain direction. Versus some producers and directors who allow that actor to shine. And I always find that you want the actor to like the clothes. You don’t want to pull them out of their character.
YEM: And the clothes can help them get in to their role.
Blair: Exactly. I always try to start the fitting by saying, “pick what you like the best and we’ll work around those pieces.” Because you want to have them on the same page as you.
YEM: Do you have a costume you’re most proud of in Season 1?
Blair: I like the performance pieces, where everyone’s singing and dancing. I like the outfits that push the boundaries.
YEM: Do you think the costumes from Season 1 worked well for the characters?
Blair: I think so. The fact that you can see a character’s personality is shining through, that’s my goal.
YEM: What is important when it comes to costume design in any show?
Blair: For me, the costumes should be effortless. You never want to be pulled out of the show unless you’re supposed to be. To me, the goal of the costume designer is make sure you don’t leave the moment.
YEM: If you could’ve been a costume designer on any show or movie in the past, what would you choose?
Blair: I would pick a period piece from the 70s or the 80s. Something like a Studio 54. I would’ve loved to do Fame, which is a dancing movie. I really like when the characters are their own, much like in The Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles. That genre for me is interesting because that’s when I grew up, and it’s fun. I gravitate towards that.
YEM: What would you say is the highlight of your career so far?
Blair: I don’t know if there’s one specific moment that stands out. I started as a stylist, I did fashion, so I was in music for a long time. I was Mariah Carey’s stylist and a couple other big artists. So I got to travel around the world and see different cultures. That was really exciting. Then when I transitioned to costume designer, I could stay in one place and focus on different things. To be on tour being a costume designer, it’s the whole picture. That’s what I like the best, being able to create a whole vision where everything works together. Every project is different, every project has its challenges. But I enjoy the high school genre. Keeping it together and creating a cohesive scene in whatever I’m doing.
YEM: What was the funniest thing you’ve overheard or seen behind the scenes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series?
Blair: The cast has all their inside jokes, and they’re very close. They were excited and for a lot of them, it was their first big project. One that was fun was when we saw flashbacks of the teacher Mr. Mazzara, when he had a band. I love both the teachers and how Miss Jen interacts with everything. It’s just a really fun set. Everyone gets along and likes each other.
YEM: Finally, do you have a fashion tip you live by?
Blair: My perfect fashion tip would be: be comfortable in what you wear. When you’re comfortable in your clothes, you really shine. For me, it’s the perfect pair of jeans and the perfect t-shirt. When you feel good you give out a better energy because you’re happy. You never want the clothes to wear you.