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“She wants to be different. Whether it’s a Michael Jackson-inspired red leather Alexander McQueen jacket or sky-high, Louboutin ankle boots, anything goes. She’s just never going to be in skinny jeans.” Befitting her sassy, sexy personality, Marissa will flaunt pieces from designers and firms known for their body-conscious styles, such as Altuzarra and Preen. “She’s the one in the red dress when everyone else is in black. She will always stand out,” said Broecker.
To gather all of these looks, Broecker turned to magazines like W and British Elle for inspiration, and scoured the latest collections on Style.com. His fall favorites included Givenchy couture and Rodarte, and he hopes to include them in looks for upcoming episodes.
Like their costume designer, Paxton and Madekwe are going through a crash course themselves. “This is the first time I’ve actually met people in the industry or worn designer clothes,” said Paxton. “I have never even been to a fashion show. I just can’t even believe I get to live this life without actually living it. I’m superexcited to wear awesome clothes and meet amazing people. I knew nothing except for buying magazines at the grocery store.” Madekwe, who was drawn to the series because of its emphasis on fashion, had only been to graduate fashion shows in London, but was a voracious fashion magazine consumer. “I read every magazine, even the ones from France and Italy,” she said. “I don’t even care if I can’t understand them. My bag is full of a bunch of pictures that I’ve ripped out.”
Fittingly for both actresses, their own sartorial fare has changed with exposure to the series. Just like Raina, Paxton is also finding her fashion footing. She prefers a more eclectic style and mixes high-end labels such as Chloé with fast-fashion labels including Topshop. On the set of this shoot, she shrieked over tougher pieces, including a jewel-encrusted Tom Binns skull necklace and leopard-print Louboutins, which she said are “like Jesus.”
Like her character Marissa, Madekwe, for her part, is a bit more fashion-forward. She prefers Alexander Wang, and declares herself the ultimate bag lady. “I have more Balenciaga handbags than one person should own,” she said. “I will always sacrifice clothing for the bags.” However, she was intrigued by an architectural corset minidress by young designer Frank Tell. Overall, Madekwe is loving that her relationship with fashion will change as a result of “The Beautiful Life.” “I hope,” she said, “that we become better friends than we already are.”