Costume designer Molly Maginnis doesn't only select the clothes for the cast of NBC's hit series "Smash," she also designs some of them.
"My favorite thing (about my job) is getting to design clothes again and costumes and doing big musical numbers," she says. "I started in theater on Broadway and became a film designer, and this has everything I'm interested in. I also like the stories."
The scope of the stories is what provides the biggest challenge for Maginnis because each episode spans four to six days in the lives of the characters.
"It's like doing a Broadway show and a movie every single week," she says. "It's like 200 outfits for each show. We shoot an episode every eight days. While I'm doing one, I am preparing the next two. My main challenge beyond the sheer volume is to always be true to our characters, to always be either designing or selecting clothes that speak to the character and what the scene is about and assist the actors in making the character real for them and the audience. ... You might be getting a vintage sweater and putting together with an Alexander McQueen dress and Ugg boots. It has to feel like that character would buy and wear these things. So you have to find the truth when you're choosing the wardrobe, and I think the audience knows."
Maginnis describes a few of the memorable looks from the beginning of the season:
"I designed this dress and had it custom-made for Kat (Katharine McPhee). This was really an amalgamation of looks - Marilyn Monroe wearing dresses in her films and singing for the president - and it's for a number called '20th Century Fox Mambo.' I wanted her to look like the late '40s bombshell, postwar '40s glamour girls when Marilyn emerged. It has to do with being curvy - a very hourglass, womanly figure. The dress is a stretch fabric with tiny gold sequins and the straps are trimmed with pearl and diamante rhinestones. Those gloves are from a company in New York called Sermoneta that specializes in handmade gloves from Italy. They are kid leather opera gloves, very glamorous."
"This is a vintage sweater and a pair of black shorts from the '40s from one of my favorite vintage dealers called The Cats Pajamas located in Pennsylvania. She has great stuff. It's for a number called 'Let Me Be Your Star' that's all about Norma Jean before she becomes Marilyn Monroe, that kind of longing of a young girl, so I wanted something very youthful and kind of sweet. You see her figure but it's not aggressive. It's the pretty young girl trying to take the next step."
"The cherry dress was inspired by 'The Misfits,' one of the last films Marilyn did. She wore a silk dress that has cherries on it that was very tight. This dress we used here is the modern, cotton-stretch version of what was a very draped silk satin dress from the '60s. The leather jacket gives it kind of a downtown girl feel. You put together two things that are kind of incongruous but at the same time they speak to the reality of the character. The cherries remind her of 'Misfits,' the dress makes her feel sexy and the leather jacket is who she is. A pair of nude pumps makes the leg look nice and long, and it has the feeling of a period shoe, a very simple, classic pump that you could have worn in the '40s, '50s or '60s."