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Dressing 'GLOW': A Costume Designer's Inspiration Board

Beth Morgan explains her approach to the sweatsuits and spandex of Netflix's '80s-set wrestling series.

Let's get ready to rumble...again. Netflix's '80s-set dramedy "GLOW" — based on the very real "Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling" — is stepping back into the ring for a second season (premiering June 29). Few of the show's trappings scream '80s quite like its loud, colorful threads — the handiwork of costume designer Beth Morgan, whose credits include "The Help" and "Deadwood."

"There's a ton of research," says Morgan, who scours everything from old Sears catalogues to her family's photo albums for ideas. Here, she shares with FOTO the inspirations behind the looks.

Ruth Wilder (aka "Zoya the Destroya"), played by Alison Brie Erica Parise/Netflix, Jack Mitchell/Getty Images, New World Pictures/Getty Images Ruth Wilder (aka "Zoya the Destroya"), played by Alison Brie For the show's ostensible lead, struggling-actress-turned-wrestler Ruth, Morgan selected purposeful pieces of high quality that the cash-strapped performer could wear again and again. References included Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Brooke Shields in more casual attire. "Fashion is not Ruth's forte," says Morgan. "She would probably buy more exercise clothes [because they] have a functionality. She's the only one who buys wrestling shoes in the first season as soon as she gets the money — that's what's important to her: to have things that can push her career forward." Debbie Eagan (aka "Liberty Belle"), played by Betty Gilpin Erica Parise/Netflix, Arthur Elgort/Conde Nast via Getty Images, The Denver Post via Getty Images) Debbie Eagan (aka "Liberty Belle"), played by Betty Gilpin For Ruth's frenemy, erstwhile soap star and new mom Debbie, Morgan was able to open her pocketbook a little wider. "Debbie has money and she has been around the industry and had success and understands the importance of the armor that clothing can be," says Morgan. "She's just had this baby. She wants to put off this persona that everything is perfect and that she's well put together — she's not going to go out of the house like a mess. So she's very Ralph Lauren, sandy colors and patterns. It's feminine and sweet but with a hidden strength."

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Sheila the She-Wolf, played by Gayle Rankin Erica Parise/Netflix, Tim Boxer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Harry Langdon/Getty Images Sheila the She-Wolf, played by Gayle Rankin In the world of "GLOW," one character's look remains constant in and out of the ring, and that's Sheila. In a poignant season 1 moment, Sheila reveals to Ruth that she's been dressing this way for five years. Morgan found her inspiration in drag queen Divine. "There was something about the mask of Divine and how that related to Sheila," says Morgan. "What is this mask that she's going to put on as the She-Wolf? How are we going to figure out what that is? Is it going to be dramatically over the top? The thing about Divine is she is so stunning. When you first look at her you try to figure out what is happening, basically. And there was something that spoke to me about that for Sheila." Tammé Dawson (aka "The Welfare Queen"), played by Kia Stevens Beth Dubber/Netflix, The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images, Kevin Winter/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Tammé Dawson (aka "The Welfare Queen"), played by Kia Stevens "For Tammé it was really, who would she be looking up to? She had a professional background. She's a mom. She's not like these other girls just running around in T-shirts and jeans — she's a little more thought-out and would have more true outfits that she would have worn in her other jobs," says Morgan. "So she would look at these strong black women who have been successful in facets that she thinks could be successful for her. I always think of Phylicia Rashad. Clair Huxtable was such a strong icon at the time for everybody — not just women of color — of how you can be a successful woman and a mother... Elizabeth Taylor was also a strong feminist woman. She did whatever she wanted. She's Elizabeth Taylor! So there is that aspect of all our women striving to be their own unique selves." Melanie Rosen (aka "Melrose"), played by Jackie Tohn Erica Parise/Netflix, Gene Shaw/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images Melanie Rosen (aka "Melrose"), played by Jackie Tohn If it weren't obvious from the moment Melrose stepped on screen, the party girl considers the Queen of Pop a kindred spirit. "The Madonna of '84, '85 is very different from the Madonna of our memories," says Morgan. "It's way more toned down, like 'Desperately Seeking Susan' — it's not the 'Like a Prayer' Madonna. There is a little bit more of a mess to this Madonna than the polished Madonna of a couple of years later." Jenny Chey (aka "Fortune Cookie"), played by Ellen Wong Erica Parise/Netflix, Harry Langdon/Getty Images Jenny Chey (aka "Fortune Cookie"), played by Ellen Wong For one of the troupe's youngest performers, Morgan opted for fun, cheery colors exemplified here by perennial '80s inspiration Cher. "It's so interesting — what you learn about Cher when you're doing '80s research is that she's a chameleon. She somehow fits on Sheila the She-Wolf's board and Jenny's board. It makes no sense. They're two very different characters. But that's the glory of Cher. Cher is very versatile. So for Jenny, we were keeping the color palette more innocent and soft. She's our Valley girl, who is more on trend and would read Tiger Beat magazine and has a youthful innocence to her." Rhonda Richardson (aka "Britannica"), played by Kate Nash Erica Parise/Netflix, Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images Rhonda Richardson (aka "Britannica"), played by Kate Nash The decade's most ubiquitous exerciser found her way on to several of Morgan's inspiration boards, but the purest manifestation of the Jane Fonda aesthetic has to be English model Rhonda. "Jane Fonda's workout was such a touchstone — my mom had it on laser disc or whatever that was," says Morgan. "So I had a strong identification with Jane Fonda, and she was one of the first people I looked up. She's such an iconic feminist and leader that, for our women, it felt like the right thing to tie her into our look... Leotards are really the yoga pants of the '80s. To us it seems bizarre, but it was just what they wore to the gym."



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