Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long has had a very prolific year in television. The man behind some of Broadway's most iconic looks took on two high-profile TV projects this year: Fox's highly regarded Grease: Live, and now the network's remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Both are based on films that are firmly implanted in the public consciousness—and in the case of Rocky Horror, recreated on a weekly basis all around the world at midnight showings. So one of the first things Long wanted to do with RHPS: Let's Do the Time Warp Again was pay tribute to the work of Sue Blane.
"She is the great living British designer who designed Rocky Horror Picture Show," Long tells E! News. "All those iconic costumes are hers. When one is employed to revive something like this, like with Grease: Live or with Rocky Horror—and I did them back to back—you ask the producers and the director are we homaging? Are we referencing? Or are we totally reimagining? Obviously with Grease: Live we were homaging and we were referencing. We had 600 costumes and some of them refer to the original film, not the Broadway stage version, but the rest I made up. But a few places I touched base. That's homage."
But with Rocky Horror, "the idea was to reimagine it because we were doing a 40th year tribute. We were paying homage after 40 years of it being a hit. When you're doing a revival, you're only doing a revival because the original was a smash hit—so you don't want to throw the baby completely out with the bath water."
Take Laverne Cox's Dr. Frank-N-Furter, played in the original movie by Tim Curry. In this version, Frank is a trans woman. "He's famous for his corset. When you think Tim Curry [in RHPS] you think corset, fishnets," Long says. "So I had to imagine a full corset, because remember our Dr. Frank-N-Furter has breasts—she's a woman—so that corset has to cover. Tim's barely kept his middle covered, and he definitely wore fishnets."
Since black fishnets don't make as big a visual statement on darker skin, something he learned while designing Chicago on Broadway, he decided to create his own pattern for Cox to wear. "I thought, what is our version of a fishnet? And I said, I want to do cobwebs. So I designed a full body stocking [of] cobwebs. If you look at Laverne in her various looks you'll see it's on her shoulders, all down her arms, and on her legs. And the idea is that is what Transylvania did to her. That's how she is a Transylvanian."
Long looked to a small, husband-and-wife-run fetish shop in Toronto, where the remake was filmed, to create the cobweb stocking that pops up in many looks throughout the film. The leather jackets that several characters wear were also made locally.
The designer, who hasn't worked in film nearly as much as stage, says he ultimately hopes his costumes will be embraced by both Rocky Horror virgins and superfans alike.
"I'm a little nervous because there are 42 years [of RHPS history]. Isn't that something? So when you've got something that iconic, two things: First, we try to reimagine it. But secondly, you're going to have a huge fanbase that is going to be loyal for very good reason because it's a classic," Long says. "So we're going to have two sets of people: The fresh people who are coming in who have not been in that fanbase, and then the fans. I'm just holding my breath that the fans will like our tribute."
For more details on how Long crafted every Rocky Horror look—from Dr. Frank-N-Furter's multiple corsets to Janet's blue wedding suit—click through the gallery above!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again airs Thursday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. on Fox.