After months of rumors and reports of a shakeup, The Bachelorette promptly ended all the noise by dropping a new poster for Tayshia Adams' takeover from Clare Crawley.
In the photo, their new lead is wearing a skirt made up of tabloid coverage with speculation about her season. "I have to give credit where credit is due on this one. That was ABC promo," Cary Fetman said of the self-referential fashion moment. "They have this department where they come up with stuff...I may want to kill them every season, but by the time the commercial comes out and I actually see what their vision was, I just bow to them."
But actually bringing the vision to life was no easy task for Fetman.
"It wasn't even making the gown as much as it was finding somebody during this time, where nobody was open, to actually print fabric," he recalled. "I look back and think to myself, my god, to have all those colors come out so great on a roll of fabric and then have Randi take this roll and try to recreate a dress that she had done, but in her own fabric. I was really, really pleased with it."
For her grand entrance, Tayshia wore an olive halter-neck dress from Randi Rahm that was adorned with intricate beading and a low-cut back. The men, of course, lost all semblance of any chill when she walked into the room and social media proclaimed it the best gown sported by a Bachelorette on her first night.
But that sequined stunner wasn't initially the first choice for her much-anticipated arrival.
"Seeing as we had already done a night one and the fact that she wasn't going to be standing there and the limos were going to be coming up to her, but she'd be walking in instead," Fetman said. "Honestly, I thought that the white shorts with the big white skirt was really going to be a showstopper to walk in on."
Yes, the white lace ruffle gown, which was part of Randi Rahm's spring 2019 bridal collection, was Tayshia's top pick.
"But the more we kept going back and forth and the producers and stuff saying they really thought it should be treated more as first night than the way she and I were kind of doing it," Fetman explained.
Of course, the veteran costume designer eventually found the perfect opportunity for her to wear the dress in week nine. "She was never going to give that one up!"
For Tayshia's final rose ceremony, Fetman and his lead wanted to ditch the sequins and anything flashy for a classic silhouette in a baby blue hue. (Yes, he is aware it looks white.)
"I did not want anything sequiny again," he explained of the somewhat unexpected choice. "I felt like we had overdone the sequins and It wasn't just another Bachelorette flashy Randi Rahm sequin gown. The fabric on this was amazing. There's an accordion pleated chiffon that comes out of the back of her legs, the ribbon going down her back, everything about it was so sexy but just more elegant and soft. I think that's what both of us loved about it. It was just romantic."
"The truth is it was so rushed that we basically were doing fittings on her as we were getting her dressed for the episodes," Fetman explained of the fast moving behind the scenes efforts when Tayshia came in to replace Clare as the lead. "I can not tell you how many times we had to send a P.A. back to L.A. to get something tailored so we could have it back the next day or two days later. That's what Tayshia's whole season was really like."
And that meant there wasn't any time to make the tweaks and edits he normally would have during a regular season.
"There was really no room for like, 'Oh, I'd like to do this right now. I'd like to close the boob up a little bit,'" Fetman explained. "That's why sometimes there may have been a little bit more boobage than I meant. But the idea was listen, you know what, we're just going to make the best of this right now."
Despite having less time than usual for fittings throughout the season, Fetman always made sure to highlight one feature—or should we say two?
"Those legs!" Fetman exclaimed. "Boy, even when there was no slit, we certainly put one in to make sure those legs were out. Basically, it was like almost every outfit that didn't have a slit, it somehow magically got a slit."
The snake tattoo gown from Randi Rahm's 2020 fall-winter collection that Tayshia completely sold the crap out of in episode did already have that sky-high slit, but Fetman referenced it as an example of his lead's ability to sell any piece he outfitted her in.
"The truth really is Tayshia can take pretty much anything and know how to work it," he said. "She knows how to wear clothes because she loves to wear clothes."
Unlike some Bachelorettes in the past, Tayshia didn't really have a signature color or cut she relied on throughout her season, allowing Fetman to have fun with his selections and try new things.
"She had a sense of her own style, but she also wanted to play," Fetman explained of their collaborative process. "Like she said to me from the beginning, 'This is not the way I dress at home and I just want to have a good time.' So we did."
While you'd think assembling a parade of showstopping gowns would be quite the task, Fetman explained styling Tayshia during the season's casual outings was far more challenging.
"Dresses were so easy. Trying to get her into a pair of shorts is where she and I would get into more of a fight," Fetman admitted. "Going casual was hard."
Um, how was going casual hard when 2020 became the year of athleisure?!
"She loves to be dressed up," Fetman explained. "Finally I just realized she just does not like to wear casual clothes when she was on TV. That's what she wears at home, she does not want to do it on TV apparently."
And that proved to be the biggest difference between season 16's two leads because Clare was all about comfort.
"Trying to get her out of a short and tank top was, like, 'Come on, Clare, we're on national TV!'" Fetman said with a laugh. "Just completely opposites."
While viewers loved Tayshia's silver long-sleeved mini dress she rocked to see all of her suitors again at the Men Tell All special, Fetman wanted to issue a correction.
"You would think after doing it for 100 years I would recognize what happens to these colors...everybody thought she was wearing a silver dress. It was really a light teal velvet with a red undercast to it," he said. "In person it looks completely teal and on camera, even as I was watching on a monitor I was like, 'What is going on? Why is this so silver?!"
As previously mentioned, the same color confusion happened with Tayshia's finale gown, which photographed white but is actually baby blue.
You would think I wouldn't keep making that same mistake. But this season I did have a lot of those!" Fetman admitted with a laugh. "I seemed to have done a lot of these light colors that just did not look like their color."
Even though Fetman only outfits the leads, not the contestants, we had to ask for his thoughts on Brendan Morais' penchant for sporting turtlenecks during the show's more formal events.
"I love the look," Fetman shared. "I did think, I gotta give you credit because the commitment to stay in that turtleneck...it truly was still 110 [degrees] by the time we did the nighttime and the fact that he stayed in that turtleneck and not one time say, 'I'm going to go back to my room and change,' is amazing to me. But I loved the look!"
And Fetman teased that you can expect to see Matt James rock several turtlenecks during his season of The Bachelor, which kicks off on Jan. 4. "I love turtlenecks! Throughout past seasons I have always pushed a turtleneck on a guy and taken heat for it, but next season with Matt you are going to see a ton of turtlenecks."