The Idol Costume Designer Natasha Newman-Thomas Details the Dark, Twisted Fantasy of the Fashion

Costume designer Natasha Newman-Thomas offered behind-the-scenes details about The Idol's risqué fashion and how the clothes tell their own stories.

By Alyssa Morin Jun 05, 2023 1:00 AMTags
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Behind the glitz and glamour of The Idol costumes lies an ugly truth. 

Sam Levinson's new HBO series shines a light on the sinister side of fame, as it centers on aspiring, troubled pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) and her complicated relationship with modern cult leader Tedros (Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye).

To play up the dark, twisted fantasy of the show, costume designer Natasha Newman-Thomas revealed that the fashion is intentionally meant to be a little scandalous.

"We wanted to bring a sense of darkness and sleaziness," she exclusively told E! News. "You don't always see pop stars or the underbelly of the music world portrayed in that way."

Take Jocelyn's risqué costumes, for example. Her clothes might show a lot of skin but the reality is that it's meant to distract from who she really is.

"There's an innate mystery to anyone you idolize," Natasha pointed out. "You see the façade and the persona, but there's a mystery to what goes on behind the scenes. It's meant for you to not see how hard it is."

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Moreover, she explained that Jocelyn's attention-grabbing wardrobe is supposed to feel out-of-reach and impractical. 

"If you're a pop star on that level," Natasha noted, "you have to wear clothes that are unattainable to keep that fantasy status. We wanted to get the point across that she's not a normal person."

Eddy Chen/HBO

And as fashion is a key element to Jocelyn's persona, fans will see her style evolve throughout the series, offering clues to her character's newfound sense of empowerment—even if it's only a front since she is being manipulated by those in her inner circle.

But, as the costume designer explained, Jocelyn doesn't exactly take charge of her own destiny in the beginning. It's not until she realizes her potential that she projects that confidence through her clothes.

"There's definitely a narrative arc to it that changes after she meets Tedros," Natasha hinted. "We wanted to portray her transformation through the clothes and sensibility toward harnessing power."


As for what inspired Jocelyn's costumes and this make-believe illusion of her real-life issues? Well, Natasha turned to fashion greats like the late Thierry Mugler and Jean Paul Gaultier.

"They all have traditional sensibilities but with their own twist," she said, "and they don't really follow trends, they set trends. We were going for something to create a new kind of timeless look, a new iconic superstar."

With all the buzz ahead of the new series, it's clear the costumes will be ones to watch. 

The Idol premieres June 4 on HBO and will stream on Max.

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