Inside the Grease: Live Fashion, From Sandy's Sexy Leather Look to Marty's Cinderella Moment

Exclusive: Costume Designer William Ivey Long spills his secrets from set

By Jean Bentley Jan 28, 2016 9:54 PMTags
Related: "Grease: Live" Gals Love '50s Fashion!

Get ready for poodle skirts, bullet bras and major transformations when Grease: Live airs this Sunday.

"We are making it very much of today. It's the ‘50s with grace notes," Grease: Live's Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long tells E! News. "For example, our high school is completely diverse. So that's different. That's actually, I think, the most important angle that's different."

While the costumes you'll see will share plenty of DNA with their predecessors in the Grease film and stage musical, Long has updated the looks to make them feel a little more contemporary. "From my point of view, I'm making the [clothes] a little tighter. If you think about blue jeans in the 1950s, they were called dungarees. They were work clothes and they weren't tight-fitting. We want the guys to be really sexy dudes so they're tighter fitting. And all the ladies' dresses I've made a little tighter-fitting, a little more body-conscious."

Everything will pop on screen thanks to his Norman Rockwell-esque color palette. "No one painted middle America like he, and you have to have those wonderful colors because otherwise Danny Zuko and his crowd and the Pink Ladies can't be the rebels. You have to have a general palette of normal against which you see the T-Birds, the Scorpions and the Pink Ladies."


E! News got the ladies of the show to talk about their favorite '50s looks, then got Long to spill some secrets about how he created the costumes. Check out the video above to find out what the ladies thought of their gorgeous Grease: Live clothes, and click through the gallery below for more photos and details about each specific look.

Sandy (Julianne Hough)

Hough says her favorite looks were Sandy's cheerleading outfit and, of course, Sandy's sexpot transformation from the end of the film. Long tells us that Hough had a part in creating the cheerleader look. "I think she likes it because it's very alive, and she was part of the creation. It is so sweet and oddly very sexy, and I say oddly because it's not form-fitting. She picked the sweater," he dishes. "She is a trained [dancer] so she really knew what she needed."

The tight black look that she wears at the end is a total recreation of the look Albert Wolsky designed for the Grease movie. "The final look is 100 percent his. My version of his, but that's his. Most of the rest of it we've done variations on a theme, but the final look I call my homage to Albert Wolsky…I copied it exactly. I told him I was doing it!"

Rizzo (Vanessa Hudgens)

"As soon as I had my first fitting for the first photo shoot that we did, I put on my pencil skirt and threw on my pixie wig and everything changed," Hudgens tells us. Long says Rizzo's look was mostly black—or black and purple, or black and red. Rizzo is a young lady but she knows a thing or two, so that means she has a "very sophisticated look. Her collar is always up. She rocks the pencil skirt."

Marty (Keke Palmer)

Marty's song from the Grease Broadway show, "Freddy My Love," which was cut in the film, is back in this production of the musical. Long used some of the magical techniques he perfected in Broadway's Cinderella (which starred both Palmer and Carly Rae Jepsen at different times) for that scene.

"We have a magical moment. She walks through the wall and she's in another world singing to the USO," he says. "I knew that Keke could pull off this transformation, as in Cinderella, which she does all by herself. She changes from one look, walks through the wall and is miraculously in another look, and then she walks back and is back again in the original look." Palmer calls it her "Cinderella moment." Check out an exclusive video featuring the innovative costume change above!

Frenchy (Carly Rae Jepsen)

Long says he and Jepsen decided that "her character was the most fashion-forward in the '50s. She's the only one wearing an absolutely vintage, 100 percent real bullet bra and she loves it." Jepsen tells us that Long "really helps you move your character along. Until I had really put on the Frenchy wigs and bras and pencil skirts and shoes it was hard to know exactly how to walk and how to be this very iconic character."


Jan (Kether Donohue)

"We'll put an article of clothing on, just like a jacket from the '50s, and it automatically makes you feel different," Donohue says. Long says his idea for Jan was that "you can tell that her mother won't let her go out of the house unless she's wearing a blouse, a sweater and a pleated skirt, but Jan decides how to wear them."

Grease: Live airs Sunday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. on Fox.

For more insight into the retro fashion you'll be seeing the stars of Grease: Live rock, check out our gallery below...