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How The Craft: Legacy's costume designer re-envisioned the film's iconic costumes

By Gabrielle Moss
The Craft: Legacy

When The Craft hit theaters in May 1996, it didn't just become a surprise box office hit; it changed the way an entire generation thought about witchcraft, female friendships, and tapping into your inner power. But for me, a 13-year-old whose mother still picked out her clothes each morning, it changed something else: the way I thought about fashion. Costume designer Deborah Everton was instructed by director Andrew Fleming to make coven members Nancy, Sarah, Rochelle, and Bonnie "look like they were in The Cure," but the style she created was something more. Up until that moment, I had thought fashion was just about fitting in, but watching Fairuza Balk strut around in pleather and velvet, I understood that fashion could also be about power and rebellion. It could be about expressing alienation, sexuality, and supernatural levels of self-confidence through the exact right black leather studded choker. I pledged then and there to find maroon lipstick in my small Connecticut hometown or die trying.

Twenty-four years later, we're still talking about The Craft coven's fishnet shirts, black eyeliner, and rosary necklaces — maybe even more than we did during the film's original release. High-end fashion publications like British Vogue pay tribute to the film's style on the regular, YouTube is chock full of Nancy Downs makeup tutorials, and a 2019 collaboration with Dolls Kill sold out before you could buy even one plaid kilt (OK, fine, before I could buy even one plaid kilt).

The ongoing popularity of The Craft's style presented an obvious conundrum for Avery Plewes, costume designer for The Craft: Legacy, which follows a new coven of high school outcasts who discover power (and trouble) through witchcraft. "A lot of cool young kids are dressing like The Craft now," says Plewes. "So how do you dress a coven who are supposed to be outcasts, when everyone is kind of dressing like the original movie?"

Plewes, who's a millennial, grew up watching The Craft; she even went through her own Nancy-inspired style phase in high school. So she was thrilled — and extremely nervous — when she got the call to work on the film. "It's such a meaningful movie to so many people," says Plewes, who also designed 2019's Ready or Not. And in designing a totally new look for the sequel, "I didn't want to feel like I was betraying those people."

In developing the new film's look, Plewes considered how much societal attitudes towards witchcraft have changed in the past two-and-a-half decades: "The cult and esoteric arts are now actually very normalized compared to the 1990s...and less scary to most of society." In an era when there are 1.5 million practicing Wiccans across the U.S. (compared to 8,000 in 1990), there's no singular "witch look." A teen witch today wouldn't necessarily be part of a particular subculture — she could be a soccer star, a student council president, a political activist, or just someone who loves to hang out while wearing a stretched-out pair of old sweatpants. Plewes' looks pay tribute to this; though there are nods to the original (keep an eye out for chokers and cross earrings), each character has a more personal style, rather than operating as part of a larger, overarching look. "I wanted each girl to feel like a very, very much her own person," says Plewes. "I wanted them to feel like four very individual people who have come together with a common interest, [rather than] all looking very similar."

Another difference worth noting: while the color scheme in the 1996 original ran the gamut from black to gray and back again, The Craft: Legacy features its coven in patterns and vibrant colors. This isn't just because current teen fashion trends favor a bolder palette; Plewes and one of the film's witchcraft consultants discussed the fact that "a lot of practicing witches right now don't wear black."

Each of the new four coven members has a dedicated element and crystal, which Plewes designed around. Cailee Spaeny's Lily "is water, so you'll see a lot of tie-dye and pearls on her throughout the movie," while Zoey Luna's Lourdes is earth, "so you see her mostly in green and then plaid." Lovie Simone's Tabby is fire, "so she wears a lot of orange camo, color blocking in the colors of fire." Tabby is also a gamer, so her costumes have utilitarian elements to pay tribute to her favorite female characters. And Gideon Adlon's Frankie has a "wardrobe [that] is actually kind of a nod to original teen movies, with fuzzy sweaters and chunky penny loafers. But her closet is actually very chaotic because her element is air."

Knowing that viewers love to crib looks from The Craft — for cosplay or just regular life — Plewes tried to make sure every look was accessible. "I wanted all [the coven] to wear things that could easily be made or purchased at affordable stores for young people." So the looks are designed to be easy to acquire or DIY — like the safety-pin-and-chain flapper-style dress that Zoey Luna's Lourdes wears in one scene. "I mean, the first intention was to make it look fabulous," says Plewes. "But it's designed in a way that it could actually be easily made by people."

Plewes believes the costumes from the original film have endured because "there weren't very many teen movies until The Craft where the female leads were really, really empowered, and also looked empowered in their costumes. And I think the costumes were aspirational to young people, in terms of looking strong and empowered — [rather than in] a lot of other teen movies, where the girls would look very overtly feminine and kind of passive." Though you won't find dyed black pigtails or pointy witch boots in the new film, Plewes hopes that viewers connect these new looks to the original because of their spirit. "I think, in a lot of ways, the biggest act of rebellion for a young woman or young person is just wearing exactly what you want and not really caring. And I feel like all of the girls have that element to them."