Part of the appeal of watching reality shows like ‘The Big D’, ‘Love Island USA’ and ‘Temptation Island’ is the ability to watch gorgeous singles creating drama in exotic tropical locations like Costa Rica, Fiji and Maui. Given that the contestants are essentially sequestered for weeks or months at a time, but seem to have an endless supply of outfits, one question arises: Where did all of these outfits come from? Do singles bring their own wardrobe? It is provided? Do they have to coordinate with each other and with the hosts, as well as make sure they don’t clash with the decoration of the set?
The answer is all of the above, with slight variations from show to show. On “Temptation Island” in the United States, showrunner Trifari White works with the cast to select clothes from their wardrobes that reflect who they are but also work for the style of the series. “We always want them to feel comfortable and for their personal style to shine through,” White told IndieWire, “but I’m very involved in making sure the clothing is flattering for television and the colors work well.” White provides the cast with a style guide for what they should pack that includes guidance for various stages of the show like arrivals, singles reveals and bonfires. “I tell them to bring lots of bright colors that pop on camera, island clothing that they’ll feel breezy and comfortable in, stay away from white and skintight styles because the camera doesn’t love that,” he said.
The idea is always to convey a sense of the personal styles of the participants, something that also guides the choices on Peacock’s “Love Island USA”. “We have all the Islanders bring their own clothes because so much of the show is about personality and we want to see that reflected in what they wear,” executive producer Andy Cadman tells IndieWire. Fellow Cadman executive producer Ben Thursby-Palmer added, “The way you dress is such a big part of who you are, and we want to celebrate that, so we’re pretty open about it. It’s like, what would you actually take on vacation with you if you went on vacation? And then bring twice as much.
The guidance Cadman and Thursby-Palmer give their cast also takes into consideration standards and practices since they’re often in beachwear. “We make sure it’s not too revealing,” Cadman said, noting that if the women on the show share or swap clothes, problems arise. “Suddenly, we look at the screen, and a girl who has a different body shape is wearing another girl’s bikini, and we’re like, ‘Oh, that’s going to be a problem because nothing covers you.'”
While the producers of “Love Island USA” rely heavily on their cast’s clothing, they also provide additional wardrobe that they seek to blend with the participants’ pre-existing wardrobes. “Not everyone who’s 22 has the money to buy holiday clothes for six weeks on TV,” Thursby-Palmer said. “So a lot of it is just integrating what they can actually afford to carry.”
In USA’s “The Big D,” fashion designer Meesh Daranyi takes a more active role in helping the cast – made up of divorced couples and singles they’re dating – express themselves by wearing things that will be aesthetically pleasing on camera. “Some of the contestants are very specific about what they like to wear,” Daranyi told IndieWire. “They seem to have a strong sense of their own style and want that to be how they are identified on the show. Sometimes that works, and then sometimes what works in their real life doesn’t work on television.
Daranyi and an assistant go through the suitcases and cast ensembles together which they then integrate, both to make sure they aren’t repeating the outfits and to fill in the gaps in the participants’ outfits. “Some of the guys just didn’t have enough cute things to wear,” Daranyi said, noting that when the contestants wear clothes that don’t fit with the producers’ conception of the series, it becomes a delicate process to make sure they feel heard but understand. also the requirements of the show. “Being a stylist definitely takes proper personal skills and a little bit of personality to get them on your side,” she said. “Sometimes there’s pushback and then it’s just about gaining their trust that something they don’t normally wear looks good on them. Sometimes we go to their Instagram and see what they like, then find a combination of what they’re typically attracted to and what we like. And most of the time they are so excited to get new clothes and feel great when they try them on.
The nightly “elimination” ceremonies required Daranyi to coordinate the cast’s outfits with those of hosts JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers, which proved to be a lengthy process. “I would have my assistant take pictures of the elimination night cocktail dresses for each person,” Daranyi said. “Then we would decide each night what outfit they would wear, and we would put all the couples together in a spreadsheet and match it to what the hosts were wearing so it was all consistent.” Daranyi also tried to be aware of the colors in the places. “Ideally, you look at the inside of the house, the outside of the house, so you know the colors you’re dealing with,” she said. “If there’s a back wall filled with greenery, we’re not going to put the guest in a green shirt.”
In “Love Island USA,” the producers find that the contestants often coordinate a degree of color themselves. “The girls are getting ready for a night out, and they’re like, ‘Well, if you wear orange, I’ll wear white and then you can wear blue,'” said Cadman. “Or it’s like, ‘No, we’re all wearing pink tonight.'” Cadman and Thursby-Palmer point out that their only real role in terms of clothes is to make sure contestants feel good about what they’re wearing and express themselves. “People say to me, ‘I look at it to see what the girls are going to wear every night,'” Thursby-Palmer said, “and it’s such a weird thing to me because it’s not my wheelhouse at all.” “I know absolutely nothing about fashion, like zero,” said Cadman. “We just want the Islanders to be authentically themselves.”