Today a Twitter friend of mine linked me an interesting article by Megan Angelo about the rise of anti-fashion tv shows like Orange is the New Black, in opposition to the super-fashion shows like Gossip Girl and Sex and the City, which stirred every fashionista’s wet dreams some years ago. The setting and the plot of the show created by Jenji Kohan don’t leave much space to variety and fantasy, yet the costume designer Jennifer Rogien has recently explained how she succeeded in customizing every inmate uniform so as to let their personalities shine through. Noticing subtle details in the orange or khaki uniforms is certainly fascinating, but my fashion-lover heart doesn’t beat for those. Gorgeous fashion can’t turn a mediocre tv show or film into something good, but if the show is extremely good (as in the case of Orange is the New Black), some designer fashion hints can definitely spice things up. These were totally missing in the first season, but in the second one we were given three fantastic and totally unexpected moments .
The first two designer pieces appear in the 4th episode, A Whole Other Hole. One of the most intriguing sub-plots of the show are the flashbacks with which we learn the reason why a character is in jail. In this episode the flashback is about Lorna Morello (Yael Stone), the romantic inmate who always wears a bright red lipstick. She ran a mail scam ordering items online and receiving them, but calling the companies claiming they never arrived. She’s a compulsive shopper who can’t resist the charm of designer clothes and accessories.
We see her in action when she calls an online shop and complains she’s never received a pair of patchwork platform Prada sandals. “I had this big party to go to,” she explains to an unaware phone operator, “and I had to wear last season’s Miu Mius”, a big no-no for a true fashionista. Lorna is an habitual liar, of course, because she runs her “business” through lying. The point is that she doesn’t only lie to others, but to herself, too. She’s built a fake romantic dream with the poor Christopher, a boy she met at the post office, as protagonist.
She pretends she’s having a love story with him. She tells her sister Franny that he’s taking her on a week-end on the Jersey Shore. “Christopher likes me to look sophisticated. He says I’m like Audrey Hepburn”, she explains, but the truth is that she’s got a tacky taste. Designer (logo) clothes and accessories are status symbols for her: they help her to believe her own fantasies, they are tools to pretend she’s not sad and lonely, desperately in need for love. The compulsion to shop is obviously an attempt to fill the emotional hole she has in her life.
While packing, she wears a D&G bustier denim dress with knit trims, paired to a D&G leather belt with big gold buckle and a Versace chain necklace with a black enamel Medusa pendant. Not a classy outfit, but she doesn’t care. The dress is from the fall 2010 collection and it was spotted on the singer Lauren Pritchard in 2010.
The third and last designer piece appears in the 8th episode, Appropriately Sized Pots. The scene isn’t from a flashback but it happens in prison: the protagonists are Natalie Figueroa (Alysia Reiner), the executive assistant to the warden at Litchfield Penitentiary, and Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow), the assistant to the warden.
Figueroa is angry because a chewing gum is stuck on the sole of her Louboutins. It’s not only a question of designer shoes ruined by gum, but the fact that gum is not allowed in there. Learning she is wearing Louboutin Pigalle patent pumps wasn’t a surprise: Pigalles are the perfect shoe choice for an ambitious woman like her. There’s a lot going on in her life (she would like to have a baby but she can’t get pregnant; her husband is running for political office and cheating on her with his male assistant), but she rarely lets the guard down; on the contrary, she exploits her position to her own ends. She’s a villain in the show’s microcosm, as shown by her style: she always wears power suits, has a passion for over-accessorizing and loves a pair of killer heels, status symbols which tell inmates and colleagues she’s powerful and wealthy. For this reason, these sky-high heels and Lorna’s designer garments and shoes have a completely different function: the former tell the truth and strongly assert a certain role in society, while the latter cover up a pile of lies, which will eventually lead the character to jail.
 If you like spotting beauty products in tv shows, you can see all my Orange is the New Black findings here (some interesting perfume quotes, too).