How the stylish, fairytale NYC of ‘Katy Keene’ came to life
Watch out, Midge Maisel and Blair Waldorf — NYC’s got a new TV fashion queen.
“Katy Keene,” whose eponymous star is played by Lucy Hale from “Pretty Little Liars,” is the CW’s new spinoff of its twisted teen hit, “Riverdale.” The splashy drama, which premiered Thursday, is inspired by a retro “Archie” comic-book series of the same name, and follows a group of twentysomething creatives in New York City.
“The New York of ‘Katy Keene’ is the New York of the imagination,” Michael Grassi, who co-created the show with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, tells The Post. “It sort of references the New York that we saw in our favorite movies and TV shows growing up — like ‘A Chorus Line’ or ‘Working Girl’ or ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’”
And costume designer Jenn Rogien says that for Katy — an aspiring fashion designer trying to work her way up at an upscale department store — she looked “heavily” to the ’50s and ’60s comic book looks for inspiration.
“Those were most helpful in terms of silhouette and style in feeling very chic and fashionable even though they are clothing illustrations from the ’50s,” Rogien, who previously worked on Netflix’s “Russian Doll,” tells The Post. “There’s a lot of pink and red and heart motifs in the original Katy drawings. We used that as a jumping off point. It also makes her fun to watch.”
Katy, of course, has a squad of stylish pals. Her roommate Jorge, (Jonny Beauchamp) is a Broadway-bound drag queen who goes by Ginger Lopez, Pepper Smith (Julia Chan) is an art-world influencer and Jill of all trades. And then there’s singer Josie (Ashleigh Murray), who “Riverdale” viewers will recognize. The show’s timeline is five years ahead of the current “Riverdale,” so Josie and her pals are in their early 20s.
The comics served as a cheeky inspiration for the modern-day fashion fairytale, says Grassi.
“Pepper Smith, for example, her iconic thing in the comics is she always wears glasses, so our Pepper wears glasses as well,” he says.
The comic version of Ginger also sports a blonde streak in her brown bob, so, Grassi says, “When Jorge does drag as Ginger, he will also have that iconic strip in his hair as well.”
The show has plenty of easter-eggs for modern New Yorkers, too.
When Jorge performs in drag, he frequents a piano bar called “Molly’s Crisis,” a play on the real-life West Village piano bar Marie’s Crisis.
“It’s something we do on ‘Riverdale’ as well, where we take iconic things and give them a ‘Riverdale’ spin,” says Grassi. “We really look to the city to provide us with story. Like we do a polar vortex episode of what it’s like to be locked in a small New York apartment with all of your roommates when it’s freezing out and you can’t go outside.”
So, since the show doesn’t shy away from depicting a Manhattan winter, finding chic coats for the characters was key for Rogien.
“We definitely had coat shopping on the list at all times — very special coats that were all pink and red. We were constantly on the lookout for something that would work since we were shooting outside in December, January, February in New York.”
Rogien says they scoured Century 21, The RealReal and Shopbop for pieces.
“Finding special coats — that work for life and that are great and interesting to wear — is a challenge,” she says. “In New York, we live in coats for a big chunk of the year. And so to up that one step further for character and make it something interesting for the audience to watch as well was a whole dimension to it.”
Rogien teases that her favorite look is dress Katy wears at the end of the season, but you’ll have to tune in to see it.
“I’m pretty excited about her season finale dress, but I don’t want to give anything away. Keep a look out for it.”
“Katy Keene” airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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