On Monday night, Eva Longoria returns to TV with her new comedy, Telenovela, and the former Desperate Housewife will be rocking not one, but two killer wardrobes onscreen. In addition to executive producing the series—which premieres with a special one-hour preview tonight at 10 p.m. ET on NBC—Longoria takes on the role of Ana Sofia Calderon, a Miami-based and linguistically-challenged Spanish soap opera star who plays the leading lady in a hit telenovela. Ana is as different as can be from her dramatic soap character, Pasión—especially when it comes to her style, according to the show’s costume designer, Janie Bryant.
“Visually, they’re in two different worlds,” Bryant recently told InStyle. “There are two shows going on simultaneously for costume design: their clothing in real life and then what their characters look like in their telenovela life.” The most noticeable difference? Their wardrobe palettes. “The colors in the telenovela are very different—especially with Pasión,” said Bryant. “Her gowns are very bright, whereas Ana’s color palette is all about whites, pastels, and nudes. It’s very contrasted from what she wears in the telenovela.”
The styles of clothing are different, too. “Pasión is a lawyer, but she’s always in some kind of formal gown,” said Bryant. “She’s dramatic and over-the-top, and she basically comes from trial wearing a chiffon jewel-toned gown that’s blowing in the wind with huge earrings, cocktail rings, and bracelets.” Her look is a far cry from Ana’s everyday attire. “Ana is still glamorous, but she’s very modern,” said Bryant. “Her look is chic and simple—it’s still Miami and she shows skin, but she’s not too party-looking. It’s sexy and sensual, but even though her costumes are figure flattering and body conscious, her hem lengths are longer to give her a more high-fashion feel.”
So while Ana’s closet has a more casual vibe, the heart of the show’s fun fashion lies within Pasión’s. “She’s so glitzy and glamorous,” said Bryant. “It’s totally out of the realm of reality, and that is why the telenovela is all about fantasy.” Her ensembles might not seem to have any limits in terms of sparkle, but there was one point at which Longoria drew the line. “One day, Eva and I were looking at accessories, and I was like, ‘Eva, let’s just add one more ring,’” said Bryant. “Eva said, ‘I think one more ring is going to put it over the top.’ I was like, 'That’s impossible—it can never be over the top. The more glitz and sparkle, the better!'” Bryant explained, “We laughed about that moment so many times because that one cocktail ring was what put it over the top.”
Longoria was hands-on throughout the entire process. “We had a great time collaborating, and she definitely loves fashion and glamour,” said Bryant. “Eva and I joked that we could both wear gowns every day and be totally fine with it.” Her favorite piece on set? “There’s a white fringe top that she wears in the first episode, which she loved so much,” said Bryant. “And she also loved a pink gown with feathers that I designed for her, which you’ll see in the second episode.”
Bryant designed many of the gowns that Longoria wears for the telenovela scenes, as well as all the shoes she wears as Pasión. “Eva wanted heels as high as the sky, and she wore gorgeous six-inch platforms,” said Bryant, whose designs were manufactured by Shoes of Prey. And Longoria contributed heels from her personal shoe collection to her on-set wardrobe. “Eva brought in a few pairs of her own shoes that she wears on the show: Her Louboutins and Brian Atwoods,” said Bryant.
As they collaborated, there was one thing that Bryant and Longoria kept in mind. “The whole thing about telenovelas and this whole show in general is that it’s a comedy,” said Bryant. “It’s a great show to have a lot of fun in the costume design.”
Telenovela premieres with a special one-hour preview tonight on NBC at 10 p.m. ET, and will air on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET starting Jan. 4.