This story first appeared in the October 2015 issue of InStyle.
Truly outrageous! A cartoon based on a line of Hasbro dolls, Jem and the Holograms ruled the ’80s. This month, it's reborn as a movie starring Nashville’s Aubrey Peeples as the musical sensation. While you can expect to see plenty of nods to the original series in the new flick, out October 23, you'll be treated to fresh tunes and an updated plot that suits a modern-day teen pop star—a task that Peeples was more than ready to take on.
"I had to focus on bringing the modern Jem to life,” she tells InStyle. Still, Peeples made sure that her Jem stayed true to the original. “I loved all the themes in the cartoon," she said. "These women were rock stars, fighting crime. They were so badass!”
When it comes to Peeples' take on Jem, she's likely to bring two of today's biggest pop icons to mind. "I’d say she has the heart and youthfulness of Taylor Swift—if Taylor dressed like Lady Gaga," says Peeples. Scroll down to find out how the film differs from the cartoon, from the beauty looks and outfits to the music and the band itself.
Then: Jerrica Benton ran a record store and foster home. With the help of Synergy, a holographic synthesizer computer, a pair of special earrings, and the voice of Britta Phillips, she changed into pop superstar Jem.
Now: Modern-day Jerrica reaches stardom the 21st-century way: via YouTube. The stylists at the film’s record label Starlight Enterprises give her a makeover. “Jem isn’t who she really is, but who she ends up becoming,” says costume designer Soyon An. “She becomes an iconic diva, like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry.” Jem fans can even score a mini-version of their favorite fictional pop star, thanks to Shopbop's doll in her likeness. ($119, available in the coming weeks on shopbop.com).
Then: A pink wrap dress and sharp shoulder pads made up Jem’s signature ensemble. Who can forget the bodacious blazer-dress that she rocked in the opening credits? But ultimately, it was those futuristic star earrings that had every ’80s kid chirping, “It’s show time, Synergy!”
Now: While pink remains a theme for Jem’s onstage persona, costume designer Soyon An toughened up her look with black leather, layers of chains, and one-of-a-kind couture pieces. “She’s a mix of ’80s rock and roll andhigh fashion-glam,” says An, who was inspired by Valentino, Jean Paul Gaultier and Moschino runway looks. To put a modern twist on Jem’s iconic pink outfit, she airbrushed a leather jacket with seven coats of paint. The result? A perfect shade of pink that's “not too bubble gum, and not to fuchsia,” she says. For an added touch, An applied thousands of glittering Swarovski crystals by hand. “It’s glamorous, but still rock and roll and edgy.”To get the look, layer on Vita Fede’s Jem-inspired bangles ($325 each, available in the coming weeks on shopbop.com).
Then: Jerrica wanted to be anonymous, so she used Synergy to disguise herself with puffy pink hair and fuchsia makeup.
Now: Makeup artist Mary Klimek took a cue from Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie for Jem’s look, relying on Stila’s Magnificent Metals metallic eye shadows and PAX body paint. “We used so much glitter on set, I still have sparkle running through my veins,” she joked. To recreate Jem's look at home, try Sephora’s new Jem And The Holograms-inspired beauty set. “It has all kinds of goodies in it, including a palette of boldly pigmented shadows,” Klimek says. (Sephora + Jem and the Holograms Truly Outrageous Eyeshadow Palette, $39; available in the coming weeks on sephora.com)
Then: Each episode featured three fully produced songs and music videos written by Barry Harman. It was the era of the working girl, and he injected comments on female empowerment into some songs. Titles included “She’s Got the Power” and “We Can Change It.”
Now: While none of the tunes from the original series made it onto the big screen, Justin Bieber scout Scooter Braun was produced the film’s soundtrack, which is all original and sung by Peeples. ““The songs represent the upbeat themes of the movie,” says Peeples. "They're all upbeat and poppy, like something you'd hear on the radio today.”
Then: Jem's band-mate besties included her sister Kimber on the keyboard and their foster sisters Aja and Shana, who played the guitar and drums, respectively.
Now: Her three sisters return as her bandmates. “Their bond is a theme throughout,” says Peeples. “Jem doesn’t want fame but steps into the spotlight to support her family.” When bringing the girl band to life on the big screen, An made sure to keep their signature styles in check. “I tried to incorporate each girl’s signature color and silhouettes," she says.
Watch the trailer for Jem and the Holograms below, and see the movie in theaters on October 23.