The Flight Attendant's Season 2 Wardrobe Pivot Makes So Much Sense
The Flight Attendant — HBO Max's adrenaline-fueled thriller, starring Kaley Cuoco in her Emmy-nominated role as self-destructive flight attendant Cassie — is showing no sign of the dreaded sophomore slump. In Season 2, Cassie has turned over a new leaf in Los Angeles, seeking sun, self-care, and a break from her messy life in New York, international spy caper included. But Cassie being Cassie, she's now moonlighting as a CIA informant. And Cassie being Cassie, she's not very good at it. At least Kaley Cuoco's Flight Attendant outfits make up for her character's constant calamity — and that's thanks to costume designer Mari-An Ceo.
"She's a bad spy!" says Ceo, who's taken the reins from Catherine Marie Thomas, who solidified The Flight Attendant as a fashion force in its first season. (We all recall the show-stopping coats Cassie wore to slosh her way across NYC.) Ceo was a professional windsurfer (she refers to this as her "misspent youth") and swimwear designer before finding herself in costume design. You've seen her work on Them, House of Lies, Constantine, and more, and now she's bringing an edge to "fun-loving" Cassie's new life in L.A. "She's got it together, she's happy, and her world is falling into place… until we see that it doesn't," Ceo says.
Ceo sat down with InStyle to talk about how The Flight Attendant's Season 2 location change influenced Cassie's outfits — you aren't imagining it, she does favor shades of pink while in L.A. — and what else we can expect from the rest of the season.
You took over costuming for The Flight Attendant in season two from Catherine Marie Thomas. Tell us about your background and how you came to the show.
[Catherine Marie Thomas] did an amazing job! When they moved the show to L.A. they wanted a Los Angeles designer… I was actually on vacation in Greece with my daughter [when I got the call] to do a Zoom interview and that was it. Luckily, I got the job.
How did you incorporate L.A. style into Cassie's wardrobe for Season 2, while keeping true to Cassie's iconic and viral coats from Season 1?
We had a discussion about how to make this [season] look different [from season one]. We wanted to do some more casual clothing and bring in more color. One of the things that kicked off our first episode — even though Cassie's supposed to be undercover — we were like, let's just bring in color. There were a lot of muted tones last year so when we went to Berlin, and the iconic Berlin Wall, we really wanted Cassie to stand out. She's a bad spy! So we chose this fuschia-colored coat.
It all started with that coat! It was a very fun, natural thing that happened: We fit [Kaley Cuoco] in these pinks that looked kind of innocent and sweet — Cassie is looking through rose-colored glasses. She's in this pink cloud through this whole episode as we're reintroducing Cassie and her new journey with sobriety. She's got it together, she's happy and her world is falling into place… until we see that it doesn't. So I think it was a really great way to start the season.
Cassie's a spy now, so we wanted to do an homage to the trenchcoat, carrying on from last season, which we had a lot of fun with. [In L.A.] we'd maybe use lighter coats, or when she was in Iceland it was a bit puffy coat. But we still kept that; it's Cassie's armor.
In a recent Hollywood Reporter interview, showrunners Steve Yockey and Natalie Chaidez explain that in S1, they brought Cassie to exotic, warm locations to juxtapose them against the cold, gray backdrop of New York, and in the second season they flipped it by going to grayer locations to juxtapose against L.A. and Cassie's glitzy mind palace of the hotel lobby. How did this impact Cassie's wardrobe?
Our theory in changing the location from New York to L.A. was to reverse those roles. L.A. for Cassie is bubblegum pink and full of color. It's light and new and hopeful, which changes rather quickly after that first episode.
With Berlin, we knew from the location [scouting] that we were shooting at the tower that had a lot of graffiti and color to it, and the Berlin Wall, which had so much great artwork, but that the rest of the city was going to be a little bit gray. We dressed the background [actors] down so that when Cassie was chasing Will [Kayvon Esmaili] she was the brightest point. And then she wore that amazing Prada sweater [underneath], which I was obsessed with because it looked so much like the graffiti on the Berlin Wall.
What about when she's in Iceland?
Iceland was such a surprise: [Given my background] I was like, why aren't we going to some [tropical islands] and doing a bikini?! We were concerned about the cold and when we landed there, the natural beauty of that country blew everybody away. The locations were like nothing I've ever seen before and I've traveled quite a bit. It was such a great choice and so different from last season. We really liked the idea of the white [coat] for Cassie; it was an accent. It was a strange choice for Cassie a little bit but it kept her very warm, and we could spot her [in the frame]. We kept cinching that fanny pack tight around [Kaley's] waist to give her a waist!
That mustard Ganni sweater Cassie wears under the white coat in Iceland. Discuss.
We loved that sweater! Kaley loved it! When Cassie is wearing the thin white trench coat coming off the plane when Miranda [Michelle Gomez] meets them, she feels like she's in charge. It's pristine and flowy and it was our hero color but we needed a pop of color in that episode. The mustard is sort of like, she's done something wrong and she needs to fix it and [get] the yellow off the white.
We had like 10 of those sweaters! That was the trick in COVID: getting all the multiples we needed. The stores that used to have stock just didn't. So once we chose [a piece] we had like 10 people on the phone trying to get them from all over the country, which is always a big challenge.
How important is it to highlight emerging brands like that?
Every designer tries to do that because you don't want something that's going to be on every show. We're always trying to find unique designers. It's a little tricky for the multiples, but as soon as we called a company [to feature an item on the show] they would try to find whatever we needed from different distributors which is really helpful. Like the pink coat isn't super well-known; it's from Rebecca Vallance. We loved that coat and it was really great because [Rebecca Vallance] doesn't have a shop in town and nobody carried it in L.A. at the time; I'd just seen it online and loved the color. It literally came in at the last minute right before the fitting so it was amazing that that became The Coat. We did a lot of Max Mara coats as well because they're great.
You've got a lot of action movies and TV shows on your resume, and some horror! How did you incorporate that into The Flight Attendant, which is super glossy but still really steeped in that action and spy world?
I love to do period shows, I love Old Hollywood and I'm obsessed with Hitchcock. [The Flight Attendant showrunners] said "Hitchcock" in the interview and I was sold! They said it was a spy show, and I was like, I'm in!
The last show I did was a show called Them for Amazon Prime and it was horror, but it was about the first African American family that came to a small Los Angeles town in 1953. Everything was super controlled — we printed fabrics. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun. With The Flight Attendant, I wanted to take the energy from Them and [modernize it]. We were shooting The Flight Attendant like a spy thriller. Even though it's supposed to be a modern show there's the classic noir feel to it like Old Hollywood, and that inspired me and was a challenge in a different way.
Can you give us any sneak peeks for any looks coming up in the rest of the season?
I don't know if I can tell you, but we had a lot of fun with Cassie and Annie [Zosia Mamet] for the final episode. Kaley and Zosia are best friends in real life and are a cute little duo to design for. That's probably my favorite episode for just the little pop at the end of it.
Season two of The Flight Attendant airs Thursdays on HBO Max.