Awesome Blossom! We Chat '90s Fashion With Blossom's Costume Designer

Long before Blair Waldorf and her Gossip Girl cohorts stylized the small screen, '90s teen comedy drama Blossom paved the way for budding fashionistas fresh out of junior school. The show was an instant hit with its adolescent audience thanks in part to the ensemble’s eclectic approach to clothes. In particular, title character Blossom and her bestie Six spawned an army of lookalikes in school hallways and inspired a ‘fun and funky’ clothing line that copied styles from the show. A diverse collage of colors, patterns and textures, the Blossom aesthetic has remained wildly popular thanks to a resurgence of all things '90s including fun florals, double denim, and quirky accessories that Blossom mixed with her trademark floppy hats. The lady responsible for creating those memorable looks is costume designer Sherry Thompson, who is “amazed and proud that people still remember” her work on the show. Remember, reminisce, and rewind with us, as we pay tribute to those iconic outfits and one of our very first girl-heroes: Blossom.
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When you began working on Blossom, did you have any idea how influential the costumes would become?
"No idea whatsoever! It was my first job as a costume designer and I had no prior experience of the reach of TV and how quickly teens flock after things. At the time, the look for younger girls was so boring. I first became aware of it when I ran into a Mom in a department store who was trying to find her daughter a ‘Blossom’ outfit for her birthday. She wanted to know what a ‘Blossom outfit’ was! I think at that point the show had only aired two or three times. Right after that, during the second season, we became aware that girls across the country had spontaneously formed their own ‘Blossom Fashion Fan Clubs’! Girls who lived in or were visiting L.A. would come to watch the taping of the shows and would sit in a large group all wearing their own versions of a Blossom outfit. Others would call or fax each other after the show aired to co-ordinate Blossom-inspired outfits for school the following day."

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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What were your reference points for the show?
“'We want girls to tune in to see what Blossom and Six are wearing'... That was the only direction I got from Don Reo, the creator and executive producer of the show. It was unusual not to be told by producers to create a ‘timeless look’ out of concern that a show would look dated in future re-runs. I’ve never felt that made sense anyway because part of the fun of watching the old shows is the way they look…besides, I don’t think it’s really possible to make contemporary TV look timeless! We love to watch the old shows because they’re dated, right? My feeling was that we should do things that really expressed the characters’ personalities and also show that it wasn’t necessary to spend lots of money. The important thing is to be true to yourself, and I think that the writing on the show and casting of Mayim as Blossom helped send this message."

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Were you influenced by catwalk trends?
"I would have to say no, this was pre-internet and I was creating for young teen characters as far as the girls went. Sassy Magazine was out by then and I do remember that Mayim was a fan. I had to keep in mind she was playing a fourteen year old!"

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Where did you source the majority of Blossom and Six’s outfits?
"For Blossom, we shopped mostly at smaller boutiques and vintage shops in Los Angeles. We went to the major department stores, too, mostly for basics and to check the menswear departments! I was focusing on sourcing from atypical places, like thrift shops (before they became ubiquitous), menswear, and boyswear (also not popular at the time). I worked on giving Blossom a look that girls could copy without using anything more than their imaginations and a willingness to experiment. I used a lot of layering, texture, and a high/low mix…tights and socks, boxers as shorts, and other “boyfriend” styles that have since become so mainstream. The look was very eclectic and no outfit really came from a single source. The emphasis was on proportion and how the various pieces were put together. Also, her colors were generally more muted and unconventional. Six was dressed more on-trend for teens of the day. She had some things right off the rack from the shops. I don’t think I ever used vintage for her. Her color palette was brighter and more ‘matchy’."

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Did Mayim have any input?
"All wardrobe fittings are in collaboration with the actor. Mayim was a joy to work with, and has her own very unique sense of style. She was game to try on anything and enjoyed wearing things she wouldn’t wear in her own life. It was always fun to hear her special giggle when she really liked something!"

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Who was your favorite character to dress?
"Such an impossible question to answer! I loved all of them."

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Did you get a kick out of seeing regular girls in Blossom-inspired looks when the show was on?
"It was fun to see the girls at the taping of the shows all decked out in Blossom looks. In fact, one of the most fun episodes was called ‘Rockumentary’ and involved Blossom falling asleep watching In Bed with Madonna and dreaming that she was a famous singer. It was shot in black and white and parodied Madonna’s "Truth or Dare" with Blossom as the star. In the sequence with the screaming fans, we made up concert T-shirts for the fashion fan club I mentioned earlier and used the girls in those scenes!"

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Did you have fun with the opening credits?!
"Yes, it was fun as I got to design really specific things for Blossom to wear as she danced. She worked closely with a choreographer to work out the steps, and I watched and then worked with Mayim on what she should wear. She had come up with some great basic ideas and I embellished from there. Everything was custom-made for the opening credits unlike the main wardrobe, which was a combo of purchased and re-worked stuff. The tie skirt in the credits is the thing most people seem to remember (besides the hats!), and I just got the idea randomly while I was buying something else. The ties were all laid out together and the colours were so lovely!"

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Do you still keep in touch with any of the cast?
"I am still in touch with Mayim. She is now as series regular on The Big Bang Theory as well as having earned her PhD in Neuroscience and being a wife and mother to two adorable boys. Jenna moved to Nashville to pursue her singing so I haven’t seen her in a couple of years. I do see Ted (he played Nick, Blossom’s Dad) occasionally as he now works frequently as a director."

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Are you surprised by the recent '90s revival?
"Fashion seems to come and go in cycles…I have noticed that “what goes around comes around” and the florals that I used in Blossom (mostly because of the title character’s name!) have become popular again. I also worked a lot of ethnic as well as vintage ladylike things into her wardrobe and when I see the catalogues for Free People or Anthropologie I’m reminded of Blossom. I also think young women who followed the show and loved the clothes might now have followed their interest in fashion into a career and are reviving some of the things they loved back then. Some of it subconsciously I think! Susie Lau is a good example…I think many of her choices would have fit in well with the Blossom aesthetic! The layers, patterns, individuality, and risk-taking!"

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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Do you think Blossom influences fashions on the runway and the sidewalk today?
"Blossom was one of the first TV shows to use vintage on the main character (maybe the first) and Todd Oldham was bringing retro/vintage aesthetic to fashion at the time. I don’t think it’s ever gone away since then." How can we incorporate Blossom into our wardrobe and still keep the look contemporary?
"Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and tweak proportions. Search out ways to combine vintage with new in a fresh way, and, as always, be an individual. Trends are for followers!"

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson
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What are you working on just now?
"I recently finished a made-for-TV movie and am working toward a small quirky accessories line for local Echo Lake and Silverlake boutiques. I’d just like to add—I loved doing the show, it was a great opportunity to create a character’s style. I was just asked to do whatever created interest on the viewers’ part. Of course, a great deal of credit should go to Mayim Bialik. She played Blossom and was a major collaborator. Without her own unique sense of style and her willingness to try what I had to offer, the project would not have been so successful!"

Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Thompson