Last week, Netflix released Selena: The Series that sees Christian Serratos taking on the role of Selena Quintanilla. While the show follows the late Tejano superstar’s life and career, it also features some memorable Selena fashion, including the stage looks and the embellished bustiers that Selena famously made herself in real life.
But while the intricately designed bras are widely considered a Selena signature, Selena: The Series’ costume designer Adela Cortázar notes that the performer was not the first to wear the style. “It’s undeniable that Selena adopted and immortalized that moment in fashion,” she says. “[Though] we would be lying if we said Selena created that style. That look was a huge trend in the early ‘90s, and it was used all over the place.”
To create the bustiers for the show, in addition to looking at what Selena wore, Cortázar researched fashion of the ‘80s and ‘90s to know what was trending at the time and looked at other A-list celebrities and performers who wore high-waist pants and decorative bustiers on stage and red carpet.
“We found celebrities like Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, just to mention a few, wearing this look; as well as fashion designers showcasing it in their runways, such as Gianni Versace, Dolce & Gabbana or Jean Paul Gaultier; and top models like Naomi Campbell or Claudia Schiffer. And just like that you can [then] find the trend in magazine editorials and fashion advertising,” says Cortázar. “What I find the most interesting is that 30 years later, [the look] manages to still be as present as always, I guess thanks to her fans. I’m surprised they like it so much and that it instantly brings Selena to mind over all the other ones mentioned before.”
When recreating the “super feminine and sexy” look for the Netflix series, Cortázar and her team followed Selena’s lead and DIYed the bras that were bought vintage. “To me, [it’s] super important to achieve the real silhouettes of each time period; staying true to the cuts and cup styles of each decade is extremely important to get a good result,” says Cortázar, adding that her rule for period project costumes is that they have to be either vintage or custom-made. “We put ourselves on a real hunt to find the most authentic and vintage bras of that time. We bought the majority of them online from vendors all over the world… We were fortunate enough to find really beautiful vintage pieces.”
After sourcing what Cortázar calls quite a collection of bras from the ‘80s and ‘90s, the costume designer used them as a “base” to recreate the look. “With the bras in hand we took to the task of lining them, embroidering and styling them as each look required,” says Cortázar. “We used all kinds of stones, fringe, fabrics, cups, ribbon, wire, straps, and appliques to achieve what was needed.”
The result was near spot-on recreations that look like they could have come from the archives of Selena, who had her own clothing line and boutiques in the ‘90s. “Selena was a woman of many talents, one of them being a fashion designer at heart,” says Cortázar. “I feel like she turned certain looks and ways of dressing into real trends, creating a very unique style for the outfits she wore on stage, this one being one of her most iconic of all.”
Editor's note: This interview was translated from Spanish.