By Christopher Cole
Stalker (2014- ) is scary because it sneaks up on you, which accounts for all the sleek clothes that allow the actors to move like panthers. In the episode “Tell All,” the costume designer Maya Lieberman draws on the excesses of the 1980s to 1930s elegance to bring the episode’s Real Housewives-like characters to life.
The series, created by screenwriter Kevin Williamson (the Scream films), centers on Beth Davis (Maggie Q) who’s the Lieutenant of LAPD’s Threat Assessment Unit (TAU) which investigates stalking crimes. In the episode “Tell All,” the estranged wife of a professional hockey player is terrorized by an intruder, just as she’s about to release a tell-all memoir.
The sports wife Stella (Laurie Fortier) makes a lot of people angry about her impending book, including her ex-friend Cynthia Walker (Chandra West). The two women bicker at cocktail parties and throw insults at each other, which sounds a lot like the women of the “Real Housewives” reality-TV franchise, but Stella and Cynthia dress better.
Stella and Cynthia are haughty, narcissistic women who crave attention and this craving reflects in their clothing. At the cocktail party, both women wear flowing column dresses like the goddesses in ancient Greek times; it’s a look that the Real Housewives wear all the time with a flute of champagne in one hand. Stella wears a column dress with silver leaf detailing on the thin straps that really emphasizes the Greek influence, but instead of thong sandals she wears a more modern choice: open-toed shoes with stiletto heel and platform sole.
When interviewed by Beth and TAU officer Janice (Mariana Klaveno) at the police station, Cynthia ravishes in a red chiffon blouse again commanding attention in a bold color. The shirt’s flowing fabric reflects how comfortable Cynthia’s life is, exuding leisure. There’s slight padding in the shoulders instantly evoking Dynasty and the 1980s silhouette. Similarly, when Stella is interviewed, she makes a statement in what seems like the vixen’s uniform: a leopard-print outfit. The leopard-print cardigan is interesting because the leopard spots are shaped like hearts paired with a leather skirt, once again summoning the spirit of the 1980s.
The main characters of the show—members of the TAU—have a style that contrasts strongly against the lurid styles of Stella and Cynthia. Beth and Janice dress similarly in chiffon peasant blouses and slim pants highlighting their trim figures. Beth starts the episode in a soothing beige chiffon blouse that’s in line with Cynthia’s blouse, but the more demure version. After getting fully involved in Stella’s case and getting closer to catching her own stalker, Beth is emboldened and it shows in her form-fitting sleeveless black top that’s flexible so that she can move like a panther; sleeveless always means virility to me. The mandarin collar is an unusual little treat since a crew neck or turtleneck is expected.
Jack Larsen (Dylan McDermott), a detective in the TAU, jogs in an early scene wearing a nylon shirt that clings to his body as do his pants as he strides in flawless cross trainer sneakers. Even the clothes Jack wears to work are slim-fitting and cat-like, making him the masculine mirror to Beth.
As much as the clothes differ in the episode “Tell All,” they manage to intersect blurring their differences: men dress as slinky as women and women dress as virile as men. The ultra-feminine clothes of Stella and Cynthia shed the light on the darker, simpler styles of the police enforcers at the center of “Stalker.”