‘Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies’ Costume Designer Worked Hard to Honor Original Film: ‘Any Nod We Could Give, We Would’

Angelina Kekich has taken on the task of designing costumes for projects such as Steven Spielberg’s “Falling Skies” or Stephen King’s “The Stand.” However, when it came to tackling the costumes of “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies,” it’s evident that the job was a passion project for the designer.

“This was an intense, passionate, emotional experience for me,” Kekich tells Variety. “It was important to follow in the steps of Albert Wolsky,” the costume designer for the 1978 “Grease” film. 

“The costumes needed to meet the demands of the choreography,” Kekich says. To accomplish this, she worked together with head choreographer Jamal Sims. She says, “The costumes needed to be durable and had to withstand the vigorous dance sequences.”

Pink Lady Cynthia (Ari Notartomaso) sports one of the most demanding performance costumes, consisting of quintessential T-Bird fashions. “We use[d] two-way stretch lining for each of the jackets,” said Kekich. “When we were looking for fabric for jeans, [it was a requirement] that the jeans had at least a minimum of a two-way stretch.”

The key to designing each costume came with creating them as part of a bodysuit, Kekich reveals. “We built many costumes onto body suits, which allowed our cast to have maximum movement, and also keep the costume into play,” said Kekich.

The “Pink Ladies” series serves as a prequel to the iconic film, so it was important to Kekich that her team paid homage to its predecessor.

One of the clearest parallels lives in the classic Pink Ladies jacket, something that Kekich reveals was an “honor” for her to develop. “I had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles, and I got to see an original Pink Ladies jacket — I got to see Marty’s jacket.”

After admiring the jacket and taking extensive photos, Kekich began the process of reimagining the Pink Ladies’ staple fashion. “It was important that it was similar enough to be an original jacket, but also different,” said Kekich.

The toughest part of recreating the jacket stemmed from pinpointing the perfect shade of pink. “I remember [looking at] different samples of colors,” said Kekich. “[The whole team] came together and we’re like, ‘This is the one, this is the color,’ it just had this soft, saturated 1950s quality.”

Kekich reveals another easter egg in the look of Pink Lady Olivia (Cheyenne Isabel Wells) that fans may miss if they don’t look closely enough. 

“Olivia’s first day back to Rydell, she reveals this bombshell silhouette which is inspired by Marilyn Monroe,” Kekich started. “[But] most importantly, [she pays] homage to Marty and Rizzo [while] rock[ing an] iconic neck scarf.” 

Olivia’s T-Bird brother Richie (Johnathan Nieves), too, sports a tribute to the late Olivia Newton John’s Sandy at the end of the film. “We [incorporated] red lining in the leather jacket [as] a nod to Sandy.” 

“Any nod we could give [to ‘Grease’], we would,” said Kekich.

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