Behind the Glam: The Costume Designer of ‘The Nanny’ Reveals the Secrets of Fran Fine’s Iconic Style

She Had Style, She Had Flair: The Costume Designer of ‘The Nanny’ Breaks Down the Show’s Iconic Looks

The first rule of costuming for the screen is to never let the clothes speak louder than the dialogue. But when that dialogue is spoken by Fran Drescher, the star of ’90s sitcom The Nanny, who used a now-iconic Queens, New York, accent to play the lead character, the clothes need to scream.

“Fran was sassy, spirited, outspoken, but always an underpinning of elegance, pushed right to the edge of tipping it to the edge of something not good!” says The Nanny costume designer and frequent Drescher collaborator Brenda Cooper. “I didn’t really know I was doing [it, but Drescher said] that I had the ability to elevate the comedy with style. You’re building a character. If you’re doing your job right, I wanted the audience to smile the moment they saw her, before she delivered her first line.”

Cooper certainly did her job right, with the fashion of The Nanny experiencing a resurgence in recent years after many people rediscovered the show on streaming platforms during the Covid lockdown. The fashion has become perhaps the most recognizable and iconic aspect of the show. After all, the only Emmy The Nanny won during its six-season run was for Cooper’s costuming, which is celebrated in her retrospective exhibition currently on display at Santa Monica College (the statuette for which she pulls out during her interview with Shondaland).

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“I didn’t want the show to have a time stamp,” Cooper says. “I wanted to create a look that 30 years into the future, the look of that show would be as popular today as it was back then.”

My own recent rewatch confirms that not only are 95 percent of Fran’s outfits objectively wearable today, but also that her bright colors, daring patterns, and form-fitting outfits certainly influenced this writer’s style (meaning that I could pull from my own wardrobe to go as Fran Fine for Halloween this year).

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