Buttered Popcorn

Lily Rose Depp’s Red Bodysuit Is The Only Good Thing About The Idol

Costume designer Natasha Newman Thomas definitely understood the assignment.


Buttered Popcorn is a monthly column that cover the wardrobe in fashion in current TV shows.

Hello Angels,

Sam Levinson’s The Idol has taken over the coveted 9 pm HBO Sunday slot, and it teases a glamorous and mockingly sleazy promise. The creator of the hyper stylized Euphoria comes back with the story of a maligned pop star clawing her way back to salvation with a healthy combination of “sex, drugs, and hot girls.”

Costume designer for The Idol, Natasha Newman Thomas, has styled music videos for the likes of Demi Lovato, Adele, and The Weekend’s title track for the show itself “Double Fantasy.” The stylistic curation throughout her work has a commonality with the female popstar troupe: a position unstuck from trend and reality. To be a star, one has to connect with an audience while remaining above them. Fans want to be able to relate as well as dare to dream. If you want the part, you have to dress like it. Performers can be as glitz, as glam, as bold, as everyone needs to be at a House of Yes theme party. Thomas, in the show's trailers alone, has given us a look worthy of a penthouse suite among pop star fashion royalty.

“To be a star, one has to connect with an audience while remaining above them. Fans want to be able to relate as well as dare to dream. If you want the part, you have to dress like it.”

The styling of a fictional pop star can only be born from a walk down a rhinestone encrusted memory lane. A mixture of talent and a highly curated image is the winning combination to fulfill the capitalistic demands of pop stardom.

Bridging the gap in the 1960’s between disco and pop, Cher is one of the pioneers of pop fashion. Beginning in the early 1970’s, she began to marry the Vegas showgirl with the poise of old Hollywood glamor. Wearing a sheer mesh dress with white ostrich feathers and crystal modesty covering to the 1974 Met Gala, designed by Bob Mackie. As an influential figure in his own right, the pair defined a look that has been remastered and recreated numerous times.

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Tina Turner, an additional muse of Mackie, reflected a similar aesthetic within the same decade. A look from her 1970’s Vegas residency included a bodysuit, cleverly utilizing chains for fringe to withstand countless performances and movement required. A wispy pair of pleated wings completed the ensemble to imbue superhuman capabilities.

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Madonna took over the mic in the mid-1980’s, as a self proclaimed “boy toy” playing with the virgin-Madonna complex. Her early looks mixed lingerie and corsetry with pearls and rosary beads. In collaboration with Jean Paul Gautier, she brought a cone shaped bra back into the fold. For her 1990’s tour, maxed out the bullet bra with a cinched waist high cut bodysuit. A silhouette originating in the late 1940’s at the time was pushed from pin up girls to housewives, while Madonna’s points remained on stage. Her exaggerated form created a clear divide between a moment in pop fashion as opposed to what is replicated in reality.

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Next up, of course, it’s Britney bitch. Considering the fourth and final trailer for The Idol used “Gimmie More” as its soundtrack, direct descendance for character development is more than implied. Beginning in 1998 as a braided hair, pink scrunchie, short skirt wearing schoolgirl - Britney’s fashion journey seamlessly melded the world of costuming with fashion. In the “Toxic” music video, she pays an homage to Cher’s mesh crystals in a catsuit of her own, bouncing between false modesty and a futuristic flight attendant uniform. Spears’s style in the early 2000’s pushed the envelope of super stardom throwing a boa constrictor around her neck like an Hermes scarf.

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With a neon pink “Jocelyn” sign overhead Lily Rose Depp emerges from her backup dancers in an otherworldly red and nude bodysuit. Crystalized corsetry with an ornamental molded cup bra, that serves both over and under boob. She looks candy-coated, covered in plastic, genetically engineered for the screen and viewers like you. It gives Mugler, while remaining completely original and designerless. Although fictional, each real life pop star highlighted above has a public persona that follows the same formula. With numerous billboard chart toppers to play us out.

Fit within an inch of its life, the look feels ahead of its time while remaining vintage, which strikes a harmonious balance of our current state of clinging to the past while being thrown into the future. Nodding to the roots of pop while looking as though it could easily be animated for metaverse avatars, “Jocelyn” is hitting all the right notes on her way up or possibly down?

It’s too soon to say for sure, but considering the palpable anticipation, the world will definitely be watching with sunglasses on, indoors.

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