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Last week, Freeform announced that Life-Size 2, a sequel to the 2000 made-for-TV cult classic starring Tyra Banks as a stylish doll who becomes a human, had finally been greenlit. The news follows years of eager speculation from fans of the first film, and Banks will not only be reprising her role as Eve, but also executive-producing the project. According to Freeform, Life-Size 2 — which is set to debut in December 2018 — will be a “fun, edgy, modern Christmas movie” in which Eve is “magically awoken to help a young woman learn to live and love again.”
There’s no word yet as to whether Lindsay Lohan — who played Casey, the middle-schooler who brought Eve to life in the first movie — will portray Eve’s owner in the sequel, or whether she’ll even make a cameo. Casting news aside, of course, we’re most interested to see what Banks’s Eve — the chipper glamazon who skillfully juggles jobs as a secretary, doctor, and police officer — will wear this time around. Could it possibly measure up to her Chanel-esque tweeds and mermaid gowns from the original?
To find out, we hopped on the phone with Maya Mani, Life-Size’s costume designer. Though Mani won’t be working on the sequel, she had plenty to share about her time dressing Tyra, working with a teenage Lohan, and designing clothes for dolls and actors alike.
So walk me through the story you wanted to create for Eve in Life-Size.
Throughout the movie, we were trying to maintain the fact that Tyra was playing a doll, and that as her character developed, she became more human. That’s what I was going for. So all the colors were very bright and bold, and the styles she wore — like that yellow babydoll, and the scene where she’s dancing in the red dress — were meant to show that, well, she’s a doll in a human world. So I was trying to go for pieces that would be iconic in a doll’s world.
That explains why she’s wearing gowns for most of the movie, but jeans and a cropped tee at the end, I guess.
Exactly, because that’s the moment when she’s finally become “fully human,” as it were. In a strange way, it’s kind of like a little Pinocchio story.
In terms of research, did you draw on your own childhood experience playing with dolls?
Actually, I didn’t play with Barbie dolls growing up, so I didn’t have that reference. So I had to research it.
But you know, for Barbie’s 25th anniversary, there was a fashion show in Toronto that I did work on. All the models who were spray-tanned to look like Malibu Barbie, with blonde wigs. Of course, we weren’t designing the outfits, but rather taking doll outfits and reproducing them in a larger size, from the jewelry to the dresses.
What was it like working with a young Lindsay Lohan — and with Tyra?
Lindsay came into this project hot off The Parent Trap — and on the first day, in walked this very sophisticated young lady. We had been told we’d be working with a 15-year-old actress, and she was very stylish and happy and friendly. I remember she was wearing Prada shoes, and I thought, “Holy smokes!” What struck me most about her was that she was very family-oriented. Her sister and mom both came to set with her, and they were just a really tight-knit group.
Lindsay was lovely to work with. I was always taken aback by how professional she was — she’d come in and know her lines, she’d hit her marks, she was respectful to everyone.
And then Tyra came in, and I was just in awe. I mean, she’s Tyra Banks! You can put anything on Tyra Banks — it doesn’t matter, she will make it look beautiful just because of who she is. She was really game for anything.
Did you call in clothes for Eve’s wardrobe, or did you have to make everything yourself?
We built everything — well, most things. For the scene where Eve grows [into a human], for example, we knew that as she grows, the print she was wearing would have to grow. So we had to figure out a print that would look good both big and small, and then we found a place that could shrink that print for us.
There’s also a scene where she’s wearing a chenille bathrobe that was pink and had all this stuff on it— that was something we purchased. And some of her jewelry might’ve been vintage, actually.
The outfit I remember best might be the peach tweed suit she wears to her office job, which was clearly Chanel-inspired. That wasn’t actual Chanel, right?
That wouldn’t have been real Chanel — we didn’t have that kind of money! [Laughs]
It’s probably hard to choose, but which of Eve’s many looks was your favorite?
I loved her butterfly gown… and there was a fuchsia brocade suit with a crazy hat that was kind of fun. Oh, and we did this pink dress with matching pink oven mitts and apron — everything matched. I would say that was one of my favorites. All of Eve’s outfits matched, it was all very coordinated. I remember there’s a scene where she’s in a football stadium, and the lining of her coat even matches the lining of her umbrella!
I just remember having a good time designing all those clothes. Being able to design clothes for someone [like Banks] was a sheer joy.
What was the most challenging thing about working on Life-Size?
You know, originally, Barbie was a homemaker — and then soon she could do all these different jobs! She was an engineer, a doctor, a surfer. So we had to narrow it down to which looks we wanted to make [for the movie].
The script was constantly changing, also, which was challenging. I was trying to avoid having her go from a pink outfit in one scene to another pink outfit in the next. I like to change up the colors. There was definitely a penchant for pink on our set, so I was just trying to break all of that up.
Did you design the tiny doll outfits in addition to the looks for Tyra? Was that tricky?
I did! And, well, it was just everything in miniature, wasn’t it? [Laughs]
Were you shocked by how much people loved the movie? I feel like a lot of millennials out there still know all the words to “Be a Star”...
Really?! Wow — I didn’t know that. But yes, [I was shocked]. I mean, we were making a TV movie! But it was a lot of fun — that’s what I remember most about that shoot. We had a good time.
What do you think Eve would be wearing today? The same sparkly gowns and matching sets?
Oh, I hope not! I think she’d still have flair and a sense of fun about her. I don’t think she’d be as pop-y, though.
Like, would she be wearing an #ImStillWithHer pantsuit or something?
Oh my god, no, please. I mean, I’ll go on record to say that I like Hillary Clinton, but let’s not do that. Although, I mean... if anyone could rock a pantsuit, it’d be her.
Life-Size 2 will premiere on Freeform in December 2018.