In my mind, The Morning Show exists in the same world as Succession—one where ridiculously wealthy people go from their lavish penthouses to private planes, and wear luxe clothes to do their stressful jobs—at least, when they’re not busy arguing with each other. But while the Internet filled up with articles on the Roy’s “stealth wealth” style, the employees of UBA didn’t seem to get the same treatment. In truth, the style on The Morning Show is just as covetable (and is arguably more realistic than Kendall Roy’s $500 cashmere baseball hat).
“Arguably” is the key world there, however. Because the truth is, Alex Levy, Bradley Jackson, and the rest of the TMS cast live in a lofty world with wardrobes that still remain unreachable for many who tune in every Wednesday night to see what’s new at UBA. “The show is elevated, which gives us the license to be a little more fantastical,” says costume designer Elizabeth Lancaster, one of three women who create the wardrobe for the Apple TV+ show’s exceptionally large ensemble cast. She is joined by Debra McGuire, who handles Jennifer Aniston’s wardrobe; and Sophie De Rakoff, who, after two seasons of dressing the rest of the cast, now focuses solely on Reese Witherspoon (aside from three episodes this season in which she is head costume designer).
“It’s a unique situation,” McGuire says of the triumvirate. “We are the luckiest three women in the world because we adore and respect each other.” Of course, working with three costume designers can be complicated when it comes to, say, making sure Witherspoon and Aniston’s looks don’t clash in a scene. But the trio has worked out a system to ensure each main character can stand out while looking cohesive with the rest of the cast. “Most of the characters at this point have quite a specific palette, so the crossover is minimal,” De Rakoff explains. The costume designers are in constant contact with each other about their respective looks up until the point of filming. “It’s like if you’re going out for dinner with your girlfriend and you both have the same skirt,” De Rakoff adds. “You’ll text her like, ‘You can wear the red skirt this time.’” Below, the three costume designers discuss their own approaches to dressing TV’s favorite set of workaholics, and how some of the best suiting moments of the season came to life with the help of Lafayette 148.
For Debra McGuire, The Morning Show was something of a small family reunion; McGuire dressed Aniston and the rest of the cast of Friends 30 years ago. “They were like my little family. And because they were so young, probably my connection to them was deeper than their connection to me,” McGuire admits. “I was with them every day for 10 years.” Three decades later, McGuire and Anniston are reunited, but under different circumstances. Instead of dressing a 20-something runaway bride on her own for the first time, McGuire is costuming Alex Levy, the nation’s daily cup of morning joe, a woman at the top of her network game.
“She’s at a high level, power-wise, in season three,” McGuire says of Alex. The first two seasons of the Apple TV+ show found Aniston’s character more or less in survival mode, making some—often unsavory—moves to get through the corrupt environment in which she found herself. Season three, though, sees Alex on slightly more solid ground, where, as McGuire describes it, she’s willing to expose more of herself. “We see a lot of V-necks, a lot of arms, and a lot of body-conscious shapes, pieces that only someone with a tremendous amount of confidence could really pull off,” she says.
But some things haven’t changed—like Alex’s bias toward luxury. Her costumes are comprised of brands like Saint Laurent and Celine. There’s a strapless Khaite jumpsuit that makes an appearance, as well as an Alexander McQueen look that unfortunately gets hidden behind a podium. Her palette, too, remains consistent with past seasons. McGuire describes it as “somber”: black, navy, camel, white, off-white, and gray. It’s not unlike Aniston’s own personal dressing preferences, which often veer toward the simple, chic, and understated. “I think she’s the queen of quiet luxury,” McGuire says, though it’s unclear if she’s speaking about Aniston or her onscreen counterpart—or both.
Like McGuire and Anniston, Reese Witherspoon and her costume designer for The Morning Show have some history of their own. The actress first met Sophie De Rakoff over two decades ago on the set of Legally Blonde. “Who knew that was going to be the movie that kickstarted everything?” De Rakoff says. “Well, I think Reese knew. I didn’t.” Since 2001, De Rakoff and Witherspoon have worked together on and off, on Legally Blonde 2, of course (don’t ask De Rakoff about the rumored third installment, she has no information), as well as other romantic comedies throughout the 2000s. “It’s a collaboration and a friendship that has grown over the years, but in its essence, it’s just two girls who love Dolly Parton and get together to create characters,” she says.
Previously, De Rakoff acted as the lead costume designer for TMS, but this season she has passed that title over to her former assistant, Elizabeth Lancaster. This time around, De Rakoff was fully focused on Witherspoon—a necessary move, as Bradley, like Alex, has gone through quite the transition over three seasons, from field reporter to nighttime news anchor. “In the beginning, she was always in denim and navy, rust, burgundy colors with a smattering of blue,” De Rakoff says of Bradley’s season one wardrobe. “Her character was quite dark internally, and that was reflected in her clothes.” Her move to morning news brought out dark greens and purples—but this season, we see some of Bradley’s brightest looks to date. “She’s lightening up because she’s more comfortable about her public persona, but there’s still a lot of black in there.” Episode one found Bradley in a “performative” light-blue two-piece set from David Koma, but the custom pieces from Lafayette 148 really elevated the character’s wardrobe.
“My mission wasn’t to redefine the characters, but rather to complement what Sophie built,” Lafayette 148’s creative director, Emily Smith, tells W over email. De Rankoff initially connected with Smith through Witherspoon’s stylist, Petra Flannery, and the two worked together to design a slate of suits fit for an evening news host. “Reese is not a person who wears oversized clothes, and that’s the trend right now in suiting and fashion in general,” De Rankoff explains. “That’s where Lafayette came in. We created this almost late ’70s network silhouette, with a wide-leg trouser and a fitted, high-collared shirt and blazer.” The pieces—including a burgundy suit and a camel jacket—are peppered throughout the season, creating what De Rankoff calls Bradley’s “armor.” “We’re not trying to redefine the landscape of contemporary work wear,” she says. “It’s always been about taking the individual character and figuring out their needs and executing them as best we can.”
“The big conversation on the show is: are you a Laura or a Stella?” says De Rankoff about Julianna Margulies and Greta Lee’s characters, respectively. “Those are the characters where we really and truly get to play and explore contemporary fashion.”
It’s true that Lee’s Stella wears some of the most eye-catching looks on the series; that’s been the case since season two. But now, as the new president of UBA’s news division, she has even more power and resources—an upgrade that’s reflected in her wardrobe. “In season two you might have seen her in an actual hoodie or tracksuit. In season three, she’s going to be wearing the Loewe version of that,” says Lancaster. “She’s still wearing a hoodie, but it’s made of very fine material, and it’s underneath an absolutely fantastic gray suit.”
Stella’s background in tech allows the designers to have a bit more fun with her wardrobe, placing her in Prada loafers, a whole lot of Sacai, and patterns other characters might not be able to pull off. “She has all of our dream closet,” Lancaster says. “It is definitely, to some degree, a creation of joy and fantasy.” That being said, Stella has her suiting moments as well, and Lafayette 148 stepped in once again to help bring one to life—a standout, yet slightly more traditional purple suit from episode eight.
But if Stella’s short-sleeve jackets and patterned tracksuits seem like a bit too much, you may fancy yourself more of a Laura—the character who would likely fit the most seamlessly into the world of Succession with her beautifully tailored suits and equally high-end off-duty uniform.
“There’s something endlessly cool about Julianna [Margulies] and the way she wears a suit,” Lancaster says. Like Witherspoon’s Lafayette 148 creations, Laura’s looks were often modeled after ’70s style. “You get a really fantastic fit-and-flare suiting silhouette for her, maybe with a sheer blouse or a pussy bow that has a masculine-feminine vibe.”
When she’s not chatting with Mindy Kaling’s Audra on YDA, Laura’s lounging at her ranch in Montana, likely in Rick Owens drop-crotch pants, a cashmere sweater, and Birkenstocks. “Laura is spare in how she says things, but what she says counts,” Lancaster says. “And it’s the same with her clothes. They’re not the most flashy, but they’re all in these luxe materials. Her character and her clothing echo each other in that manner.”