Television shows and film sets often take on a life of their own, and the items that make up the wardrobe and props can become coveted by fans and actors alike. Ryan Reynolds famously managed to snag his Deadpool suit, and Daniel Radcliffe has Harry Potter’s glasses.
Other items from wardrobes have gone on to bring in millions in auctions. That white halter dress Marilyn Monroe donned for Seven-Year Itch netted a smooth $5.6 million. The cowardly lion costume from The Wizard of Oz went for $3 million.
Not all wardrobe items are so carefully handled, however. In the case of The Nanny, Fran’s entire wardrobe ended up in a thrift store!
‘The Nanny’ premiered in 1993
The Nanny ran from 1993 until 1999. To this day, it enjoys a dedicated fan base and a thriving afterlife in syndication and on streaming platforms.
The series, which was created by and starred Fran Drescher, revolved around a woman named Fran Fine. She got fired from her job and dumped by her boyfriend when she found herself mistaken as a nanny applicant by the widowed Maxwell Sheffield.
Through this misunderstanding, Fran ends up taking on the job and gets folded into the Sheffield house — which includes three children and a butler named Niles. The series provided plenty of laughs, high-profile guest stars, and some romance.
‘The Nanny’ put Fran’s personality on display
Much of the humor of The Nanny came from Fran’s boisterous personality and its tendency to clash with the extravagant — if a bit uptight — Sheffield household. From the very first episode, the character development drove the show’s progress. Fran and Maxwell Sheffield were clearly destined to have some tension, and their physical appearance helped showcase their personality differences perfectly.
Wardrobe designers know how to make symbolic choices that help bring the characters on the screen to life in subtle ways. For The Nanny, the wardrobe was so notable that it almost became a character of its own! The clothing was managed by costume designer Brenda Cooper, an expert who is known for her ability to navigate color and style choices with finesse.
As HuffPost reports, “Cooper clothed Drescher in looks by Moschino, Todd Oldham and Thierry Mugler, to name just a few. The character’s wardrobe typically sat right on the line between uber-chic and over-the-top.”
Each piece was carefully tailored to make an impact. From shoulder pads placed in a bathrobe to trimming and tweaking to highlight Fran’s sass and elegance, the wardrobe complemented the fictional identity.
‘The Nanny’ wardrobe ended up at a thrift shop
In an interview with Hello Giggles, Cooper opened up about the timelessness of Fran’s wardrobe: “That style that I created was made to transcend the test of time. It wasn’t created to be trendy. It is as wearable today as it is then. It’s bold, it’s bright, it makes a statement. It’s sexy. I think the millennials just love it.”
Not every item was from a luxury, retailer, however. Cooper was happy to take inspirational pieces from any source. “I didn’t care if it came from Neiman’s or Kmart. Today, I still don’t care. If I can make something work, I don’t care where it comes from,” Cooper explained.
In this way, Fran’s wardrobe was a mishmash of different influences that Cooper used to make them uniquely Fran’s own.
With a wardrobe this iconic, you would think that Cooper, the actors, or a museum would have kept up with the items. Sadly, that’s not what happened.
“When a show completes, all of the wardrobe goes into a central department at the studios,” Cooper explained. “It’s like a graveyard of all of these clothes. I went to track down the wardrobe which was at Sony, and it had just been sold to a thrift store in the Valley. I called the thrift store and I begged them; I told them I was the designer of The Nanny and they wouldn’t help me. People today have pieces of clothing in their wardrobe that are the original Nanny wardrobe and probably don’t know that.”