Normal People’s Costume Designer Explains How She Gave The Cast Their Incredible Style

Lorna Marie Mugan reveals how she dressed the characters in the show – and how she had to loan Marianne her own boots.


by grazia |
Updated on

Sparks are flying on our screens at the moment thanks to the undeniable chemistry between Normal People's Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal. The pair have become overnight sensations thanks to the global success of the show. As we sit and watch their complicated romance, it's easy to forget the work that's going on behind it. But if one thing stands out in particular, it's the clothes. The school uniforms. Connell's sportswear. And of course Marianne's entire wardrobe. For costume designer Lorna Marie Mugan, who has worked on Peaky Blinders and Vita And Virginia, it was a highlight. 'I don’t think in my twenty five year career I’ve read such good reviews,' she tells Grazia.


Working with Paul and Daisy has been a joy, she says, calling them 'very, very humble.' 'They were just so appreciative of everything that was happening to them, of everything that you do for them, and they just loved the job,' she adds. 'I'm delighted that this has got such positive press for them. No two people deserve it more.'

After discussing the best approach with director Lenny Abrahamson, Lorna began creating countless mood boards. Then, shopping. Lots of it. Dressing a large cast required trips to the high street, second-hand shops and lots of online scouring. 'It can be absolutely overwhelming doing all that shopping,' she admits. 'You have to set aside blocks of time, and focus on who you are shopping for today: otherwise it’s too random.'

Normal People costumes Marianne

With Marianne’s fringe inspiring many to reach for the scissors, she's also got us rifling through our jewellery box. Her array of amazing earrings are, Lorna says, 'a mix of vintage, second hand, Eighties-feel pieces. We even made some, by breaking up some things and attaching them to other things. There was a lot of that.'

There were, naturally, challenges, among them making actors in their twenties fit children's clothes. 'It worked better on some than others,' she says. 'The school we used had a uniform with grey trousers so I think we used some of their kids as extras. But obviously we bought our cast uniforms, we had to get our own crest designed and printed. So it was cobbled together from bits and pieces.'

normal people couple style

Lorna worked hard to present the way in which a teenager's style evolves from school to university as naturally as possible. 'We didn’t want to just shake off everything that was part of their youth,' she explains. 'You take little bits of them with them. You explore how they find themselves as they evolve. Subtlety was the key.'

Also key: keeping hold of your favourite pieces from your own collection. 'When Marianne is standing outside Trinity in episode 5, in a polka dot blouse and a peachy corduroy skirt, she's wearing my boots,' Lorna says with a laugh. 'This is the funny thing: we did a lot of vintage shopping, but sometimes you realise "well, I’ve got stuff from twenty years ago that Marianne would probably buy." So there are a fair few things that she and other people are wearing that are mine.'

normal people Marianne dress

With more than two decades in the industry behind her, there's little that Lorna hasn't done. But there is always something new to be found. 'I haven’t really done futuristic, yet,' she points out. 'I’m kind of curious to dabble in that. Or medieval. I’d love to do way, way back, or way, way forward.'

Before that, though, a final, vital question: did she get her boots back? 'Oh yes,' she is glad to say. 'I got the boots back.'


SHOP: The Normal People-Inspired Edit


The Normal People-Inspired Edit

& Other Stories, Puff Sleeve Mini Dress, £551 of 14

& Other Stories, Puff Sleeve Mini Dress, £55

Topshop, Checked Trousers2 of 14

Topshop, Checked Trousers, £39

M&S, White Lace-Up Trainers3 of 14

M&S, White Lace-Up Trainers, £23.60

Hobbs, Printed Velvet Blazer4 of 14

Hobbs, Printed Velvet Blazer, £127.20

ASOS, Black Sundress5 of 14

ASOS, Black Sundress, £28

Uterqu00fce, Geometric Earrings6 of 14

Uterqüe, Geometric Earrings, £59

Zara, Corduroy Pinafore Dress7 of 14

Zara, Corduroy Pinafore Dress, £49.99

Olive, Polkadot Blouse8 of 14

Olive, Polkadot Blouse, £69

Tu, Printed Sundress9 of 14

Tu, Printed Sundress, £20

Miista, Leather Boots10 of 14

Miista, Leather Boots, £175

Lucy & Yak, Corduroy Dungarees11 of 14

Lucy & Yak, Corduroy Dungarees, £54

Rixo, Printed Silk Blouse12 of 14

Rixo, Printed Silk Blouse, £185

H&M, Black Slouchy Jumper13 of 14

H&M, Black Slouchy Jumper, £19.99

New Look, Floral Shirred Wrap Dress14 of 14

New Look, Floral Shirred Wrap Dress, £19.99

Normal People is available online on BBC Three

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