Chat with Anya Taraboulsy costume designer on The Good Witch
I am so lucky I was able to send the costume designer for The Good Witch a few questions in advance of the fifth season of the hit Hallmark Channel TV show! Starring Catherine Bell, Bailee Madison, Sarah Power and James Denton, the show is about Cassie Nightingale and how her arrival in the small town of Middleton effects everyone around her. Is she a witch? Does she practice magic? The show itself is a magical mix of gentle mysteries, family drama and, of course, romance.
Check out my jewelry designs seen on The Good Witch and enjoy the insights from Anya below!
1. How did you get your start in costume design?
When I was 17, and applying to fashion school, my older brother who was starting to work in production asked if I wanted to assist the stylist on a series of commercials. She was going to pay me to shop with her…I thought I had hit the jackpot. I continued to work with that designer/director team on a few other projects, including their first feature Summer shot in Montreal. I started fashion school at Ryerson right after we wrapped and after trying out several positions in the fashion industry throughout my years at university, I defaulted right back to film when I graduated. I enjoyed working with such a broad range of people, from actors and directors to lighting and camera technicians. I was far more passionate about designing and creating characters than for trends and high fashion.
2. How do you feel Cassie's look has evolved over several Good Witch movies and now five seasons of the TV show?
The first Good Witch film was shoot 11 years ago, so naturally Cassie’s character has changed a lot and evolved, both with age and with fashion trends. At the beginning, Cassie was a little more bohemian to reflect her travels, and now that she’s more grounded in Middleton, she’s a lot more casual chic, yet she still stands out in a crowd. Although Cassie is always well dressed, she has a timeless style so that even looking back at the first few films, she still looks great.
3. Can you tell us a little bit more about your process when you start designing for a character?
When developing a new character, I like to think about who they are, where they come from, what they do for a living, what they do for fun, where they’ve traveled and what they’ve been influenced by. When it comes to designing for Good Witch, I like to think about their motivation for coming to Middleton and helping them feel more at ease in their character as they embrace the magic.
4. Jewelry often plays a big role in The Good Witch mythology. Most notably there was the huge moment when Sam proposes to Cassie. Tell us a little about the process of creating that gorgeous engagement ring!
Designing the Merriweck gimmel ring was a lot of fun. The way the script was written gave us may specifics to work with, which gave us an exciting challenge. I designed the ring with Aimée Kennedy, a local Toronto jewelry designer (read about how to contact Aimée here). We played around with designs to see what would work best for the script and added a beautiful antique finish to give in that magical Nightingale flair.
5. Are there "magical" touches you like to weave into your looks for Cassie, Grace and Abigail?
Middleton’s witches always seem to sparkle somehow, and we often use little touches of jewelry, shiny accessories or accent colors to accentuate their magic, but our leading ladies always seem to sparkle even on their own.
The many fashion looks of Cassie Nightingale on The Good Witch
6. The world of Good Witch and Middleton is so serene and idyllic. How do you keep the characters grounded in reality but also keep the storybook feel?
In the recent seasons, the characters have started to dress a lot more casual to make them feel like real people, just like you and I. They’re not always so put together, some of my favourites are when Cassie & Sam are just lounging around the house. Jamie (Denton) looks great in jeans and a henley and Catherine can really pull off a cozy sweater. With a little jewelry and the right lighting, there’s still that mystical feeling.
7. How much do the actors contribute to building their characters' looks?
It’s always fun to have actors weigh in on what they want to wear and how they want to look in a certain scene to make them feel more in their character. Catherine Disher (Martha) always knows which jacket will be just right and how bold she wants to go with jewelry and accessories. Catherine Bell and Bailee Madison are always coming up with great ideas as well and introducing me to new designers.
8. What can we expect to see in the upcoming season 5? Will we finally see Cassie in her wedding gown and getting married to Sam?
The beautiful 1920s inspired dress that Cassie found in season 4 with the Elizabeth Merriwick initials embroidered in the lining was made by the incredible british designer Eliza Jane Howell. Can’t say too much, but Catherine looks breathtaking in that gown.
Cassie (from Catherine Bell's Instagram) in her wedding gown on The Good Witch.
Those earrings are by Adriana Orsini (shop for them here)
9. When it comes to jewelry...
a) Gold or silver?
b) Diamonds or pearls?
c) Bold or dainty?
The best part about working in film and television, is you never have to decide. There are always going to be characters that need all the different kinds of jewelry. Depending on an actors colouring, we may go gold or silver, but when you start to establish who they are, jewelry can really help tell that story. Did they travel and buy their earrings in India? Did that necklace get passed down from their grandmother? What kind of statement are they trying to make?
Thank you so much Anya for taking the time to answer my questions! Can't wait to see all of your hard work on this season of Good Witch.
If you'd like to know more about Anya, please visit her Instagram (where you can see her amazing Yoga practice) at @Acroyana