With parts of the world still under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all been spending a lot more time browsing Netflix than ever before. The offering just got that much better with the addition of several iconic Black sitcoms from the Nineties and Aughts, which have started streaming over the past few weeks: “Moesha,” starring Brandy; “Sister, Sister,” starring Tia and Tamera Mowry; “Girlfriends” with Tracee Ellis Ross, and “The Game” with Tia Mowry. “The Parkers,” starring Mo’Nique, starts today; later in the month “Half and Half” and “One on One” will be added.
Ahead of a weekend binge of “Moesha,” we spoke with the woman behind the show’s costumes, Yolanda Braddy, who was also responsible for the clothes on “The Parkers,” as well as the film “Space Jam” and the sitcom “Living Single.”
WWD: How did you get your start?
Yolanda Braddy: Moving from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, I started my career by actually doing extra work learning how shows and television and film sets work. I’ve been designing clothes since I was 13 and decided that I wanted to live in Los Angeles and have a career as a costume designer and needed to know what it entailed. I was a regular extra on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where I made friends with the costume department and was recommended to Jim Alvarez at NBC, where I began my career as a costumer; fast-forward to becoming an assistant costume designer/shopper on “General Hospital.”
WWD: How did you land the job as costume designer on “Moesha” and its spin-off, “The Parkers?”
Y.B.: “I was hired on “Moesha” originally as a shopper/customer. During the prep of the first episodes, the original costume designer was let go for whatever reasons and I was offered the position. I was so afraid because it was my first big television series of my career as a costume designer. My previous positions prepared me and I had expected to accept.
WWD: What were some of your favorite looks you created on “Moesha” and “The Parkers?” Was it hard getting luxury clothing back then for Black TV shows?
Y.P.: I have so many great fashion memories dressing the cast of “Moesha” and “The Parkers.” I like the montages and all the fun character clothing. Of course, the designer clothes were a great advantage — I would shop in New York at different showgrounds during the hiatus for the upcoming season. Dee at Showroom 7 was a favorite.
WWD: How important was it for you to dress the cast in Black brands?
Y.P.: It was always important for me to emphasize Black designers, especially on the main titles because they are shown every week. And I felt a responsibility. I live for being able to help and lift new designers.
WWD: We all loved Kim Parker’s style. How did you execute it so well?
Y.P.: Kim Parker’s style was so fun! I was able to get creative. She was a lot like me. I grew up a designer and would cut, redesign and create my own style. Kim and Nikki Parker were so fun!
WWD: What did being a Black stylist and costume designer mean to you in the Nineties versus now?
Y.P.: Being a Black costume designer on Black shows, the wardrobe budget was very different compared to white television shows that have fewer changes and are newer on the air. But I got creative and I knew how to get clothes on discounts or promotional and stay within my budget. It’s time for more Black shows in 2020. It always [bewilders] me that white costume designers can design Black shows but Black costume designers rarely design white shows or films.
WWD: With “Moesha” and “The Parkers” streaming on Netflix, there are rumors of possible reboots happening — what are your thoughts? How would Moe and Kim look in 2020?
Y.P.: Yes, there’s talks of “Moesha” and “The Parkers” rebooting. I hope they do, I’m ready for it and I am ready for the dichotomy of fashion for the cast.