Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.I.P. Nolan Miller, Dynasty costume designer

Illustration for article titled R.I.P. Nolan Miller, Dynasty costume designer

Last week saw the death of Nolan Miller, an Emmy-winning costume designer whose work spanned over 40 years yet will always be most closely associated with the 1980s and Dynasty, where his splashy, sequined dresses and broad shoulder pads defined an entire decade's sense of glamour. Miller was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago; he died at the age of 79. Miller's death was first revealed by Dynasty star Joan Collins, whose wardrobe on that show—all shiny gowns, wide-brimmed hats, fur wraps, and other accoutrements redolent of old-school Hollywood flamboyance—so defined Collins' Alexis as a character, the actress continued to work with Miller for many years after the show's end, right through the 1997 series Pacific Palisades and the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads.


Miller's Dynasty look was easily the most well known, even spawning the show's very own Dynasty-branded line of power suits, but his influence went much further than that. The nascent designer got his start as Joan Crawford's personal tailor, after meeting her through the flower shop where he worked. It proved to be a pretty fortuitous day job: One of the shop's other customers, Aaron Spelling, hired Miller to work on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater, beginning a lifelong collaboration that would see Miller working on Spelling shows like The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Charlie's Angels, T.J. Hooker, and Models Inc., while also living with the Spellings for many years in their mansion. (He eventually left following a fight with Spelling's wife—reportedly over a dress.)

Miller's other iconic TV creations include the beaded dress that Tina Louise's Ginger wore on Gilligan's Island, and Morticia's flowing, cobweb-evoking black gown on The Addams Family.  In recent years, Miller had turned to selling a line of costume jewelry through QVC, which promises to keep alive the glamorous, glitzy aesthetic that was his signature.