moschino, missoni and marc jacobs — this instagram is cataloging the nanny’s fashion legacy
@whatfranwore is proving that Fran Fine was as stylish as any 90s supermodel.
For most kids who grew up watching The Nanny, Fran's style felt like an extension of the show's humour. Short, tight and possibly plastic, her outfits were often played for laughs. But returning to the show in reruns, many of us have realised there were some serious looks happening. These weren't your average cute outfits or statement accessories, Fran was a walking, nasal-talking, archive of 90s fashion opulence. We don't know what Mr Sheffield was paying her, but it was financing an endless rotation of Moschino, Dolce and Gabbana, Missoni, Anna Sui and Marc Jacobs. Before Carrie Bradshaw created a mountain of Manolos on a freelancers budget, Fran was the original fiscal fashion overachiever.
But unlike other fashion-plates on TV, Miss Fine was never an icy style queen. For her clothes were a way to express herself and standout in a world that wasn't immediately accepting of her. Sure there is irony in the fact that the upper crust Manhattanites were looking down on her in thousands of dollars of designer gear, but it doesn't change that at the centre of her relationship with fashion was fun and fantasy.
No one knows all this better than Shanae Brown, curator of Instagram account @whatfranwore. She has spent countless hours identifying Fran's looks, we spoke to her about the nanny named Fran's place in fashion.
Hey Shanae, were you a fan of The Nanny growing up?
I was too young to appreciate the show when it originally aired, but I do have memories of it being on TV and remember being fascinated by Fran Drescher's voice and laugh. I'd only seen the show in reruns, so in December of 2014 I decided to binge watch the entire series.
Is that when you realised the weight of her wardrobe?
I knew she wore a lot of Moschino because I had read articles that listed them as her designer of choice, but otherwise I just thought she wore really cute clothes. I didn't know they were all designer.
Your Instagram really goes into detail, it's not just the designer but the specific collection and sometimes you even post picture of other contemporaries in the look. How long does it take you to identify those outfits?
It is very time consuming, as you might imagine. Sometimes it takes 34 hours to find something, other times it takes five minutes.
How do you do it? It doesn't feel like something you can just Google.
I put in a lot of research, I watch all the episodes and I take screencaps of every single outfit. I started at first with a basic Google search of her more popular Moschino outfits, but I had already seen other people post those so I was interested in finding and identifying the ones no one had talked about before. For that I had to get a lot more creative with my research, I found myself digging through online vintage market places, 90s magazine ads and I also look to the top supermodels of the time. Basically, I use a combination of methods in order to correctly ID an outfit.
Did the show work directly with designers?
I know that Todd Oldham is a good friend of Fran Drescher and he lent her and Brenda Cooper, the costume designer, a lot of his pieces. I'm not exactly sure how closely they usually worked with the designers. Brenda Cooper did leave a comment on an outfit I identified as Herve Leger saying that it actually was a replica she had to make because the real dress they rented from Herve Leger had to be given back before they even had time to film Fran wearing it.
That's so cool she follows you. Was the show pretty reflective of Fran Drescher's personal taste?
As far as I can tell Fran Fine and Fran Drescher had very similar tastes. I came across a lot of photos of Fran Drescher in the 90s at events, and she wears a lot of Nanny Fine's outfits.
A lot of this went over our heads as kids, but do you think the show was part of fashion culture at the time?
Fran Fine also wore a lot of outfits that the 90s Supermodels wore on the runway, so I think seeing Fran wear those same looks made the outfits more relatable and accessible to ordinary women. She embraced short dresses, skirts, very bold patterns and wasn't fazed by what people had to say about her crazy style.
Text Wendy Syfret
All images via @whatfranwore