Wagner says a good example of her resourcefulness on the series is the wardrobe of Kate, the preppy cheerleader antagonist of the sitcom starring Ashleigh Bradley. Ashlie Brillault plays. (“Those shows always had rich girls as foils,” Wagner said.) What’s the problem? How to make characters look rich on a budget. “Kate has these beautiful pleated cheerleader hem skirts, and we’ll cut them down,” says Wagner. “Then I’d make headbands out of the material we cut out. There was a lot of that. We had really little money on that show.”
Wagner had no children, So she didn’t know Lizzie McGuire was taking off with a young audience until she got a fan mail that included a photo of two girls dressed as the titular character photo. “I was like, oh well, maybe this show is actually up to something,” she recalls. She feels right. A collection of back-to-school apparel and accessories inspired by the show is launching soon at Limited Too. (Wagner played no role in it.) Branded pillows, books and CD players were also made. A successful feature-length film centered on Lizzie and her friends in Italy grossed close to $ million dollars.
Wagner, 63, summed up her contribution to the channel’s aesthetics in one word: color. There are a lot more. “When I first worked on the Disney Channel, I was told, ‘You have to understand that reality TV is basically competing with cartoons for kids’ attention,” she said. That’s why colors like turquoise, hot pink and emerald green are reliable and popular go-to colors for Wagner shopping. “When I try stuff, the producers always love it.”
via Lizzie McGuire, Wagner to continue On Zack and Cody’s Suite Life , starring Dylan and Cole Sprouse, and its spinoff The Suite Life on Deck 63. The fashion segment of the show is London Tipton, a hotel heiress (played by Brenda Song) in campy, Juicy Couture-adjacent attire. Glittering snow boots with a long skirt? London is your girl. “Brenda is really easy to wear,” says Wanger. “She said yes to everything I showed her.”
Making children’s shows (often veering into the absurd) also forced Wagner to come up with creative solutions in the service of their wacky tales plot. She recalls an episode in which London Tiptons becomes a vending machine — a plot point Wagner admits she’s still a bit confused about. “The author has seen something about this Japanese guy on the Internet…I don’t know,” she sighed. “Anyway, it turned out to be a piece of folded fabric that looked like a vending machine, but we had to mount it where we could make it open in real time so she could walk in. It was so stupid and too difficult. We Had four days to do it, but we did it.”