Jodie Whittaker’s new Doctor Who ensemble isn’t just functional, it’s fashionable—but in a way that’s quirky, slightly androgynous, and alternative. That’s no surprise, considering its origins.
In a new video, Whittaker chatted with costume designer Ray Holman about what inspired the new look for Doctor Who. She previously said she’d found the photo using a Google search, coming across a black-and-white image of a woman walking down the street in a beautiful, androgynous ensemble. That ensemble helped create the look that’s since inspired cosplayers around the world.
“The main journey of it came from a photograph that I found of a woman in trousers, [suspenders], and a t-shirt, walking with purpose. And I loved it and it felt timeless,” Whittaker said in the video. “It felt intriguing and kind of open to interpretation and I really love that. And it was neither male or female which was really important to me.”
After the video finally showed us the photograph that started it all, I spent the entire morning trying to find the source, reaching out to Holmer and the BBC for answers. But I didn’t have to wait for a reply! Much to my astonishment, some sleuths over at Reddit had already figured it out...two months ago, based on nothing but Whittaker’s description from a July 2018 interview with Entertainment Weekly. Now that’s what I call some dedicated fandom.
The image, which you can check out on Pinterest, is from the “Big Bottoms” fashion shoot in the September 1988 issue of Sassy, an alt-teen magazine that ran from 1988 to 1996. Reportedly taken by notable fashion photographer William Garrett, it’s part of a fashion spread celebrating young women in stylish menswear. The full issue of Sassy is archived on Pinterest, if you want to see the entire thing.
As someone who loved Sassy—or at least tried to secretly read it when my parents weren’t around—I love the idea that a fashion spread celebrating androgynous style in alt-teen magazine from the ’80s and ’90s was the inspiration for Whittaker’s look. It seems, well, fitting...if you’ll forgive the pun.
Update: William Garrett confirmed to io9 that he was a photographer for Sassy back in the 1980s and figures the photograph might be his, but couldn’t definitely claim it since it was so long ago. However, he did say he was honored that a photo he may have taken inspired a Doctor Who ensemble, given that he’s a major scifi fan.