Elizabeth Glass: Hello Bernadette, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is such a fun and unique show, thanks impart to the vibrant and vast wardrobe you created. Before we jump into the series, how did you get started in costume design?
Bernadette Croft: Hi Elizabeth! When I was young, I was obsessed with those behind-the-scenes featurettes on how films were made. I was fascinated by the process. I went to university for design and did some work placements. It was through these work placements that I got my first job in TV. I worked in several different positions before becoming a Costume Designer. This has helped me appreciate every position that makes up the Costume Department.
EG: Those featurettes were the best and the reason I think a lot of us got into the industry! Getting into the show I would like to start with the crew of the Enterprise. Their uniforms are certainly reminiscent of the original series however they feel very modern and unique. Can you talk a little bit about reimagining such an iconic design?
BC: We wanted to pay homage to The Original Series with its vibrancy but update the fabrics and silhouette. We went with a polytech knit fabric that is bonded with microfleece. This helps the fabric have a bit of body and look smooth on camera. Even though creases are inevitable, we want the uniforms to look as smooth as possible…. Like they have been 3D printed! Gersha Phillips Co-Designed the first episode with me and I would say we offered up 30 uniform options to our show-runners and producers to decide from. We knew it was a big decision!
EG: One character’s wardrobe which is definitely a new take on the Star Trek uniform is that of Nurse Christine Chapel, what was the thought process behind her unique look?
BC: In terms of the timeline, Strange New Worlds is about a year after we last saw Pike on Discovery Season 2 and less than 10 years before the original series. We needed to link both shows visually. Nurse Chapel’s uniform is inspired from the medical uniforms from Discovery. We used department symbols as microprint on each uniform to add texture and visual interest. This microprint helps link all of the uniforms together. We camera tested Jess Bush in both white and blue jumpsuits.
EG: We also get to see the crew in their civilian clothes. What was the process of finding that balance between recognizable styles and something that looked futuristic?
BC: I love thinking about futuristic fashion! Sportswear and athleisure wear are the fastest-growing clothing categories. We often look at this type of forecasting when thinking of what people will be wearing in 200 years. On Strange New Worlds, we also lean into a retro-futuristic aesthetic. I love doing monochromatic looks and using a variety of fabrics like tech knits or textured fabrics with a metallic sheen.
EG: Another unique aspect of the show is the many different alien worlds that are visited throughout the season. In the first episode, the crew meets the people of Kiley 279 whose look is very reminiscent of earth. What was it like creating that first world?
BC: In our first episode of Strange New Worlds, we wanted to pay tribute to the 1960’s Star Trek aesthetic. The inhabitants of Kiley had a retro-futuristic look about them. I used a mid-century palette and did a lot of monochromatic looks. We used vintage suits and dresses and mixed in futuristic shoes and accessories. The background performers are so integral to ‘world building’. They help set the tone of a planet. There were over 100 background performers in that episode.
EG: Another alien race you had to design for was the Vulcans, particularly T’Pring. Can you talk a little bit about reimagining the Vulcans?
BC: Vulcans are my favourite alien to dress. I love how structured and tailored their clothing is. In terms of fabric, we often use metallic textured brocades with interesting patterns. T’Pring is a very confident, forward-thinking, and progressive Vulcan. I am influenced by Arlene Martel’s iconic silver dress from the Amok Time episode in The Original Series. When we paid tribute to this episode in Spock Amok, I worked with the incredible designer Iris Van Herpen. We chose a silver dress that looked geometric and alien. It’s like wearable art. We made an ornate headdress to pair with the dress to make reference to Martel’s elaborate hairstyle.
EG: Two other alien races we meet during the series are Majalins in episode six and the group of space pirates in episode seven. Can you talk a little bit about creating so many diverse looks?
BC: I’m initially inspired by the script. We have costume meetings to flesh out ideas and discuss the aesthetic. I’m inspired by fashion, nature, architecture, films, and music. I’m constantly collecting images and references. The Majalins in Episode 6 were described as ethereal and dreamlike. Their world was seemingly heavenly. I used a lot of flowing robes and gowns with a sunset palette and whimsical fabrics. The look of the planet was in stark contrast to the sinister undertones of the episode.
BC: In Episode 7 we are introduced to space pirates. I was inspired by Jenny Beavan’s work on Mad Max: Fury Road. Her use of found objects, gritty grimy textures, and risqué characters. This episode was kind of the opposite of the Majalian Episode! We used a dark muted palette for the pirate episode with pops of metallic. Every costume was broken down to give the pirates a rebellious look.
EG: You also worked as the assistant costume designer on Star Trek: Discovery, do you feel like your work on that series helped you prepare for, Strange New Worlds?
BC: Yes, it was wonderful to work on Discovery. I learned so much from designer Gersha Phillips. The importance of fabrics, streamlining construction techniques, and Sci-Fi styling. I was lucky enough to go to this year’s Star Trek convention in Chicago. Meeting the fans and seeing how important Trek is to them solidified how respectful I have to be to cannon.
EG: What did you find the most difficult about creating such a large project?
BC: I would say time! We always want more time to prep! We treat each episode like a film and want to infuse as much detail as possible. We want to inspire our beloved Trekkies and also attract new audiences that perhaps haven’t seen Star Trek before.
EG: What was the most fun part about working on this series?
BC: I would say the creativity. Contributing to cannon is a huge honor. I love collaborating with my team and working with the actors to develop characters. It’s a team effort and I’m very grateful to be a part of it!