Just when you think the What We Do in the Shadows costumes couldn’t get better, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) opens up her hot-new vampire club, Nadja’s. Once the season ended, I knew I had to speak with Emmy award-winning costume designer Laura Montgomery about What We Do in the Shadows clubwear costumes and the vampire’s dive into totally normal human clubwear.
Spencer Williams: Laura, it’s so good to see you. I love that we are talking about What We Do In The Shadows costumes at least twice a year at this point.
Laura Montgomery: I know. I’ve been lucky. And I will get to see you in person soon!
Spencer Williams: Right! The Costume Designers Guild Awards are right around the corner. Speaking of, you and the What We Do in the Shadows costume design team were just nominated in the Excellence in Sci-Fi / Fantasy Television category! It’s been a little while since our first interview. I am just so endlessly proud and happy for you. You’re now Emmy award-winning costume designer Laura Montgomery. How does it feel?
Laura Montgomery: It all happened really quickly last year. Going to the CDGAs was the first time I ever did anything like that. It was a dream come true. I’m someone who has always watched award shows on television, that’s my Super Bowl! Then to be living that dream… it was just so unexpected and really gratifying for me, my team, for the show.
Spencer Williams: I’m so happy for you! Plus, I am going to go ahead and predict many more award shows in your future!
Alright, let’s check in on our favorite vampires. This season was all about transition. My favorite part about the season was watching Nadja and her journey from being on the Vampiric Council to being a club owner. I loved her costumes as they kept that familiar Nadja, gothic look that we love but also included some clubwear elements.
Laura Montgomery: It was such a dream! It was a real treat because we have these characters, and they’re not supposed to change that much. They are vampires; their look is established. There isn’t a lot that you can really do to change them unless it’s in the script. But essentially, throughout this whole season, our characters go on different journeys, which dictates that they have to have different clothes.
By nature, clubwear is really over the top, colorful, bright, and attention-getting. When we combined Nadja with clubwear, there were just so many opportunities, and Nadja was such a good fit. She already does wear a lot of big, shiny things that are pretty over-the-top.
Both Natasha (Natasia Demetriou) and I, during Covid, (or just in life in general) watched a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race…
Spencer Williams: *laughs* Brilliant. Incredible. Amazing
Laura Montgomery: *laughs* That was kind of perfect inspiration too.
Spencer Williams: You’ve told me before that The Guide (Kristen Schaal) is one of your favorite characters to dress, so seeing her translate into the club scene was actually quite hilarious. It’s a little eighties. It’s just wild and certainly out there.
Laura Montgomery: I think we called it the Madonna. That might be because of the wig. It’s very eighties but also early nineties club kid. I was really inspired by that aesthetic when I was young. I remember when the club kids were going on all the talk shows with their 12-inch rainbow platforms. That whole club kid era was so creative and so bright. I looked at a lot of nineties club kid pictures, and that’s where I took inspiration for The Guide. She doesn’t have a lot of rules, which is fun. Her main rule is her color palette. I really stick to the monochromatic color palette for her. It’s very grayscale. She tends to be a little bit edgier architectural in her inspiration.
Spencer Williams: Talking about that club kid aesthetic, I loved the Blade references and aesthetic with the blood sprinklers. I noticed many vampires in the background were also rocking their best clubwear.
Laura Montgomery: I’m so lucky. Our background coordinator, Jill Lerner is amazing, and her specialty is in weird, wacky fashion styling. This season was an absolute dream for her! *laughs* We do a lot of pre-fittings, but then we also pull people together on the day of shooting. A number of people you see are just average-looking people that we transformed into vampires. Some of them came in through casting, which was really helpful because sometimes, the background casting agent would cast people who already had a look. Otherwise, you would just get a run-of-the-mill person, and we would have to turn them into something sexy, creepy, and weird. I wish we saw more of them. She just did such a good
Spencer Williams: I think one of my favorite scenes is when we’re first introduced to the club, and you see Nadja talking to everyone in the line. You get to see all of the costumes just lining up! It was perfect.
Laura Montgomery: Aw, thanks! Did you see the denim capes?
Spencer Williams: I remember the line, but maybe I was distracted by Nadja being a style icon.
Laura Montgomery: There is a scene where Nadja says to two background performers, “you two, in the denim capes, go back to New Jersey!” We did a whole head-to-toe homage to Justin and Brittany. Even the shoes were denim.
Spencer Williams: Stop it. We might need to end early; I got to get back in front of my television. There are some serious, fun celebrity cameos like Fred Armisen, Frankie Quinones, Jim Jarmusch, Thomas Mars, and THE Sofia Coppola. This was wild. I just kept thinking about the fine line between this show and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Laura Montgomery: It was very cool! Those are the moments when you just have to remind yourself, “Yep. I’m cool with this. I’m a normal person. I’m not freaking out” When Sofia came in for her fitting, we started talking about pickleball because she’s good friends with our showrunner. He’s really into pickleball. People are obsessed with pickleball on What We Do In The Shadows *laughs*. It’s so random. Sofia mentioned that her dad has a pickleball court at his house. Afterward, when we were all just kind of decompressing, we were like, okay… her dad! No big deal, she is talking about Francis Ford Coppola.
Spencer Williams: *laughs* Oh, you mean the director of Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Never heard of him!
Laura Montgomery: Everyone has a dad. No big deal! *laughs* Her character, gets covered in a lot of blood too. Sofia was playing herself. So we had to provide versions of her own clothing that we could get in multiples. There was a lot of conversation, asking her what she would wear. What kinds of things do you wear? Sofia actually made it very easy. We tried on a few options, and then we ended up with this men’s tuxedo shirt from Suit Supply. It was perfectly her. Chic.
Spencer Williams: Another celebrity cameo! Affion Crockett plays vampire rapper, Richie Suck. What was the inspiration behind his clubwear?
Laura Montgomery: I love Richie Suck. We had a lot of fun with him because there was his casual home look… which was in a smokestack. But for his performance looks… full disclosure I just stole from Tupac! Tupac wore overalls that had thug life embroidered on the waistband. Richie’s overalls had “blood life” embroidered on the waistband.
Spencer Williams: That’s so funny. But that’s what Richie Suck would do! Laura, thank you so much. The What We Do in the Shadows costumes were brilliant. I am ready to go clubbing now.
Laura Montgomery: Aw, thank you! Same.