We have already established that vampires run the best clubs… So it’s no surprise that vampire weddings are just as top-tier. Emmy Award-winning costume designer Laura Montgomery designed the costumes for the fourth season of What We Do in the Shadows which included a “touching” sixth episode that brought Staten Island together to see the wedding between Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) and his beautiful bride, Marwa (Parisa Fakhri). I caught up with Laura to discuss the What We Do in the Shadows costumes designed for this episode including a fun makeover montage, Nandor’s wedding look, and the return of Baron Afanas played by Doug Jones.
Spencer Williams: Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) goes through quite a bit this season in his journey for love! This brings us to the wedding episode. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Nandor’s wedding look in person, as you know, and I think it’s quite breathtaking. What was the story behind putting together Nandor’s look in particular?
Laura Montgomery: It all came together really quickly. We did seasons three and four in the same calendar year. At the point when we got the script for the wedding, we were either prepping or shooting the night market episode. I am just absolutely up to my eyeballs in the night market. There’s nothing else we can do. We have goblins, warlocks, witches, and all this stuff is going on! We had the concept meeting on the schedule for the next episode, and I got a rough outline, so I knew there was a wedding coming up. I got the script and had maybe ten minutes to read it before the meeting started. I’m just kind of flipping through, and I get to maybe the fifth page, and I see the makeover montage…
Spencer Williams: Oh yes. I’ve forgotten about the makeover montage. That is a lot of costumes just right there. It’s so funny.
Laura Montgomery: I just remember in the meeting trying to keep my cool! The meeting finished, and I just immediately went up to our producer, and I was like, “Okay. This group is amazing. I’m really excited to do it. If this is gonna happen, I’m going to need a second assistant costume designer, and they start immediately. I’m going to need another buyer. I’m going to need this and this, and this! To his credit, he said yes to all of it. All of our resources were already tied up with what we were shooting. I don’t even know if we had ten days to prep this. We can do this! We gathered our resources and got to work.
For the mantle over the shoulder of his velvet cape, we used a fabric that had some embroidery on it already. My textile artist, who’s a fantastic beader and embroiderer, spent many hours hand-beading. Those are the things that helped to really elevate it. I kept going back to the source material of formal paintings; plus, vampires always wear capes. We did the cape in velvet and then added that Sam Browne harness. It needed something more because he always has his military background, so we used a dressier leather and put a nice buckle on it. It all came together really quickly!
I had my cutter, Carla Mingiardi, who was absolutely incredible. She did almost all of the montage costumes. She was just pumping them out. I hired two more cutters. An amazing guy named Wing Lee. He did that gold bolero for Marwa. We just had to triage. For example, the sailor suit for Baron Afanas. We had to get the proportions right because… he has no legs. These costumes are all built. I can’t just go to the store and buy, and all of those beats were scripted. Doug Jones is tall! There’s no trench coat that exists that is floor length that I can buy in the next couple of days. We bought the fabric. We made the costumes. We aged them. My team is incredible.
Spencer Williams: It’s brilliant. You would think you had months and months to prepare for this based on how great it turned out. Since you mentioned Baron Afanas. I think I said to you in our first interview way back when, please, tell someone to bring Baron Afanas back every season. I got my wish. What was it like creating this look for Baron Afanas in his new rejuvenated body?
Laura Montgomery: It was a lot of fun! I didn’t want to stray too far from what had already been established for him. What Amanda Neale (S1 Costume Designer) did in the first season was really funny where he wore the two ruffs when he was going out for the night on the town. We have kind of established that he’s a ruff guy.
Spencer Williams: I appreciate a good ruff.
Laura Montgomery: With the ruff and the jabot…we did make the ruff and just tried to fancy everything up a bit. We made that ruff then we edged it with pearls. Finding the fabric for the coat was a challenge. I remember that was such a thing because fabric sourcing in Toronto is pretty difficult. But that coat needed a lot of fabric because he’s so tall, and it had the train and the flare! I found something, but there wasn’t quite enough. That is why. I am just selling it as a choice in a design detail, but it was not originally meant to have the sleeves as a different fabric than the body, which I think ultimately works. It was just because we got the fabric from New York, and there just wasn’t enough of the one that we really liked.
Spencer Williams: I love the contrasting sleeves. I think that’s a really great touch. It was meant to be.
Laura Montgomery: Sometimes these things happen, and then it ends up better!
Spencer Williams: That was a journey you had to go on. It looks more expensive to me, more regal. Plus, he’s Baron Afanas, so he’s covered in gold colors.
Laura Montgomery: It’s a bit more interesting. He had these great Fluevog-healed boots that Doug himself just loved. They found their way into his suitcase… He actually sent me a message that he wore them to a ceremony where he was being given a lifetime achievement award, and he just was like rocking those boots in his personal life.
Spencer Williams: He’s kind of like a costume designer’s dream actor, I imagine.
Laura Montgomery: He is! For me, it’s his hands and that signature way he moves his whole body. He has this really lyrical way of moving his hands. He’s so professional. He is so kind. He is so patient. If you need him to come for a fitting, it’s always “Where, when do you need me?” He has a lovely, lovely personality. This was something that the directors, producers, and show runners also wanted to do for him. He’s always in these heavy prosthetics, so they wanted to let him just be himself!