2021 Emmys Roundtable – Outstanding Period Costumes

Spencer: Hey Team! Thank you so much for being here. There is SO much great costume design in the Outstanding Period Costumes category this year. I also think it is safe to say Period Costumes is the favorite here at The Art of Costume, so I know you all have many thoughts! Let’s go around and talk about your favorites and why! Let’s start with Mariana, a big fan of period costumes!

Mariana: Hi everyone! Well, where to begin? I am a fan of period pieces, and this year’s nominees filled my heart with pure joy. One of my favorites will be The Queen’s Gambit, designed by Gabriele Binder. There is so much drama and passion in these costumes, which at the same time are accurate to the time period and work brilliantly for storytelling purposes. I love how Beth’s style transforms through the years and cities she visits and tells us who she really is! 

My second favorite will have to be The Crown, designed by Amy Roberts. Every single costume worn on this TV Show has always been a masterpiece, and this season, with Princess Diana’s stunning wedding dress, was beyond what I imagined! 

Spencer: Two brilliant choices Mariana! Let’s hear from Candice next.

Candice: I will say typically, Regency-era costumes are not my favorite. However, I was hooked on Bridgerton when the first trailer was released. Ellen Mirojnick and John W. Glaser’s take and designs on the era have made me reconsider my previous opinions on the time frame. I am a HUGE fan of the Featherington Family and their costumes in particular. The bright, bold colors and embellishments drew me in. A close second would be the costumes designed for the Queen. 

Speaking of Queens, The Queen’s Gambit’s costumes were beyond words. The subtle nods to chess within the costumes were brilliant while conveying the complicated character’s nuances.

This is such a hard category, Ratched was awe-inspiring, and the show with their costume contest saved Halloween during a pandemic while many were unable to be creative with friends. Halloween is my favorite holiday and the costumes that fans re-created during October last year were a testament to Lou Eyrichs’s talent and storytelling through clothes. 

Spencer: Ah yes, Ratched was such a great show. I need it to come back like now… Elizabeth I would love to hear your picks.

Elizabeth: Hello everyone! There were so many good period pieces this year, but I really loved Bridgeton, and the costumes immediately grabbed my attention. The Regency era is a particular favorite of mine, and I loved how Ellen Mirojnick and John W. Glaser truly brought the costumes to life. While the overall style and silhouettes of the costumes remain faithful to the Regency era, the designers fill them with color and embellishments that bring a modern, energetic flare to Bridgeton. 

A close second favorite this year is The Queen’s Gambit. While not the flashy, attention-grabbing drama Bridgeton is, Gabriele Binder creates a thoughtful, meaningful wardrobe that reflects its heroine’s inner passions and feelings. 

Spencer: Bridgerton and The Queen’s Gambit seem quit popular here! Thank you Elizabeth, now I would love to hear from Csilla!

Csilla: Hey Everyone! It is tough to choose just one from this category; all the shows and their costume designers were terrific! But if I had to choose one, my favorite has to be Ratched. That show had such a brilliant color palette, and the costumes from Lou Eyrich were just stunning. I love the end of the 40s, the beginning of the 50s era, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so I was excited to see the back story of Nurse Ratched. The aesthetic of the whole show was beautiful but dangerous and scary, and these mixed feelings about the characters were present in every silhouette, even in the uniforms. 

My close second favorite is the Queen’s Gambit. I agree with the rest of the team on that completely. Such wonderful designs from Gabriele Binder. 

Spencer: Thank you so much Csilla. Well, I guess it’s my turn!

My favorite costumes within this category are easily to Netflix’s Halston, with costumes designed by Jeriana San Juan. I fell in love with this show, primarily because of the costuming. She had so much ground to cover, so many decades of research, and brought it all together perfectly. The tie-dye collection, ultra-suede shirt dresses, The Battle of Versailles, Studio 54, Martha Graham’s Persephone – there was so much, and every single costume stood strong. On top of all of the brilliant costuming, Jeriana also worked alongside actor Ewan McGregor to teach him the ways of the designer, coaching him through the process of becoming Halston

Halston – Courtesy of Netflix

This is Jeriana’s year in my opinion, but I am still in love with every other nominated show in this category – literally, all of them were amazing. It’s a tough call!

Thank you all so much for joining me! I can’t wait to see how this all plays out!

Vote For Your Favorite Period Costumes Below!

A Reflection on the Costumes of Mulan

A costume designer’s job is difficult, stressful, and demanding. However, designing for a movie that already has a dedicated fan base becomes substantially harder. You are placed under a microscope with fans dissecting your every decision and whether they believe you are the right person for the job. When you add on Disney Fan Base that is already in love with this established character, the scrutiny can feel daunting. If Costume Designer Bina Daigeler felt that intense pressure when she was chosen to design the costumes of the live-action adaption of Mulan, it never showed or affected the quality of her work. 

Daigeler proved she was the right choice for Mulan as her beautiful costumes mesmerized audiences, removing the constant comparison to the animated film. Instead, she reignited and inspired a new love for the storytelling of Mulan’s journey. Her hard work has not gone unrecognized as she won the 2021 Costume Designer Guild Award for Excellence in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film.  These colorful and insightful costumes also brought forth a prestigious nomination for this year’s Best Costume Design Academy Award.   

Disney’s Mulan tells the story of a young woman who didn’t fit in with society’s mold; she fearlessly steals her father’s armor to save her family while knowing it will most likely bring dishonor as she must pretend to be a man to train and become a warrior in the Imperial Army. Through self-discovery, she learns that being loyal, brave, and true is not gender-specific when becoming a hero. 

Mulan fights to become a warrior, a job not allowed by women, and those who have tried are labeled a witch. This theme hits home as they fight for Pay Equity among Costume Designers is being brought to the forefront. As Costume Designer and Costume Designer’s Guild President Salvador Perez stated at the Costume Design Guild Awards, “Our pay equity committee is energizing us all to fight for pay equity. As costume designers, we are such an integral part of the storytelling process, but as our work is traditionally done by women, we are paid much less than departments led by men. It is time for pay equity now.”  Costume Designer Bina Daigeler eloquently stated, “Without us Costume Designers, the movies would be naked.”  

It’s not always easy to articulate how hard the role of the costume designer is. Yet, the director of Mulan, Niki Caro, did so beautifully when talking about Daigeler in an Instagram post. 

“It’s hard to overestimate how important costume design is on a movie of this scale and scope. Costume Designer Bina Daigeler @bina_daigeler_costumedesign began with Mulan’s most critical costume. This costume needed to disguise Mulan as a man but then reveal her as a woman. It needed to take her to war (armor) and move with her through martial arts-based action choreography. Bina approached the design with her trademark intuition and logic and her abundant artistry and creativity. The shots of Mulan fighting are some of my favorites in the movie. I see a fearless warrior, but I also see a real woman, and I love how Bina’s design reveals the strong female body. I love how it moves with Yifei – how it’s both tough and flexible. Bina created something genuinely iconic, and one of my most cherished dreams is one day seeing a whole tribe of little warrior Mulans on Halloween.” 

Niki Caro – Director of Mulan
Photos via El Capitan Theater- Twitter Account

Daigeler wanted to ensure that she was respectful of Chinese culture, incorporating themes, symbolism, and colors into her inspiration and interpretation of her designs. She immersed herself in history,  spending several weeks in China, visiting museums, speaking with experts, and reviewing books. However, it is important to note that this is a Disney fantasy production and not a documentary or historically accurate Film.  The rich and vibrant culture of China can be seen as an inspiration, especially the Tang Dynasty, throughout the costumes and details that Daigeler and her team meticulously created.  


“I just tried to soak up every different dynasty there was and to get as much possible visual research of the different periods that are there about the Chinese culture. But we did a Disney movie. We did our own version of the Mulan story. I was never [going] to do, like, a documentary. It’s a mixture of ideas. It’s like when you get a recipe. And you test it, follow your own intuition with ingredients. There’s a lot of base Chinese history, but then, of course, there’s a lot of my own vision of the fantasy of the vision of the director, of the script. “

Bina Diageler interview with Comicbook.com

She mentions in numerous interviews; she obtained the hand embroidery and richness of the costumes because she had the support, time, prep and production time, an amazing crew, and the budget. That included Cathryn Avison assisting with the beautiful embroidery.  

Designing the costumes for this film was not an easy task as multiples were needed, including different variations of the same costume to allow for different action sequences. For example, the leather armor needed to move while fighting, riding a horse, being underwater. As she told Variety, there were approximately six different versions with different materials and weights. Some variations have the plates removed to allow for the required movement in the scene.  

The armor was generally painted leather, with the sections being handstitched, requiring two people trained in tying sailors knots to dress the actors. These alterations to costumes can often be seen as mistakes or continuity errors, but it’s not often having the same costume work in every situation. An example of this would be the stunt version of Mulan’s shoes. The leather boots were actually Stella McCartney sneakers in disguise with her crew wrapping leather around them. These sneakers became so popular most of the departments bought their own pairs. Costume designer Bina Daigeler worked closely with Weta Workshop to build the armor.  

“Our congratulations to Mulan Costume Designer Bina Daigeler for her Best Costume… Oscar nomination announced today. Bina’s designs were creatively inspiring and beautiful in their detail. We are so proud to have had the opportunity to work with Bina and bring her incredible designs to life in the 300 suits of armor we created for the film” (See Photos Above)

Weta Workshop – Instagram

The development of the Matchmaker dress inspired by the Sui Dynasty took a long time. It included a “cheat dress” so that the form-fitting ensemble would work during the action scene while still appearing shapely. The dress was created out of 12 meters of beautifully hand-embroidered fabric, featuring images of butterflies, magnolias, and a phoenix. Disney flew several creatives and Youtubers to New Zealand to give a behind-the-scenes tour of the making of Mulan. Diageler revealed to the tour that this ensemble took two weeks to create, and even the underdress and shoes were embroidered. 

When asked what her favorite costume was, Daigeler explained that it was the ensemble Mulan wears when she takes her father’s sword. She needed to get this costume right as the scene is emotional for Mulan and needed to convey the shift in who she is after the Matchmaker disaster. “In costume design, it’s often easier to the big costumes because you can live out your fantasy, you can be loud, you can be crazy, but trying to make the quiet costumes right… that’s difficult.”  

The shape-shifting witch, Xianniang’s costume, was the most elaborate. Originally the costume had been designed in a more ethereal direction using softer fabrics. Eventually, a member of the visual effect team suggested using the sleeves as weapons. This suggestion allowed Daigeler to redesign the costume, bringing to life this inspired vision. Her first concern was that Mulan and the Witch would have armor. However, that concern quickly dissipated when the symbolism became more apparent. Mulan was able to shed the armor, removing the deceit that was poisoning her Chi. This was something that Xianniang could never do. As the design changed, the earth and grounded colors did not. The hand-stitched costume still gave an organic feel while still connecting with the shape-shifting hawk.  

The beautifully intricate costumes with their detailed embroidery and textiles are a true testament to costume designer Bina Daigeler’s talent. Mulan was the biggest project she has worked on over her 36-year career as a designer. Along with her team making the court, imperial ladies, villagers, and background all in their workroom and she was more than ready for the task and truly deserved all the nominations for her stunning work in this film.

“The Flower that Blooms in Adversity is the Most Rare and Beautiful of All.”

The Emplorer – Mulan Animation Film 

On Behalf of The Art of Costume – Congratulations to Bina Diageler and her costume team

Costume Designer – Bina Diageler

Director – Niki Caro

Assistant Costume Designers – Daniela Backes, Liz McGregor 

Illustrators – Anna Haigh, Warren Holders, Luke Hollis and Long Ouyang 

Supervisor – Jenny Rushton, Bettina Seifert 

To Watch the Tour of Backstage of Mulan and the Costume Workroom

April – Coolirpa (Pictures as provided above – Costume Department behind the Scenes 6:45)

Jasmin – Jazzybum (Pictures as provided above – Costume Department behind the Scenes 11:21)

A Year In Review: The Art of Costume 2020

Sarah Paulson as Mildred Ratched – Ratched. Costume Design by Lou Eyrich and Rebecca Guzzi. Credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX

In the words of one of America’s great poets, Jake Tapper, 2020 was “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck”. Okay well, he might have been describing one of this year’s presidential debates, but I think Jake would agree that this quote still holds.

2020 was awful, we can all pretty much agree on that. However, The Art of Costume team is hoping to start the new year with some positive reflections, and hopeful intentions for 2021. While we didn’t see as many new films, shows, or theatre productions this year… there were still plenty of great costume moments to appreciate. I gathered some members of The Art of Costume team to take a look back with me, and prepare to leave this year behind us. Enjoy!

Q: What was your favorite Costume Moment of the Year ?

Elizabeth Glass: Unorthodox. While not the most flashy or technically astounding, the costumes of Unorthodox are truly apart of the story. They help tell the story of Esty’s (played by Shira Haas) strict Hasidic Jewish upbringing where clothes have both religious and social significance to her escape to Germany where her wardrobe starts to represent who she wants to be. From behind to end they telling and supporting her story.

Mariana Sandoval: Hamilton. The ensemble singing and dancing hip hop in those stunning costumes. I just couldn’t believe what I was watching!!

Candice Silva: The entire cast of Jingle Jangle and the metallic pleated Givenchy dress worn by Nicole Kidman in first episode of The Undoing.

Csilla Szlovák: My favorite costume moment of the year was from probably either The Umbrella Academy’s second season, specifically anything that The Handler (played by Kate Walsh) wore, or from The Queen’s Gambit. They brought so much beauty to this boring, but also exhausting year and I couldn’t be more thankful for them.

Spencer Williams: The series finale of Schitt’s Creek was incredible, and I find myself thinking about it all of the time. Specifically, Moira Rose’s (played by Catherine O’Hara) clergy officiant costume. Simply the best! I also am still reeling over Mildred Ratched’s (played by Sarah Paulson) entire wardrobe from the Netflix show, Ratched. I am obsessed!

(From L to R) Unorthodox – Costume Designer, Justine Seymour. Hamilton – Costume Designer, Paul Tazewell. The Undoing – Costume Designer, Signe Sejlund. The Umbrella Academy – Christopher Hargadon. Schitt’s Creek – Costume Designer, Debra Hanson.

Q: What costumes are you looking forward to seeing in 2021 ?

Elizabeth Glass: Dune – I’m really looking forward to the costumes for the new Dune. As a massive sci-fi fan I’m always interested to see how the designer will interpret styles and pieces that don’t exist in the real world.

Mariana Sandoval: Disney’s Cruella with Emma Stone.

Candice Silva: Cobra Kai, Never Have I Ever Season 2 (CD Salvador Perez), Ryan Murphy’s Halston mini-series CD – Jeriana San Juan and The Discovery of Witches Season 2

Csilla Szlovák: I am extremely excited to see the new season of Euphoria and what the costumes will look like in the 2021 game Hogwarts Legacy. And also in general, I can’t wait to go to the theatre in the new year.

Spencer Williams: There are a few things coming out this year I am excited about! In terms of film, I am looking forward to Coming 2 America as well as the exciting new Marvel film, Eternals. I am also excited to see the costumes for WandaVision, and pretty much any Marvel or Star Wars universe show to hit Disney + this year. Oh, and the new American Horror Stories series!

(From L to R) Dune – Costume Designer, Jacqueline West. Cruella – Costume Designer, Jenny Beavan. Never Have I Ever – Costume Designer, Salvador Perez. Euphoria – Heidi Bivens. WandaVision – Costume Designer, Mayes C. Rubeo.

Q: What is your New Year’s Resolution ?

Elizabeth Glass: Rewatch tv shows less, and watch more movies!

Mariana Sandoval: I want to make the best of what 2020 taught me: don’t take anything for granted, embrace every single opportunity and create my own path.

Candice Silva: To complete all the sewing projects I have on my list, specifically the ones for Costume College’s annual conference. Fingers crossed the 2021 event isn’t canceled!

Csilla Szlovák: My new year’s resolution is just to take it easy, we made it through this dumpster fire of a year, let’s not make 2021 worse than that.

Spencer Williams: This year I want to take the time to reconnect myself with my passions. I hope to take The Art of Costume to new exciting heights this year! We have so many things we want to do this year. I want to learn a new talent this year, recently I’ve been exploring digital painting as well as DJing. Finally, I want to rid myself of “couch potato guilt”. There are a lot of good shows and films out there right now, and coming in the future! I’ll watch it all and no one is going to make me feel guilty about it!

I want to end this article by giving the biggest thank you to all of the fabulous members of The Art of Costume team. The best thing to come out of this year, was getting to know each of you. I am so lucky, and eternally grateful for our new found friendships.

On behalf of the entire team, I would also like to thank YOU, the readers who visited us throughout the year. We are just getting started here at The Art of Costume, with a lot of exciting things in store for 2021! Happy New Year’s everyone!

Alright 2020, its officially that time… for you… to Sashay Away!

20 Year Whobilation: The Costumes of Whoville

Photo via IMBD How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It feels like only yesterday that Universal Pictures, Director Ron Howard and Costume Designer Rita Ryack grew our hearts two sizes with the movie release of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It has been twenty years since the iconic Whoville was brought to life through our screens giving insight into the Grinch’s past. We have come a long way since the 1957 children’s book by Dr. Suess  (Theodor Suess Geisel) first depicted the iconic character in its black and white, pink-eyed version. It was only after the 1966  carton movie gave the Grinch a makeover resulting in the classic story and visual we have all come to know and love.  Costume Designer, Rita Ryack, took the transformation another step further bringing the animated visuals to life with her designs in the 2000 theatrical release.

Images from IMBD: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ryack “chose a 1950s aesthetic for the film’s 450 costumes, consulting vintage cookbooks for ideas for the many food-inspired outfits and scouring flea markets and antique shops for supplies.” She was able to capture the bottom-heavy pear-shaped Whoville residents with padding resulting in wide lower extremities to give the triangular appearance.  Every detail was considered and chosen wisely from the Seussical feel of the buttons to the handmade embellishments. Many of the child-like costume embellishments were in fact homemade by tiny fingers. Ryack enlisted the help of second-graders from Ventura County Brookside Elementary School to ensure that the Whobilation costumes looked as if they were created by the Whos themselves in annual preparations for their Christmas celebration. The Scandinavian influenced knitwear was created by designers, Maria Ficalora and Susanne Cousins. They produced 250 hand-knitted pieces in just 120 days, including eight identical red-striped sweaters for Jim Carrey.

Images from Left to Right obtained from Rita Ryack’s Facebooks page – Left: “Coast of Many Toys” Center “Snowman” Right: The “Biddies” cookies and candied fruit slices – all three fabricated by Michael Curry, Photos by Ron Batzdorf on the Universal Lot

We can’t write about How the Grinch Stole Christmas without mentioning Jim Carrey’s over the top performance perfection.  However, the road to achieving the character was brutal. Carrey describes the makeup process as “being buried alive” with many articles stating that a CIA operative was brought in to teach the art of overcoming torture to help develop coping mechanisms to deal with the agony. Director, Ron Howard came to set early one day and spent hours being made up into the full Grinch ensemble as a show of solidarity and appreciation for Carrey the process he had to endure daily during production. The excruciating 8 hours of the hair and makeup process was eventually streamlined down to three hours. All the hard work from the crew and cast was worth it as Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas won for Best Makeup (Rick Baker, Gail Ryan) and was nominated for Costume Design and Art Direction.

Images from Rita Ryack’s Facebooks page -Photos by Ron Batzdorf on the Universal Lot

Carrey brought Ryack’s designs to life with his depiction of the Grinch. The ensemble was created by green dyed Yak Fur that was individually sewn onto a spandex suit.  The designs that are worn over the Yak Suit aid in depicting the character’s essence.  The lederhosen would not have been complete without the Suessical embroidery.  The specific details on all of the costumes from the ensemble to background cast are not easy to discern on screen. It is almost a guarantee that each time you re-watch the movie, you will find something in the costumes that were missed the first twenty plus times.

Images from Rita Ryack’s Facebooks page – Photos by Ron Batzdorf on the Universal Lot – Leiderhosen build by David Ridge. Right Photo – Jim Carrey posing with Baker

Many things need to be considered when designing a costume, one specific consideration is how the garment needs to move. Not only did Ryack’s costumes move in the zany whimsical Who manner that many attributed to those characters, but the production also made sure that many of the background actors wearing those stylized costumes were Cirque du Soliel performers who were able to emulate the wacky Whoville way of life.  To achieve the organized chaos, spirit and embody the characters of Whoville, the entire cast, even those actors who had an acrobatic background,  had to attend “Who School” as seen in this Youtube video.

The movie is a family affair with Ron Howard’s brother, Clint Howard as the Mayor’s assistant his father, Rance Howard as the Elderly timekeeper, and his daughter along with Christine Baranski’s daughter was cast to play Who extras. Baranski told South Jersey.com  that spending time with her daughter, Lily, in the film were fond memories, especially the 4 am makeup calls.

Photos taken from the Movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Images from Rita Ryack’s Facebooks page – Photos by Ron Batzdorf on the Universal Lot – Left: Ms Rue Who, Center: Mailman’s uniform built by Nestor at Western Costume – Right: Candy Canes built by Muto Little

From the Candy Cane Unitards, Snowman Headpieces, Table Cloth, and utensil ponchos just to name a who-bit, Ryack had an abundance of imagination and her amazing talent can be seen from Who to Who in the over 450 costumes created for the movie.

Fun Facts about the Grinch

  • Jack Nicholson and Eddie Murphy were considered for the Big Green Guy but Jim Carrey won the role and our hearts.
  • Tim Burton almost directed the movie but had a conflict and it was serendipitous that  Ron Howard would obtain the role.
  • Sir Anthony Hopkins Narrated the film and completed the task in one day.
  • Costume Designer Rita Ryack graduated from Yale and worked in Animation before making the switch to Costume Design.

Photo from the Movie – How the Grinch Stole Christmas, captured to feature the donut scarf.

While timeless is not usually a word associated with whimsy and over the top costumes, that is exactly what Costume Designer Rita Ryack created. The costumes have been enjoyed each holiday season by different generations each year. Many recreate the icon images of How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Halloween as well.

Did you know that there was a Creepy Halloween Grinch Cartoon from 1977 titled “Halloween Is Grinch Night” that won an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program? It is also referred to as “Grinch Night”. You can view it below.

What is your favorite costume from How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

From all of us at The Art of Costume – MERRY GRINCHMAS!

How Did Dolly Parton Save Christmas?

Images within this article are Courtesy of Netflix – Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square

How Did Dolly Parton Save Christmas?

 Was it due to her 1 million dollar donation towards Coronavirus Vaccine Research? No, but that certainly has helped with the advancements and the much needed hope during our global pandemic.

Was it due to the wonderful work completed by her literary program, Imagination Library, launched in 1995 and the more than 100 million children’s books that have been donated making it one of the largest literary programs globally? No, but you can learn more about the program on their website here and watch the 2020 documentary about the program on Youtube.

Was it because she released, “A Holly Dolly Christmas”, her first Christmas Album in over 30 years? No, but it has certainly helped bring the joy to the holidays after a dumpster fire of a year.

Was it because she released her book “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics”? No, but her new book  is the perfect Holiday Gift for Dolly Fans, told in her own words covering the songs that defined her indescribable life and career, filled with photos, stories and memories . It was also not the Dolly Parton Collection on Williams Sonoma.  While the above are just a few of the reasons to love Dolly Parton and the positivity that she radiates, they are not what I am referring to when I write that she has saved Christmas in 2020.

“Deck the Halls with joys of Dolly in this musically entertaining family treat.”

Jackie K. Cooper – Rotten Tomatoes

I am referring to how Dolly Parton produced, wrote 14 new original songs and starred in the Holiday Netflix film Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square where her character literally helps save Christmas. In this loosely based musical adaption of Dickens A Christmas Carol, we follow a Grinch-like Regina Fuller (played by The Good Wife’s  Christine Baranski) as she evicts the residents in the small Middle American town, Fullerville, so the land can be sold to a mall conglomerate. Baranski is no stranger to Holiday films as she had starred in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Bad Moms Christmas and the Lifetime movie Recipe for a Perfect Christmas.

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square was filmed in the 2019 hot Atlanta Summer which is not uncommon for productions of made for TV Holiday movies. While many may not realize, it is not an easy task to outfit an entire cast in winterwear during the during the summer as most stores do not have inventory of fall or winter clothing available. However, Costume Designer, Provi Fulp, proved that she was up to the task designing the costumes for the cast perfectly depicting the winter middle America small town residents, as well  as, peppering the glitz and sparkle of Dolly that we have all grown to love. This movie reminds us of the reason for the holiday by  tugging on the heart strings of the audience touching on emotional deep themes, dazzling with numerous choreographed musical numbers, giving a few twists and turns to bring Regina to redemption and receive forgiveness for those she had wronged.

Dolly Parton’s costumes were designed by her Creative Director, Steve Summers. He is the talented man behind the legend, having worked with Parton for over 29 years designing her iconic wardrobe, album covers and all things creative including stage sets of Parton’s brand. His career started in 1991 when he auditioned at her theme park Dollywood as a singer and dancer during his last semester of college. While at Dollywood, Summers was involved in set  and costume design with his hard work and  talent catching the eye of the Dolly Parton herself. Parton sees the potential in those she brings onto her team wanting to invest, cultivate and help with realizing their full potential. She did just that with Summers, sending him to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her investment paid off as he has been responsible for designing or cultivating from other designers the clothes for the most recognizable and down to earth woman. You can read more about Steve Summers and his journey with Dolly Parton here.

Summer’s costumes in Christmas on the Square are perfection. They prove that he is clearly the right man to be her Creative Director. We start the movie off with the Angel singing on the street as a homeless woman. While the down trot-in beggar costume is a far cry from the sparkle and glamour we are used to seeing Parton wear, it still gives off Dolly vibes with the shredded textured grey scarf, loose feathers in the cuff and holes in the matching grey gloves and jacket. While it becomes apparent that the request for change is not literal in the monetary sense but instead the change requested is from deep within the views and actions of those to whom she is speaking. Dolly’s personal humanity and grace shines throughout the scene.

Her sassy angel costumes in the movie are all white, representing purity, faith and goodwill. However, it wouldn’t be a Dolly Parton Costume without glitz and shine. Summer design and costume choices ensured that while Parton is acting and playing a part in this movie, the costumes are everything we have come to love and expect from the icon, the 10-inch matching heels, crystal fingerless gloves, jewelry, star shaped ring and feathers. There was no detailed left out or rhine-STONE unturned including the sparkles added to her casual white jeans giving a hint of glint while on the other side of the spectrum, the fabulous and over top Finale Angel wing topper ball gown.

“I hope if I have another hallucination it won’t be wearing rhinestones”

Christine baranski as Regina Fuller

“…the higher the hair, the closer to the North Pole!”

While designing the movie, Costume Designer, Provi Fulp also collaborated with Steve Summers to ensure Dolly inspired looks and the cast were cohesive. Specifically in the costume of the character Felicity Sorenson, Regina Fuller’s assistant played by Jeanine Mason and her close relationship to the angel, Dolly Parton. The preppy, warm sweet innocent looks of Felicity shines through the screen as she apologizes to the residents while doing Regina’s bidding. Fulp stated to Refinery 29 that she selected J.Crew pieces to convey a warm appealing character and topped them off with  the Dolly-esque sparkle on the neckline. My favorite Felicity costume piece is, a blink and you may miss it, shinning crystal angel wing hair clip. The final ensemble of Felicity’s was a collaboration between Fulp, Summers and others of Dolly’s team. With their choice on using Atlanta Designer, Maria Harper Designs and her tulle dress made the entire scene. I imagine it would be easy to get lost sitting next to Dolly’s sparkling persona, the costume choice had to be able to stand on its own and wow while still complimenting the stunning Parton and radiate Jeanine Mason’s beautiful features. Their choice to use Harper’s design elevated the character and perfectly complimented Dolly’s final look. The stunning tulle dress had over 1,200 Swarovski crystals.

Fulp is no stranger to dressing characters that are powerful business woman, her Costume Design work on the tv show Being Mary Jane certainly proved that. The evolution of Regina’s costume in Christmas on the Square is one of the many reasons why Fulp was the perfect choice for Costume Designer in this movie. Regina’s character starts off in dark colored tailored suits and coats with sharp lines evoking a non-emotional no-nonsense business woman. This look is in stark contrast to the casual bright wardrobe of the town’s residents. As Regina starts processing her teenage trauma and reasons for hating/wanting to leave the town, her wardrobe become lighter and softer with the transition coming to a close as she wears a fitted white Alexander McQueen dress during Christmas Ever Service asking for forgiveness and redemption.

Fulp did a wonderful job with costuming the Pastor’s wife, Jenna Hathaway played by Mary Lane Haskell. Ensuring that her clothes fit and complimented her figure noting to Refinery29 that it was important to represent tailored curvy girls in a fashion forward and well put together way. While this isn’t the first Dolly Parton movie that Haskell has been a part of, it the first time singing with the legend on camera. (Haskell has appeared in Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love and in the episode Down from Dover in Heartstrings.)

The  cast was dressed in a lot of knits and texture that perfectly complimented a good intentioned middle America small town with a southern feel as an ode to Dolly Parton’s roots. Fulp’s expert work in the finale gave a commanding scene that evoked Christmas without over powering it. The color and costume choices gave Christmas vibes while still sprinkling in Dolly. A favorite costume would have to be Margeline, the feisty best friend of Regina and Salon owner, played by Jenifer Lewis. Her costume of geometric black and white with red pants and accents is not your typical Christmas movie attire but it truly embodies the character perfectly down the jewelry! I truly loved all of the costumes for the character, Margeline.

Another favorite was the knit cream sweater worn by Violet, played by Selah Kimbro Jones in the child bartender scene and song Life is not a Fairytale. This truly was my favorite scene. Selah Kimbro Jones and her sweet costumes were a delight to watch on the screen. This particular scene had humor, melody and then a gut wrenching reality check for the character Regina.

This movie was originally set to air last Christmas but thought to be too soon after the release of Dolly Parton’s Heartstings. The choice to delay release may be though of as kismet. The Netflix movie is as heartwarming as Dolly Parton with the message portraying exactly what everyone may need as we get closer everyday to putting a close to the 2020 year.

“Get out there and light your light!”

Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square is now available to stream on Netflix!

Dolly Parton – IG: @dollyparton

Costume Designer – Provi Fulp – IG: @provifulp

Steven Summers – Creative Director for Dolly Parton – IG: @stevenkentsummers

Christine Branski – Regina Fuller – IG: @christinebaranski_

Jennifer Lewis – Margeline -IG: @jeniferlewisforreal

Jeanine Mason – Felicity Sorenson – IG: @itsjeaninemason

Selah Kimbro Jones – Violet – IG: @selahkjones

Mary Lane Haskell – Jenna Hathaway – IG: @marylanehaskell

Images within this article are Courtesy of Netflix – Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square

Cringe-Worthy Costumes From Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

For fans of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, is it really Halloween if you haven’t re-watched Season 4 Episode 2, I am Ashamed? Or at a minimum watched the song, The Cringe on Youtube, only to find yourself spiraling down a black hole binging every song all the whilst vowing to re-watch Season 1-4?

Although the last episode aired in April 2019, the series will continue to be a strong fan favorite due to the immense talent from content to costumes. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the love child of dynamic duo Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna with the Costumes Designed by Melina Root. While many of Root’s designs on show are certainly fodder for Halloween Costumes, Episode 2 of Season 4 is where the bare bones truth is apparent, everyone else’s skeleton costumes will forever appear basic in comparison.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a Romantic Musical Comedy about the life of Rebecca Bunch (played brilliantly by Rachel Bloom). Rebecca decides to leave her prestigious job at a New York law firm after a chance encounter with Josh Chan, her teenage summer camp boyfriend of two months. Bunch impulsively decides to coincidently relocate to sunny West Covina, California to start a new life, it just so happens that it is also where Josh lives.

In the Episode, I am Ashamed,  we are given Office Antics, Seayonce shenanigans, Black Market Breast Milk and the best Anthem giving insight to what truly keeps everyone awake at night.

It is hard to articulate how ingenious the show and costumes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend truly are. Root’s expert artistry can not only be appreciated in the song specific costumes that ranged from wacky, obscure, creative, and period themed but also the everyday contemporary clothing worn by the cast members. Blending her theatre and television Design backgrounds, two time Emmy Award-winning Costume Designer, Melina Root found a realistic way to translate the Zanny Costume Ideas into reality.

The attention to detail by Root and her team in The Cringe‘s skeleton costumes is perfection. It will continue to be everyone’s inspiration for future skeleton design, cosplay, and Halloween creations.  The bodices not only contain the same bone print as the matching the leggings but the black tulle at the bust flows seamlessly with the ripped underskirts and the detailing behind the skulls in the hoop skirt. The Female look is finished off with the skeleton gloves, jewelry, and hair clip. Although you can only see the back for less than a split second it too includes the bone print, Root’s design covering every minor detail.  The tie & suit worn by the security guard, played by Patton Oswald is as engaging as the dancing women beside him. Root has given new meaning to the term cringe-worthy.

This episode also showcases Root’s creativity in the everyday Halloween costumes the characters wear. A few highlights include Snailor Swift, All the Sexy Things (worn all together), Katy Bear-y, Thomas Jefferson, Vampire, Baby Detective and Its all Peachy. 

The release of the series on Netflix has indoctrinated new fans into the fold, re-igniting the love for the series and clever and innovative costumes.

If you would like to interact with fans who love the show, then the Facebook Group Crazy Ex-girlfriend Fans is the place. It is a mixture of original and new fans discussing, dissecting, and professing obsession for the entire series, Especially the costumes. There is even a bracket created in October for members to vote for their favorite Costume Design in a Musical Number. With the poll closing at the beginning of November, I am excited to find out which costume comes out on top.

If you have not watched the show then I would strongly suggest not mentioning that in the vicinity of anyone who has. If you do, it is almost certain that they will suck you into the vortex by playing numerous song videos until you swear to watch an episode. If you don’t believe me, just ask my co-workers. Even my Broadway obsessed, 11 year old, daughter is a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend superfan in the making. Despite her numerous pleas,  she loves the show while never having watched an episode (due to the mature content and themes). She has, however, watched several of the songs from the series and has insisted that we recreate Melinda Root’s skeleton costumes for next year’s Halloween.

The Art of Television Costume Design at FIDM in October 2019 via Melina Roots Instagram (Top) Behind the seams (below)

An entire series could be written about the show and its costumes but I will leave you with Melina Root’s brilliant design for the Sexy Cactus. While it does not appear in the same episode, it certainly deserves an honorable mention as it is the intro to the song Love Kernels. Congratulations to Rachel Bloom who gave birth during the Pandemic. We hope your little one is giving you many Love Kernels, as the song can also be an apt description for life with an infant.

If you can’t get enough of the show, the cast reunited via Zoom in July and September for Stars in the House. (Part 1 and Part 2)

Originally airing on CW. Seasons 1-4 now streaming on Netflix.

Costume Designer
Melina Root
IG – @melinarootcostumedesigner

Rebecca Bunch / Writer / Producer / Co-Creator
Rachel Bloom
IG – @racheldoesstuff

Writer / Producer / Director / Co-Creator
Aline Brosh Mckenna
IG – @abmck

Heather Davis
Vella Lovell
IG – @vellalovell

Paula Proctor
Donna Lynne Champlin
IG – @donna_lynne_champlin

J. Castleman – Security Guard
Patton Oswald
IG – @pattonoswalt

Witches are REAL, REAL Fashionable

Move over Sanderson Sisters, there is a new coven in town!

While there is much debate about the 2020 remake of Roald Dahl’s The Witches and the revamp of this nostalgic childhood classic, the costumes in the newly released movie are not one of them. Costume Designer, Joanna Johnston has certainly raised the bar for all witch couture. Given the past working relationship on previous films between Joanna Johnston and director, Robert Zemeckis it appears kismet that they would come together to give a facelift to the imagery of the 1990 occult film.

The 2020 film takes place in 1968 as Charlie (Jahzir Bruno) is sent to his Grandmother’s home in Alabama following the death of his parents. His Grandmother, Agatha (Octavia Spencer) is a tough woman with a big heart who has a past childhood trauma regarding witches. When it is realized that there is a witch in their small poor town, they check into an expensive hotel near the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, the hotel is riddled with witches as they are attending a farce convention held by the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway) to disperse the potion that will turn all of the world’s children into mice. Chaos ensues as Charlie inadvertently realizes their plan, is turned into a mouse, and plots to save the world from the evildoers.

Johnston’s take on the 1960’s era with her fabric patterns, silhouettes, colors, and details bring the story to life and define the characters splendidly.

As Agatha recants what she has learned about witches to date, it is noted that they prey on the lower-income communities where the parents are less likely to make a lot of noise or be heard in their plight regarding missing children. The costumes that adorn the witches evoke strong imagery that gives subtext to “clothing matters.” Children are more apt to accept candy from a mesmerizing affluent woman that oozes style than a common green-faced, pointy-nosed black hat-wearing hag or these demons in their true form that we see unveiled as the High Grand Witch removes her human décor.

The designs & choices for Agatha convey a woman with a strong sense of self, meticulous in the way that she presents herself to the world, aware of the judgmental eyes of the time period. There is a flawless blending of Agatha having a sense of pride in being presentable as well the chameleon-like ability to blend into the background if warranted. Through the color palette and floral prints of her clothing along with the pairing of earrings, hats, and brooches, it is clear that her character has a loving warmth without losing the ability to become a formidable force as needed. This is in stark contrast to the witches, whose wardrobe’s prints and silhouettes are more linear, bold, and stand out from a crowd.

Johnston’s stunning work in this film creates envy and lust over the witches’ wardrobe that may have some viewers, albeit brief, conflicted on who truly is the protagonist of the story.

Since the trailer premiered, fans of The Devil Wears Prada have been reeling over Anne Hathaway being reunited with Stanley Tucci for this film. The elation only continued to fester in anticipation as it was apparent that the roles had been reversed. Stanley Tucci, the hotel manager is no match for the steamrolling fashionista High Grand Witch, Anne Hathaway.

The HGW (High Grand Witch) first graces the screen with her impeccably dressed flange of cohorts, the monochromatic look commanding military-esque power. We see a slightly softer side of HGW as she relaxes in her suite letting her hair down (or off- so to speak) still radiating style in her tall pink turban and old Hollywood Glamour negligee, matching gloves and shoes. 

The pique of transformation is revealed when her innocent pink cape with a bow is removed to reveal a more sinister side as she leads the convention with her fellow witches. The long form-fitting black gown is accessorized with a real gold snake that wraps around her neck to the floor giving way to the long pointed heels with snake print and gold accent with no small detail left unnoticed.

Johnston’s design of the pink web dress is a favorite design from the movie, with the pleated flared sleeves to the back/ pink printed pattern that is reminiscent of webbing, without being on the nose. The ombre gloves and cold steel jewelry finish off the look to perfection as elements of witchery are slowly indoctrinated into the design.

The HGW fashion evolution brings us from softer hair, lighter colors to high wig styling, darker prints/colors, and more angular silhouettes that we resonate with evil witches. In the dinner that starts the Rat-fication, we see the HWG in a black ensemble, her necklace giving Victorian Goth Vibes, the collar and belt paying homage to Disney’s Evil Queen while still staying true to Johnson’s vision, her design and voice echoing throughout the scenes.

While there will continue to be passionate opinions on the merit of the book versus the two film adaptations, one thing is certain, Joanna Johnston has wickedly left her mark with her undeniable costumes in this film.

Are you uncertain if you have a witch in your midst, especially when they may not be as remarkably dressed and awe-inspiring as those designed by Joanna Johnston? Stay safe and go through the checklist:

Are they wearing gloves?
Witches wear gloves to cover their claws since they do not have hands like you or I.
Are they wearing a wig? Witches are bald and wear wigs or hats to cover their heads and the wig rash they experience.
Are they wearing pointed shoes? Witches do not have toes and/or can have one talon.

If you answered yes, then you may have encountered a witch? Do not under any circumstance accept any food, especially candy, from them.

You can view The Witches on HBO Max, streaming now.

Costume Designer
Joanna Johnston

IG – @joannajohnston_design

The Witches Movie
IG – @witchesmovie

Octavia Spenser

IG – @Octaviaspenser

High Grand Witch
Anne Hathaway

IG – @annehathaway

Mr. Stringer / Hotel Manager
Stanley Tucci

IG – @stanleytucci

MADE LIKE MAISEL: Admiring The Marvelous Costumes One Stitch at a Time

Congratulations to the cast and crew of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on their 20 Emmy nominations. Since the highly anticipated first episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in the Spring of 2017, the Amazon Prime Original series has continued to capture the viewers with the artistry of costume designer, Donna Zakowska’s late 1950s and early 1960s designs.

Photo by Morgan Donner

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a witty period comedy-drama following the life of Miriam “Midge” Maisel. “In 1958 New York, Midge Maisel’s life is on track – husband, kids, and elegant Yom Kippur dinners in their Upper West Side apartment. But when her life takes a surprising turn, she has to quickly decide what she’s good at – and going from housewife to stand-up comic is a wild choice to everyone but her.” (Amazon Prime)

Zakowska and her team have successfully continued season after season to immerse the viewers in the bygone era where men were dapper and women wore feminine silhouettes that were modest yet form-fitting, demure but celebrated a woman’s figure.

The show’s costumes send the fans into a nostalgic world of yesteryear where Zakowska’s use of bold colors, draping, prints, patterns and beautifully curated matching hats and accessories have even the most novice sewer wishing to recreate the genius that appears on the screen.

Each stitch of a costume, cosplay, history bounding outfit, or exact replica created by the online sewing community is a virtual fan letter to the show’s costume designer. If Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Donna Zakowska and her costume department have an abundance of online adulation from the fans that only continues to grow.

To write that the show resonates with those who watch would be an understatement, one example is the Facebook group WeSewRetro: Sewing Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that was created specifically for those inspired to sew outfits from the Amazon Prime show. It is a supportive group where members discuss the Maisel outfits they are working on, share resources on patterns/techniques, and offer advice to those in need. The group pays homage to the costumes by sharing their Maisel exact replicated looks or an inspired version with each member posting their pictures with pride and the community providing encouragement, help, and tips along the way.

Diane Presley is a member of that Facebook Group who created a self-imposed Maisel-a-Month challenge on Instagram that was featured in The Vintage Women Magazine.  Her challenge was to create a new Maisel inspired garment per month. Presley stated in the article, “This project also started as a way to be stylish as Midge without breaking the bank. …Not all outfits are meant to be exact copies, but rather an inspired version of the original. I hope to show others that these outfits are totally achievable for anyone!” You can follow her journey @shimmyshimmysewsewbog or participate in the challenge using #maiselamonth

Another Instagram challenge inspired by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is by Sam Green @Minimaedelcreates. She was inspired while watching the show with her husband. She knew the comments of “Woah look at that dress” and “Look at that coat!” would be better appreciated within the sewing community than with her husband who didn’t quite extend the same level of admiration and excitement over every slightest detail noticed on Zakowska’s designs. This is where the idea of the challenge #madelikemaisel was created, recreating a favorite look from the show. While the second year of the challenge was slightly different than the first, those who participated said that it was just what they needed during the chaos of COVID and quarantine. This year’s winner was Tricia from @creative.costume.academy and second place was Diane Presley (noted above) with the previous winners as judges.

Tricia Camacho  is the owner of Creative Costume Academy where she virtually helps creatives and stitchers learn the easy basic pattern principles so that they can start making their own designs. Tricia, previously lived in Las Vegas Nevada, where she had her own costume build shop, specializing in pattern making and difficult builds for acrobatic performers. She has worked on numerous large productions while also creating several patterns making workshops for those interested in learning, including a class on her Maisel make.

Fans who have created costumes replicating the designs by Donna Zakowska, use a myriad of ways to accurately portray their envisioned pieces by finding similar new or vintage patterns, altering patterns they have on hand, or drafting their own. Similar to an archaeologist at a dig site, those seeking to recreate the Marvelous designs will watch the show frame by frame, screenshot the images and note every seam-line, intricate detail, and angle available to assist them in the process. There are many sources online to help with recreating a Maisel inspired garment. Within the Costuming Youtube Community, also referred to as Costube, there are many videos to watch which include historical costuming, embroidery, millinery, and sewing for all levels interested. If you don’t know where to begin or who to follow on Youtube, you can go to @costubeguide on Instagram to see upcoming video releases. However, there are also specific videos on the making of costumes inspired by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Morgan Donner is one such Costuber. You can view her four sewing parties “dress diary” videos related to the making of her Maisel Red Evening Gown Dress or read about her journey and the costumes that were contenders before deciding on the recreation of the iconic red dress at  MorganDonner.com.

Even the moderator of the WeSewRetro: Sewing Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Shilyn Joy, has several videos on her Youtube channel chronicling all of her Maisel makes in a series posted on the 15th “middle” aka Midge-le of the month.

The viewers are not the only ones who recognize the excellence of Zakowska’s talent. She was recognized by her peers throughout the shows run, winning the Costume Designer’s Guild Award for period television costume the last two years. She won the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Period Costume for the episode “We’re Going To The Catskills!”, nominated in 2018 and again in 2020. In December of 2019, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History acquired two of the costumes for their national entertainment collection which include the blue peignoir nightgown with pink housecoat from the pilot episode as well as the black satin cocktail dress with bows on the straps worn during her comedy performance on the season 1 finale.

If these costumes have reignited your creative side, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel should be on your quarantine re-watch list. It is a guarantee that you may have missed many things when you originally binged the season. It is not always apparent the magnitude of the costumes any Wardrobe Department has to design, shop, curate, and dress for not only the principal characters but also the extras.  Executive Producer, Dan Palladino, and Creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, stated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, that on one day of shooting last year there were 850 extras in one airport hanger. The link to the article was posted in the Facebook Group Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and a few of the extras that were there on that specific day recalled filming and wearing the costumes fondly, even in the excessive heat.

However, if you haven’t watched the show, what have you been waiting for? Don’t fret, there is a slight twinge of jealousy from those who are already addicted knowing the butterflies you will feel when you get to fall in love with the costumes for the very first time.

Congratulations to Donna Zakowska and her hardworking team on the well deserved Emmy nomination for 2020 Best Outstanding Period Costumes.

Follow Donna Zakowska on Instagram @dzakowska

Follow The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Instagram @Maiseltv

The Rise and Fall of Blodreina: Octavia’s Redemption as told through her Costumes

As we wait in high anticipation for  The 100’s series finale on Sept. 30, 2020, let’s take a look at the rise and fall of Blodreina and Octavia’s redemption through the 7 Seasons of the character’s costumes. The several costume designers who have worked on the series throughout the years, worked flawlessly to cohesively blend and build upon the previous designer’s work. 

Filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia,  The 100, is an Action – Drama Dystopian Post-apocalyptic series based almost  100 years in the future that initially follows a group of one-hundred juvenile detainees as they are sent to Earth from the space station, The Ark, to test if the planet is inhabitable after a nuclear apocalypse.  

A lot of the meticulous and intricate detailing and distressing on the costumes may be missed at first glance when the viewers are entranced in the storyline, fast action-packed sequences and occasional dark grime lighting. Even if the specific details on the costumes may initially be missed when they first appear on the screen, they still evoke subconscious emotions that give information about the character and their transformations. 

Costume Designer, Katia Stano, and her team’s work were outstanding in Seasons  1 and 2. They set the tone and laid the foundation of Octavia Blake and captured her internal strength to endure. With the show’s 100 year jump into the future, Stano’s decision not to design futuristic clothing but instead create garments that were similar to those worn prior to the apocalypse helped the narrative and storyline. 

Octavia Blake, played by Marie Avgeropoulos, was one such delinquent juvenile to descend the Ark to Earth. Her crime, being born. When we first see Octavia as she exits the ship, she is no longer the girl who was hidden under the floorboard and confined to her family’s one-room cabin for 17 years trying to escape detection against the strict one-child rule. Instead,  she becomes the first human from space to step foot on Earth after 100 years. 

Octavia graces the screen, dressed in a pair of patched up-fitted coveralls, akin to the one her mother wears in flashbacks, a distressed vest, generic automobile belt, and purple colored tank top showing the viewer a curious, strong, and spirited teen who is getting her first taste of freedom after being confined most of her life. She has come a long way from the scared little girl as represented in a flashback wearing a light-colored jumper with the silhouette and styling evoking innocence and naivety. 

Her journey continues through triumphs, turmoil, love, loss, impossible choices and the constant fight to survive while trying to save others. The show depicts time and time again that right and wrong is not always black and white, morality is shades of various greys and even people with the strongest convictions can be swayed when faced with constant changing circumstances and the company they keep. 

Octavia finds her footing, she makes new friendships, falls in love, and constantly stands up for what she believes is right. Her character makes it very clear in the first episodes regarding her brother’s protective nature, she doesn’t want to be rescued, doesn’t need saving but constantly places herself in the position to help others even to the determent of her emotional well being. 

As her confidence grows and she is immersed in the culture of the grounders (those survived on Earth), and her connection to Trikru intensifies, we see the evolution through her clothing. 

This evolution shows how integral the costume designer’s job is. At a basic level, Octavia Blake is constantly dressed in black pants, a tank top, and a black vest and/or jacket. However, it is the costume designer’s choices of embellishments, trim, distressing, mending, texture, fabric, and accessories that give insight to where the character is in her journey before any word from the script is spoken. It is a prime example that the creativity of a costume designer is integral to a story and how even if they can be described as the same garment in the most simplistic form, they are vastly different.  

 In lieu of a training montage, we see the evolution of Octavia’s journey from a feisty girl to becoming Indra’s right hand and we know her fighting skills have improved because the costumes make it very clear to the viewers that she has become and will continue to be a focused formidable warrior. Only when she sheds her jacket, ultimately taking off her armor, do viewers note that her vulnerability is sincere.

Throughout Season 2 (Costume Designer Katia Stano), we see Octavia’s attire change as her basic bomber jacket is replaced by leather jackets adorned with detailed netting on epaulets, braiding, zippers, strategic mending with different textures and aging methods applied.

Season 3 Episode 13

Season 4 Episodes , 3 and 4

Season 3, Episode 11 we see Octavia still reeling from the death of Lincoln but focused on helping as “a warrior doesn’t mourn the dead until the war is over.” In this episode, we see where Octavia receives her change of clothing as she makes a trade for it in Niylah’s outpost (the only time it is noted in the script where the clothes have come from). That wardrobe trade was designed by Allisa Swanson and we see a transformation into black pants with leather chaps, the 1980s inspired beat-up leather jacket with ribbing, asymmetrical lapel, chains attached on the upper left shoulder and a strap with bullet casings.

Various Glove details throughout the seasons

In Season 4, we are introduced to a new article of clothing designed by Swanson, the Assassin cloak. We first see this cloak in Episode 2 Heavy Lies the Crown where it has a Vigilante vibe as she is the Security detail for Skaikru ambassador, Kane. The Cloak appears again in Episode 7, Gimme Shelter, and assists when the black (acid) rain begins to fall allowing her to help Ilian find shelter in a cave.

Octavia the Assassin Cloak from Costume Designer Alissa Swanson’s website

When we see Octavia at Ilian’s family’s abandoned Farm she is dressed in farmer’s clothing, struggling to adapt. While she tries to change who she is, it is realized when she kills three hostile grounders that they will not accept her, she can’t run from her past and pretend to be someone you are not. The farmer’s attire is made of natural fibers and is a stark contrast to her normal leather fighting gear.

Season 4 Episode 10

We reconnect with Octavia, as she is chosen to represent Skaikru in the battle among the clans to fight for their people to survive the upcoming Apocalypse, Praimfaya, and take possession of the bunker. Swanson’s design of the Battle Costume armor was perfection and brought the evolution of Octavia full circle. The intricate detailing of various leathers with studs, gear chain, rings, snaps, rivets, and the bolts on the gloves made it apparent that this is what she had been training for all along. Her costume depicts a warrior but still shows the character’s spirit, determination, and humanity. When Octavia wins the conclave, she proclaims that she was fighting for everyone, not just her own people giving us a glimpse of Octavia’s compassion and understanding of all the different tribes that helped shape who she has become. As the new leader, she proclaims each clan will be allowed 100 survivors bringing the story full circle from the first episode. The last costume for Octavia designed by Swanson is a post-apocalyptic yet regal ensemble with a red accent that will continue to be built upon in Season 5 by Costume Designer Franaz Khaki-Sadigh. “From the ashes, we will rise.” – Octavia speaking to the new clan Wonkru.

Costume designer, Franaz Khaki-Sadigh seamlessly transitioned the change of costume designers in Season 5. The six years ruling the people in the bunker has hardened Octavia and the choices she has made to ensure survival clearly has chipped away at her humanity.  The Red Queen, Blodreina’s costume depicts Octavia as a powerful, strong, and unyielding leader. The red leather and silver breastplate are representative of her two halves, the girl she was and the leader who makes it clear that you are Wonkru or against Wonkru. Her costume allows us to believe that the Octavia we knew is gone and that she is capable of making horrific vengeful choices for Wonkru inside the bunker and out. Kahki-Sadigh’s clean lines and style brought an iconic image to the show.  

Season 6 begins 125 years in the future as they are awakened from their pods and embark on a new planet, Alpha, to determine its survivability. Even though it is years in the future, there is still animosity for Octavia and her actions in Season 5 causing her to be exiled from the ship. Costume designer, Sheila White brings home the redemption for Octavia through her costumes in the final two seasons of the show with her ability to blend her version of the previous costumes and add new futuristic ones. We see Octavia in a more simplified version of her previous style of all black which helps relay as the character’s struggles with who she was and who she had become.

In season 6, we see Octavia as she is wearing garments meant to camouflage, like those worn by the Children of Gabriel, as she is struggling to adapt to the new planet. As she passes through the anomaly to Skyring minutes after Diyoza, months have passed and through flashbacks in Season 7, we see that she arrives just in time to assist with the birth of Hope. While we had previously viewed a domestic, farming Octavia for a minute in Season 4, White’s design of the domestic garments that were beneath the camouflaged ones, allow us to believe that Octavia has a maternal side and the Red Queen has been replaced by Auntie O, who has been helping raise Hope for the last ten years in the Temporal Anomaly.

White’s design of the Bardo suits that the Disciples wear to pass through the anomaly wormhole to other planets is filled with tech from the future but simple and streamlined in design without gadgets cluttering the costume. The first time we see Octavia taken to Bardo as a prisoner having her memory scanned she is still in the clothing she wore on arrival, the stark black we have grown accustomed to. The next time she is a Bardo prisoner, she is wearing white. The light color, indicating that perhaps she has worked on forgiving herself and is starting to believe Levitt’s words that she is a warrior but not a bad person.

Octavia and the others, undergo training and are introduced to the Disciples’ way of life. White’s design of the grey workout training uniforms with logo allows for neutrality in trying to discern if they are training for or against the Disciples.

The last three episodes of the Season remain and we anticipate Sheila White’s designs will elevate the storyline while we wait to find out if Octavia and the other’s will be able to return from the unknown location they were sent to when it was discovered their plan was a fabrication.

Watch the final episodes on the CW Wednesday at 9/8 c or Stream on CW Thursday .

Follow The 100 on Instagram @cw_the100

Follow Marie Avgeropoulos on Instagram @marieavgeropoulos

Watch Season 1 though 6 on Netflix

Costume Designers:
Season 1 and 2 : Katia Stano

Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2: Toni Rutter

Season 3 and 4: Allisa Swanson

Season 5 : Franaz Khaki-Sadigh

Season 6 and 8 : Sheila White