Jane Holland and the Costumes of Cowboy Bebop

Today I am so excited to speak with Jane Holland, costume designer from one of my new favorite shows, Cowboy Bebop. The live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop takes place in 2071 and follows Spike Spiegel (played by John Cho) as he wanders the galaxy in search of jobs as he begins leading a group of ragtag bounty hunters to chase down criminals across the solar system while trying to earn different rewards. I speak with Jane Holland about her inspirations and the process behind translating some of our favorite characters from the anime to this live-action adaptation.


Spencer: Thank you, Jane, for joining me. I’m so excited to talk to you, I love the show. I powered through it so quickly, I just couldn’t put it down.

Jane: Thank you so much for having me. I am excited to be here!

Spencer: It’s my honor! Every time I have a new guest, I love to hear about their journey to becoming the costume designer sitting in front of me.

Jane: It makes complete sense to me now, but it wasn’t straightforward. I didn’t know that costume could be a profession so I did a science degree because my passion was with words, drama, and performance; and an English and drama degree. I was interested in storytelling; that’s always been my passion.

Through drama, I ended up on a film set, and I was watching and talking to people behind the scenes, and I just thought, that’s where I belong. I want to be doing that. So I got involved in the costume department! I’d always made costumes for production while studying drama, so it wasn’t completely unfamiliar to me. That’s when I realized that there was a job there.

I was fortunate. to have foundd myself working on Jane Campion’s film, The Piano, as a standby. I looked after Anna Paquin and Holly Hunter primarily. I kind of looked after all the women. It was just extraordinary, that film that was so pivotal in so many ways. From a design perspective, working with that costume designer, Janet Patterson, really opened my eyes to what you can do in costume as a storyteller.

So I went from there to the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney and studied costume design there. I came back and found my feet as a costume designer. Being in New Zealand, I’ve had a real diversity of projects!

Spencer: I love this story, and I feel that it is so relatable to so many in the costume field. I can hardly wait; let’s get into Cowboy Bebop. You did such a brilliant job with the show. I loved it. But have to ask, though, the anime is such a massive hit that is so beloved by fans. I have to imagine this was a bit of a daunting project to take on?

Jane: Yeah, there’s a responsibility for sure. So, going back to when I came onto the project, the enthusiasm was a bit quieter. I was aware of the fans, but I always felt my responsibility was to the anime. If I could find a connection and draw the threads and sensibility of the anime and bring that into the live-action costuming, I felt that if I could embrace the spirit of the anime, then maybe the fans would embrace the live-action costumes.

You have to be open, exploratory and you’d have to be brave. If you’re second-guessing everything and wondering what people are going to think, it can be stifling… So you have to be free! I was sort of feeling that I had a connection and that I was coming from the right place. There’s something about the anime. When I first saw it, I was blown away. The story is just so wacky, different, and surreal. I loved the cacophony of the soundtrack combined with the visuals.

My base place was asking myself the question, what was the movement of Cowboy Bebop? Bebop was about breaking free from restraint. It was about improvisation. It was about moving forwards and finding a new way. I embraced that spirit and the storytelling, which became the lens that I applied to my design process. 

Spencer: That’s beautiful. I love the dedication, and I know that your embrace of the spirit of the anime came through in the live-action series on Netflix. Now, taking it from a technical perspective, how do you approach translating characters from the animation and bringing them into the live-action. 

What sort of references besides the anime were you taking in when developing these characters? The show is really unique and stylized, and it’s set in a futuristic time period, but it’s also not futuristic at the same time.

Jane: Right, it’s very retro. We talked collectively about developing the “Bebop Mashup.” The anime has this mesh up, which, as you said, is futuristic, but then it’s retro. So it’s retro sci-fi. It’s full of these collisions; this dissonance then kind of just finds this place. So I think that that was always the challenge, was to find that place. For me, that was the Cowboy Bebop twist.

Spencer: Right, so then how did you apply that Cowboy Bebop twist to our main character, Spike Spiegel?

Jane:  I started with Spike Spiegel and the blue suit because that is sort of the heart of this story. As you begin to drill down into that suit and its relation to the anime… when you really look at it and the shape, it’s kind of unusual. There’s a single boxy lapel that sort of disappears. He’s got this extra long leg, let’s say there’s this real stylized thing about it, but what is with the sleeves rolled up?

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

I looked at Japanese designers and Japanese tailorings, such as Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons. I looked at the tailoring from these designers because there was something in Japanese sensibility, which does precisely what Cowboy Bebop does. It sort of takes something conventional, and then it just gives that bit of twist we see in Cowboy Bebop. 

I also looked at some Japanese and Korean designers who are making contemporary clothing, but they’re kind of reaching into traditional dress. When you look at that kind of tailoring, the way that a jacket does up or that off-center fascinating… that’s in the anime! There’s a link. I found a thread, which led me to work out how to create something that had that single lapel and then make it disappear and come around the other side. So these designers gave me a way to find out how to make Spike Spiegel make sense. 

The suit is a very bright blue, and it’s unusual. We had to create something that embraced the character of Spike Spiegel, who is effortlessly cool, who then turns into this incredible fighting machine. Spike has this depth to him, with his entire past. But then goes back to being cool and heartbroken as well. I built all of that into the costume. 

In the anime, his fight style is described as water. I took that as has as a motif that can be seen on his trophy buckle in a beautiful moment of triumph. You get this flash of this trophy buckle where you can see t’s a tidal wave, a symbol of water. The trophy buckles, made by our in-house jeweler, also are a nod to the Cowboys. This followed through to the buttons that are engraved with the Japanese symbol for water.

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

Then on the inside of the jacket, I ended up printing a tiny pattern of falling roses on the lining of his jacket as a motif for Julia. Julia has a lot of hand-painted roses in her costuming. The same person who hand-painted those roses drew the roses that we replicated inside of his jacket. That’s just a little secret in there. Spike has Julia wrapped around him because he’s a guy with a broken heart, and Julia is his lost love. 

Cowboy Bebop was all about finding the essence of the character and bringing the anime together to work out how it might work on a real-life person. Then from there, drilling down how to add as much storytelling in those signature costumes as I could. 

Spencer: That’s so magical and why I love costume design so much. All of the detail you put into everything from the lapel to the lining… It’s really inspiring.

Jane: The anime was really our concept art. You look at a lot of concept art for costuming, and often it really doesn’t make sense. The concept art doesn’t tell you how to make it. You can focus on design concepts, but it doesn’t always work when it comes to actually making the costume.

The anime gave me the concept art, and my job was to work out its design. How does it actually work? How is it going to function? There is a difference between art and design; created design has to function. As a costume designer, I want that artistic freedom, but ultimately it has to function.

Spencer: Moving on to our other main characters, the idea of function was something you kept in mind when translating them. Let’s talk about Jet Black, shall we? Jet feels as though he came right from the anime, but it still has that apparent twist you mentioned.

Jane: Right. Jet Black is more straightforward. He’s wearing overalls that are kind of utilitarian. The design lines you see in the anime I carried through. It is very similar, but there’s a lot more detail in the costume we made as we translate the anime into real life. 

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

Spencer: It’s an interesting point because the anime is very flat in color; there’s not a lot of stitching detail. So that’s also part of the challenge too. 

Jane: I think it’s great if you think it’s the same as the anime because, well, that’s a job well done, isn’t it? Then he has that robot arm, which was a costume piece as well. We made that. We have a great costume department with and costume props area. The arm was made in the process of sculpting. 

Spencer: We have to talk about my favorite character. I love what you did with Faye Valentine because it’s reminiscent of the anime, but it’s functional, as you talked about earlier. Personally, I feel that her anime costume could not be translated onto a real woman and be functional. What you did with Faye’s live-action costume was functional but still mirrors the anime’s essence. Walk me through your work on this character.

I think it was clear to me that the Faye Valentine of the live-action series needed to do a lot more practically, functionally, than what that costume of the anime would allow her to do. I did the same with Faye as I did with Spike.

I took the character from the script, and I found the resonance. She’s a bounty hunter; she needed to be able to move, to fight, to kick! There was a whole function that was part of it, but there was also something about realizing the design lines of the animation.

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

It might appear that I’ve moved a long way away from the anime, but actually, I haven’t. The top, that’s not that different. We did quite a bit of trial. We had a full yellow two-piece; and a full black two-piece with yellow stitching. So we’ve still got the color in there. It was about finding the gravitas of the character and what she needed to do. 

It was essential to me was that it shouldn’t be gratuitous and overtly sexualized. Those aspects of her character, that’s up to the actor to deliver rather than me imposing that restriction on her. We’re past that in terms of how we present a leading female character in a show. 

So the design lines are actually very similar. Like the stocking, she’s got those high leather leggings. She’s also wearing tights underneath. There’s a lot that is similar, and I pretty much guarantee that if she just shrugged that red leather jacket off her shoulders and struck a Faye Valentine pose from the anime, you’d say she’s exactly the same.

Spencer: I agree, one thousand percent. If the jacket fell a little bit, then viewers would’ve thought it was exactly the same. Faye doesn’t need to be stuck with being this overtly sexualized character. I feel like your costuming helped give Daniella Pineda the room to bring life to this character. What you did with that costume was quite brilliant. 

Jane: Daniella, she’s just so super cool. We needed something that’s got a little bit of street and a bit of sass. She had to be in something that she could do all of this stuff in.

Spencer: I love to hear that. Did you feel like you collaborated a lot with the actors and actresses on this project? 

Jane: Yeah! I think that they’re critical relationships. They are to me because it’s a very intimate space. I was lucky, being in New Zealand and being so far away, that I was in the states right at the very beginning. I was in Los Angeles, and John Cho and Daniella were in Los Angeles. While I was there, I met both of them. I measured them. We talked about the characters. John and I sat down in a café, and we just talked about concept. We talked about ideas, the feeling of the character, and specifically what the costume would be. I think it was very valuable.

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

When I arrived in New Zealand, we had to work fast. When John arrived, we had put the suit on. There were so many things we talked about. From the beginning, and maybe in that first conversation, we talked about how Spike stands; it was really important to him. There’s a particular angle with his hand in his pocket. A classic anime pose!  It’s the more information you have to be working together, the better.

Spencer: You’ve talked about aging and dyeing a little bit. There’s a lot of blood, dirt, and action in this show. I’m notoriously obsessed with aging and dyeing. Can you just give me a little vision of this fun project?

Jane: *laughs* There’s this thing where you kind of build this beautiful costume. Then the first thing that happens to it is that they have to walk out, get hit with a bullet, and now there is blood on it. They trash it completely.

The trashing of the costume is part of the beauty; it’s another angle to costuming. It’s part of the craft. You have your pristine new thing, and then how do you make it look lived in? There is such an art to that. The textile artists who work within that have a painterly approach. There’s very little that ends up on screen without going through the aging and breakdown department.

Spencer: What I appreciate, especially when I think of space-oriented movies and television shows, I think of very minimalistic, clean, futuristic silhouettes. But you made Cowboy Bebop feel very real through the aging process.

Jane: It’s suspending disbelief, isn’t it? I mean, there’s a theatricality to any show that is not a representation of daily life. So what happens is Spike goes out, and he gets completely roughed up, and then next episode, he’s sort of clean again. We staged it where Spike has a closet on the Bebop where he opens the closet, and there’s a whole line of blue suits. That’s what you buy into with costume. It’s part of who they are. If they change out of that, there’s a reason. There are a few moments where characters are in a different costume, and there’s a reasoning behind that. But they come back to that signature costume as a place of comfort.

Spencer: The last character that we’re going to want to talk about is Vicious. I loved his black suiting. It’s, I think, one of my favorites.

Jane: When you look at the anime, you’re trying to work out what something is. It can be difficult because, a lot of the time, it’s pretty abstract. There was reference; you can see the design lines that come from the images of the anime. There’s a theatricality to him in the tailcoat that I interpreted.

I tried to find a musical kind of resonance with everybody. I found myself in a bit of a punk world with Viscious, but more heightened and stylized. I ended up drawing from real-life for Viscious by looking at the Antwerp six, such as Ann Demeulemeester, all amazing designers.

When Alex put on that costume, I wanted him to feel the power of the costume. Vicious has that straight leg and these big boots with this beautifully tailored coat. It’s got movement to it, so when he fights, there’s movement. The detailing of the chains that hold the coat together, they were made by our in-house jewelers.

Cowboy Bebop – Courtesy of Netflix

He’s got a trophy buckle as well. His trophy buckle has the cormorant because, in the anime, he always has a cormorant on his shoulder. So I took that cormorant and put it into his costume and on his ring as well. 

Spencer: This has been so much fun, and I’ve had such a good time talking with you. I feel like I’ve learned so much, and I just feel like rewatching the series now. What can we see you doing in the future? 

Jane: I hope for a second season! There’s so much ground to break. The second season is always where it feels like you start to take flight. I mean, you’ve got a warehouse full of stuff, a whole load of reference. It’s such a fun show. I mean the world-building… just oh my God! We had so much fun mixing vintage pieces, mixing different eras. There’s so much more that I want to do with Cowboy Bebop if I have the opportunity!

Spencer: It’s almost like every episode is its own movie. There’s always something different. World-building sounds like an understatement to me. 

Jane: It’s a crazy train! It is exactly like that. It’s like doing movie after movie, and it just doesn’t stop. That’s traveling as well. This is the fun part of it, to create the look of that world. 

Outside of Cowboy Bebop, we’re just finishing off this beautiful half-hour drama piece, which is a Māori supernatural story. Filmmaking and storytelling on a much more personal level, which I’m interested in doing as well. So I’ve kind of got this other little world alongside my career as a costume designer. 

There’s a film that’s just come out in New Zealand called Juniper with Charlotte Rampling in it. There’s always some storytelling to do. 

Spencer: Jane, thank you so much for joining me. This has been a lovely interview, and I’m really happy and excited for you. Cowboy Bebop was incredible, and the costumes, peak storytelling! I just want to thank you for your work on this project.

Jane: It was really great meeting you and nice to talk about the process. The creative process is such a fun thing. I mean, that’s the beauty of it. 


The live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop is now available on Netflix!

The Office: Holiday Special – Exclusive Robe Giveaway with Carey Bennett

DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO DECEMBER 5TH – 11:59 PM PST

The Art of Costume is excited to announce our new collaboration with costume designer Carey Bennett in unison with her recent guest feature on our official podcast, The Art of Costume Blogcast. In celebration of Bennett’s four seasons as costume designer on the hit television show, The Office and the upcoming holiday season – listeners are being presented with a chance to take home a one-of-a-kind piece straight from the set of The Office.

During the third season of The Office, employees were given a special holiday gift, a Dunder Mifflin robe. What you might not know is that everyone, including the cast and crew, was given their own robe as a gift… well, except for Toby Flenderson.

Now one of these robes from the set of The Office can be yours just in time for the holidays! To enter for a chance to take home your own Dunder Mifflin robe, read the directions below!

How To Enter:

  • Receipts must be delivered to our email by December 5th, 2021, at 11:59 PM PST.

For every $5.00 (USD) donated, your name will be entered in a drawing. During the season finale episode of The Art of Costumed Blogcast coming out on December 7th, 2021, Carey Bennett will be drawing the name of our winner!

Example of Receipt:

Restrictions:

  • This opportunity is exclusive to our listeners in the United States of America.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age to participate.
  • Members of The Art of Costume team are not eligible for participation.

The Office – A Benihana Christmas – Courtesy of NBC

Costuming The Royal Family: The Crown

The fourth season of The Crown has captured the attention of a worldwide audience with its glamorous and trendy costumes.

With a high budget (the production of the fourth season spent 13 million U.S. dollars per episode), The Crown has been telling the contemporary and intimate royal story of England from the 1940s until contemporary times. The fourth season, released in November 2020, focuses on the crucial period between 1977 and 1990.

Photogram of The Crown. Season 4, chapter 1: Gold Stick. Queen Elizabeth II in official parade in commemoration of her birthday.

The first image we want to talk about is a photogram of the first scene in the first chapter of the fourth season and is presented in the promotional trailer. As Commander-In-Chief of the British Armed Forces, Queen Elizabeth II (performed by Olivia Colman) is portrayed in the English uniform called the Trooping of the Colour (also known as the riding habit) to celebrate her birthday. The present costume shows the historical accuracy this show is known for. This costume involved four wardrobe fittings with the actress Olivia Colman due to its complexity. It is composed of a long dark riding skirt, the uniform of the Scottish Guard, a tricorn hat with regimental plume, and white gloves. Above the six medals, she is wearing the Order of the Garter star. This image transmits a feeling of strength and power in the royal family and fervent English patriotism.

Season four adds two iconic female figures of this particular era: Diana, Princess of Wales, and the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The presentation of these two emblematic figures in the show reflects on their character, with it will evolve in different manners for both of them during the season. 

Princess Diana:

the crown s4 picture shows princess diana emma corrin and prince charles josh o connor filming location ragley hall
Photogram of The Crown. Season 4, chapter 1: Gold Stick. First appearance of Diana Spencer.

The first encounter between Diana Spencer (performed by Emma Corrin) and Prince Charles (portrayed by Josh O’Connor) has a level of fantasy, mystery, and playful flirt kept throughout half of the season. The 16-year-old teenager is hiding with her ‘mad tree’ costume for a school production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, composed of a green leotard and a mask, both covered in green and yellow leaves. Costume designer Amy Roberts talked to Dezeen magazine about Diana’s first appearance in the show: “The first sighting of Diana is very unexpected. We start off seeing her as a young girl with very little fashion sense. She’s a plump, shy, charming, very appealing girl, and then she’s sort of grabbed by the palace.”

Watch Emma Corrin, as Princess Diana, Singing The Phantom of the Opera's  'All I Ask of You' in The Crown Extended Clip | Playbill
Photogram of The Crown. Season 4, Chapter 9: Avalanche. Princess Diana performing The Phantom of the Opera for Prince Charles.

We can compare the intention behind the previous costume with the one appearing in chapter number 9: Avalanche when Princess Diana performs for Prince Charles in a recording of The Phantom of the Opera. She blends with the set as if she always belonged to this fantasy world. Princess Diana appears wearing a spectacular period dress decorated with yellow stones and small pink roses, partially covered with her Christine Daaé seafoam green hooded cape. The costume shows her soft, naive and young self. The qualities that once captivated the prince now are increasing the gap between them. This becomes evident when we see him laughing and cruelly mocking the princess’ gift in the next scene.

Diana’s color palette was chosen among the actual garments the princess wore. The costume design department decided to isolate her colors from those of the royal family to emphasize the narrative of ‘her’ vs. ‘them.’ Usually, when Diana is wearing red, black, green, or purple (her primary colors), the rest of the Windsor’s family is dressed in a different color or shade.

Margaret Thatcher: 

Photogram of The Crown. Season 4, Chapter 1: Gold Stick. First appearance of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher (performed by Gillian Anderson), on the other hand, is presented with her iconic 70’s suit in a bright blue color and her signature pussy-bow blouse underneath, after being elected as prime minister, and starting a new era for the country and the rest of the world as well. Even though the first impression of Thatcher in the present show is an iconic image, borderline stereotypical, her wardrobe, in general, reflects herself beyond politics and helps the spectator get to know a different side of the ‘Iron woman.’

The countryside as a place of unity for the royal family:

The Crown Season 4: Why "The Balmoral Test" Is the Best Episode Yet
Photogram of The Crown. Season 4, Chapter 2: The Balmoral Test.

During the entire season, numerous scenes are occurring in Scotland, at the Balmoral castle. An earth color palette composed of green, brown and beige, the use of tartan pattern, waxed Barbour jackets, and garments for hunting are elements that the audience only see in this particular context of royal leisure, and as an attempt to blend with the Scottish culture and landscapes. This scenario is where the royal family appears to be closer to each other and relaxed.

In chapter 2: The Balmoral Test, we can appreciate the differences between the two outsiders getting closer to the royal family and testing before becoming part of their intimate circle: Thatcher and Diana. When we compare their arrival and first conversation with the castle staff, we notice that the Prime Minister brought exclusively indoor shoes. At the same time, the future princess of Wales packed only outdoor shoes. This small detail can pass unnoticed, but indeed is a pure reflection of their character and expectations.

Photogram of The Crown. Season 4, Chapter 2: The Balmoral test.
Thatcher Balmoral Test: Inside the real royal initiation shown in the Crown
Photogram of The Crown. Season 4, Chapter 2: The Balmoral test.

When comparing the two images presented above, the character of both female figures is strongly emerging. With her bright blue coat and the scarf tied around her neck as a style decision instead of covering her hair as practicality, Thatcher is portrayed as an outsider. She does not fit with the countryside activities. The substantial differences she and her husband encounter with the royal family’s costume drive them to cut their stay shorter and push her to take more decisive political decisions when she arrives in London. Thatcher makes a critical breakthrough concerning her leadership style.

On the other hand, Diana is blending in with the Windsors. She appears to pass all the tests that are presented to her. She looks like she always belonged there. But, as we all know, appearances can be deceiving. They tell only a fraction of the story. While the prime minister chooses to go to a different path from the royal suggestions early, Diana will encounter the differences between her and the royal family in an advanced stage, when she is already married to the crown and has royal responsibilities.

Prince Charles:

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Tie Accessories Accessory Human Person Suit Coat Overcoat Jacket and Blazer
Photogram of The Crown. Season 4, Episode 4: Favorites. The Queen goes to visit Prince Charles to his new house.

Prince Charles’ wardrobe for The Crown is worth mentioning due to his specific style. As Roberts says it at an interview for GQ, the prince “has that classic ‘boy at university who hasn’t found himself’ look.” He wears to perfection his vast collection of Savile Row suits.

What caught my attention was not the bold and fashionable wardrobe choices, such as the linen double-breasted suit and a short-sleeved patterned shirt that he wears in an intimate scene with his aunt Princess Margaret (performed by Helena Bonham Carter). I was more impressed by the little details, such as the color choice for the pocket square. When the end of the season is approaching, and the Prince starts to give up on his marriage and fight for his love for Camilla, we can notice the presence of her color -burgundy- in small details in his wardrobe. As he says in a heartbreaking fight scene with Princess Diana: “Camilla is who I want. That is where my loyalties lie. That is who my priority is.” His pocket square changes from light tones of blue or even white to darker tones, such as patterned black or the burgundy color as mentioned above. His transition to a more mature phase is reflected in a way in his pocket squares.

Josh O'Connor, Olivia Colman and 'The Crown' Showrunner Discuss Season 4 |  Esquire
Photogram of The Crown. Season 4.

This season has many emblematic costumes, from original pieces created by the costume designer Amy Roberts in imaginary private scenes to perfect historical recreations. For more information on Princess Diana’s wedding dress, see the linked article by  Mariana Sandoval. This article is going to finish with a reflection from Roberts about the fourth season’s general mood. She says that the aesthetics are more solid than in the other three seasons. She further explains: “There’s a steadiness with [season] four, there’s a darker palette. Everybody’s kind of in their middle; middle age, middle ground. Anne is married, there are children… The Queen is more settled in her role, her marriage.” The exceptions, the curiosity, and interesting elements are brought by Thatcher and Diana. They are like “a breath of fresh air” for the spectator, as Roberts says. 


Reference list:

“The Crown: Watch Emma Corrin’s Sweet, Cringey Phantom of the Opera Performance”. Vanity Fair Magazine. August, 2021.

“The Queen and The Crown”. Virtual exhibit, organized by Netflix and the Brooklyn Museum.

IMDB.

“The Crown Season 4: a glimpse inside the wardrobe”. Financial Times. November, 2020.

The Crown’s ‘Balmoral Test’ Barbours Are Not Just Jackets”. Vulture, New York Magazine. December, 2020.

“The Crown costumes move ‘from forensic accuracy to flights of fancy’ says Amy Roberts”. Dezeen Magazine. November, 2020.

The Crown Dives Into the Powerful Mediocrity of Royal Style”. GQ. November, 2020.

“The Crown’s costume designer on the challenges of re-creating royalty”. GQ. November, 2020.

“A love letter to Prince Charles’ suit collection in The Crown”. GQ. November, 2020.

Costuming The Girl In The Woods, With Designer Erin Orr

There is a creepy chill on the air – some terrifying costumes approach! I am very excited to share a look into the costuming for The Girl In The Woods! In the supernatural drama The Girl In The Woods, produced by Crypt TV and premiering on Peacock, monsters are real! They are kept at bay behind a mysterious door in a cult-like colony. Teenage runaway Carrie’s job is to guard that door, but when strange occurrences begin to shake the sleepy mining town to its core, she must enlist the help of new friends Nolan and Tasha. The group becomes an unlikely trio of monster slayers, determined to save their loved ones.

I am honored to have interviewed costume designer Erin Orr before the premiere of the show to get all of the horrific details in costuming The Girl In The Woods! Crypt TV’s “The Girl In The Woods” premieres Thursday, October 21 on Peacock. All eight episodes will drop at once!


Spencer: Hi Erin, I’m so excited to talk to you finally. I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a long while now! How are you?

Erin: I’m great; it’s nice to talk with you today! This is exciting, and The Girl In The Woods was a fun project, so I’m happy to talk about it.

Spencer: I had fun just watching it! Before we get into The Girl In The Woods, I would love to hear a little bit about your journey to becoming a costume designer on the show. Where did this passion for costume design come from?

Erin: I was always very heavily influenced by costume design as a kid and as a teenager, trying to find my way of expressing myself. I grew up watching Blossom, My So-Called Life, and Heathers. Then, of course, Molly Ringwald and the John Hughes movies. I was always very heavily influenced in the way I dressed based on what I saw in film and television. I initially went to film school thinking I would be a writer and director; that’s what I studied in film school. When I graduated, I produced a movie with some friends from film school called George Washington with director David Gordon Green. Then for his second feature, I did the costumes. I’d always wanted to do that, and that was a perfect opportunity. I could just start as a costume designer without really knowing what I was doing because I didn’t come up traditionally.

The Girl In The Woods Costume Designer, Erin Orr

I kind of backtracked a little after doing that movie. I worked as a set costumer for a while in New York on various TV shows and movies. As a costume supervisor for a while, and then I took ten years out of the business completely when I had kids. My husband’s in the business as he is a DP, a cinematographer, and he’s away on location nine months out of the year. We would pack up and travel with him on location, so I didn’t work at all for ten years.

When we moved up to Portland, there was a bunch of stuff shooting here, and I started getting back into the business part-time. As my kids got older, I was ready to jump back in! I was lucky that a director I had worked with in New York was making a movie here in Portland and hired me as the designer. After that, I was able to get an agent and kind of jump back in, which has been great.

Spencer: That’s so exciting. Do you feel over those ten years, your desire to return to the industry was just building up inside of you? Ten years later?

Erin: I always think I always had hopes I was would be able to get back in, but I wasn’t sure that I would… You know, ten years is a long time to be out of the business completely. When I left the business, we were taking continuity photos with Polaroids. When I came back, everything was on an iPhone! Things had changed a lot! In that time, I did a lot of fashion-related things for myself in terms of selling clothes. These have always been my two significant interests in life, fashion and movies. Costume design was my perfect way of tying those two things together. 

Stefanie Scott as Carrie - The Girl In The Woods
Scott Green/Peacock

Spencer: Let’s talk about The Girl In The Woods, shall we! The Girl In The Woods is a supernatural drama. It gives me all of those spooky season vibes I have been craving! Are you a fan of horrors and thrillers?

Erin: I am! Yeah, my favorite ones are some of the older ones, like Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining.

Spencer: Yes! Both are fantastic choices. 

Erin: Especially with horror, I feel like there’s such an opportunity to create an iconic costume. We would joke in the making of The Girl in The Woods; if we were doing it right, people would want to dress up as Carrie for Halloween. There’s this sort of whole other element that comes into horror movies, and designing them with that in mind.

Spencer: I could sense that you are a horror fan, seeing Carrie’s costumes especially. By the way, Carrie would make the perfect Halloween costume! So let’s talk about costuming this show. It’s quite interesting because it shines a light on the drastic differences, thoughts, and cultures between various communities. So I want to start by talking about the mysterious colony, what influences did you take in when the costuming, The Colony?

Erin: We took a lot of influences, actually. Some of the basic frameworks were in the script in terms of the basic colors for the colony. We knew we wanted to have this beige and tan palette, canvas, and off-white colors. From there, we had a lot of references! We reference early military costumes, martial arts costuming, vintage American workwear, Amish and Hutterite societies. Our team even looked at pioneer wear and early-American farming clothing. We sort of took little bits and pieces of all of those things and put them together. 

Scott Green/Peacock

Within the colony, we wanted to create this separation between The Guardians and the regular colony members. Take Carrie and Arthur Deane for example; those costumes are all made out of wax canvas. We wanted their clothes to have more structure and heft than the regular colony members, which were softer and flowing. They don’t have much structure at all. We did a mix of making things from scratch and using off-the-rack pieces that we dyed or altered in some way. Pretty much every piece of clothing for the colony we touched in some way or another, whether it was dying, altering, or switching out the buttons. All the buttons are made out of wood.

Stefanie Scott as Carrie - The Girl In The Woods
Scott Green/Peacock

We tried to make it evident that The Colony shoos technology in every way. The Colony was dressed in clothing that they theoretically could have made themselves, or they could have made using a pedal machine. We only use zippers, I think in one place, which was on Carrie’s jumpsuit. The rest, there were no zippers anywhere else. 

Spencer: I’m obsessed with this concept. I love the fact that the approach you took was so authentic and fully realized. The idea that you used wooden buttons and no zippers because that is what The Colony would have done, just peak costume design.

Erin: Right, and it was fun! It was cool to see it all come together. We also had this framework where we wanted everything to be unisex, there were no dresses or skirts in the colony. Everybody wears the same. We also wanted it to feel like uniformity is a big part of the colony so that everyone’s seen the same.

Spencer: So you touched a little bit on aging and dying. I’m a considerable aging and dying nerd. Were there any fun processes that you used on this particular project that maybe I could get in on

Erin: *laughs* Yes! We used a lot of wax canvas, and Carrie’s Guardian jumpsuit, in particular, was just a white waxed canvas. When we bought the bolt, we then had to age that down. We used different colored waxes that we tinted, and then we put that on top of the wax canvas. Then, we also used some different colored powders on top to create that color. Arthur Deane’s coat was just made of canvas which we completely waxed ourselves, and that was all tinted wax that we would melt in a crockpot. It was quite a process. Our tailor, Savannah Gordon, who’s amazing, was responsible for that!

Spencer: That’s so fun. I could talk about aging and dying forever. But let’s move on to the main character of the show, Carrie, played by Stephanie Scott. She escaped the colony in the first episode, therefore embarking on quite the journey. I would love to hear your process in costuming Carrie, because she transitions from her guardian costume into everyday life outside of the colony. I think that’s an exciting aspect. 

Erin: So with Carrie, Krysten Ritter was the director of the pilot episode and the first four episodes. She had a lot of ideas about how she wanted to Carrie to dress. One of the things that were really important to her was that Carrie wasn’t sexualized in any way because she comes from this colony where that’s not a thing. 

Stefanie Scott as Carrie - The Girl In The Woods
Scott Green/Peacock

She shows up at Tasha’s house, meaning whatever clothing Carrie is wearing from this point would have come from Tasha. But we didn’t want Carrie to look like Tasha either, so we wanted it to be more like… a shirt that Tasha gave her that she sleeps in or maybe her Dad’s Army jacket. We wanted her to have a different silhouette from the other two. Carrie’s silhouette is much boxier, looser, not as tight-fitting. Carrie has this “fish out of the water” feeling compared to the rest of the kids in the town.

Spencer: That’s so interesting now that you’ve mentioned that. Oh my gosh, that’s Tasha’s Dad’s jacket. I think it’s also interesting that you can’t even tell how old Carrie is. Carrie is really stripped-down once she’s left The Colony; you just kind of know nothing about her. The costuming really played a big part in that.

Erin: Right. Thank you!

Spencer: I loved the costumes you did for Tasha (played by Sofia Bryant) and my favorite character Nolan, (played by Misha Osherovich). I thought it was hilarious, opening with their characters creating TikToks. These two characters are bringing the fashion, and it felt so current – can you talk about costuming these two? They work in harmony but also tell different stories.

Stefanie Scott (Carrie), Misha Osherovich (Nolan), Sofia Bryant (Tasha) in The GIrl In The Woods
Scott Green/Peacock

Erin: It’s so colorful. We had a color palette for these guys where Tasha wore reds and yellows, and Nolan was purples and blues. We wanted them to feel different from Carrie. They’re teenagers who use TikTok and the internet. They’re very connected to the outside world and therefore influenced by the outside world in a way that Carrie isn’t. With Tasha, we wanted her to be sort of eclectic and fun who is also a little bit loud in certain ways. With Nolan, we wanted them to be free from traditional gender expressions and mix up many different things.

Spencer: That’s so fun! What would you say like we’re some of Nolan and Tasha’s influences if you were to guess?

Erin: I don’t know that I had a direct influence for either one of them except to say that the actors themselves influenced me quite a bit.

Misha Osherovich as Nolan - The Girl In The Woods
Scott Green/Peacock

Spencer: Oh right, that definitely makes sense for Tasha and Nolan.

Erin: Misha had a lot of ideas and thoughts, and they brought a lot to the table. Sofia had a lot of ideas as well. I feel like with both of those characters especially; it was a real collaboration between Krysten, myself, and the actors. 

Spencer: I love to hear that. Do you enjoy that sort of actor and costume designer collaboration and listening to their ideas?

Erin: Absolutely, I love it. I always say to the actors in fittings, “if you don’t like this… tell me! It won’t hurt my feelings. If you don’t like it, it’s out.” The actors have to like it. The costume is what gets them into their character. I want them to feel confident and when they put on those clothes, they become that character. It has to be a collaboration; if I feel like I’m talking an actor into something, then it’s probably not the right fit.

Sofia Bryant as Tasha - The Girl In The Woods
Scott Green/Peacock

Spencer: Right, and the actors and the costumes, they can’t work together in the sense of telling the story if they don’t feel comfortable with it. Then they’re not telling a story the way that you, the director, really envision.

Erin: Exactly!

Spencer: Erin, I’m so fascinated by work on the show, it brought me into the fantasy, and I’m loving every episode of it. I have not a few more episodes to go, so I don’t really know what’s coming next, but any kind of frightful surprises we’re in for coming up later?

Erin: Oh god. That’s a hard one to answer. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say! I am also waiting to see where this story goes with bated breath, and I hope we get a season 2 to tell it!

Spencer: Well I am hoping for the same thing. I need more of these costumes… and Misha Osherovich…. Thank you so much Erin for talking to me, I am beyond excited about the audience watching this show and seeing your brilliant costume design!

Erin: Thank you so much!


Crypt TV’s “The Girl In The Woods” premieres Thursday, October 21 on Peacock. All eight episodes will drop at once at www.peacocktv.com/stream-tv/the-girl-in-the-woods.

Deliciously Macabre: The Costumes of What We Do In The Shadows

It’s September, which in my view, is just October Eve. Spooky season quietly lurks in the shadows, pumpkin spice lattes appear in your local Starbucks, and suddenly everyone has the urge to watch slasher films… or Harry Potter. For me, I can also feel my annual obsession with vampires returning! Luckily for me, I was given the incredible opportunity of speaking with costume designer Laura Montgomery, responsible for the costumes of season three of my favorite comedy, What We Do In The Shadows!

Laura Montgomery is a film and television costume designer based in Toronto, Canada. Montgomery’s costume design credits include, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, Small Town Murder Songs (TIFF Official Selection 2010), When Moses Woke (Gemini Award Winner for Best Direction in a Performing Arts Program), Coopers’ Christmas (TIFF Official Selection 2008), and What We Do in the Shadows S3. I spoke with Laura about the costumes for the third season, What We Do In The Shadows; please enjoy!


Spencer: Hi Laura! I am so excited to meet you! We are such big fans of What We Do In The Shadows here at The Art of Costume and have been dying for the new season! Thank you for joining me.

What We Do In The Shadows Costume Designer – Laura Montgomery

Laura: It’s my pleasure. I’m a big fan of the show too, so it’s a treasured opportunity anytime I can talk about it! 

Spencer: The first two episodes of the third season, “The Prisoner” and “The Cloak of Duplication,” are complete masterpieces, and I am already in love with the costumes! You must have been so excited to take on this project?

Laura: I was really excited! To begin with, I was a huge fan of the movie. I was the assistant costume designer for the first two seasons to Amanda Neale, the costume designer from New Zealand who had been working with Jemaine Clement on projects – she had also done the movie! When I heard that the show would be filmed in Toronto, I knew I wanted to join the team.

We shot the third season during the pandemic in 2020. There were many reasons, but it was just a safer decision [for Amanda] to stay in New Zealand. So I was just thrilled to kind of take on the characters – use what has been established and be able to put my own little spin on things.

Spencer: It’s a brilliant concept, vampires in a mockumentary format, living in Staten Island, New York! Each character comes to Staten Island with a unique background. Nandor The Relentless is from the fictional kingdom of Al-Quolanudar in Southern Iran and a warrior serving the Ottoman Empire; Laszlo Cravensworth was an English Nobleman, and Nadja is a Romani vampire. Though it is the third season, we are still learning about these individuals.

What do your research and creative process look like when it comes to costuming the vampires and creating the costumes of What We Do In the Shadows?

Laura: The research is my absolute favorite part, and this show is great because you don’t have to be perfect about it. It starts with the conceit that you know these vampires kind of got stuck in the period in which they were human.

As you said, Nandor is from the Persian region in the 1400s. Laszlo has a Victorian feel to him; we think he got turned in the mid-1800s. He’s from England, and Nadja has that Greek-ish background. Her story’s a little bit looser. She was born in, I think, the 1600s, but we go a little more Victorian with her as well. The show is contemporary, so that’s when they were born, but we have the freedom to use elements from the 80s – they’ve lived through all the decades. We can say, oh, they picked up this piece when they were clubbing in the 90s, or they picked up something you know they’ve got all these collected pieces.

What We Do in The Shadows S3 – Courtesy of FX

I found it really fascinating last year I did a lot of research into Nandor’s background, and I really wanted to make him as authentic as possible. So I started looking up Persian textiles and a lot of art from that period. I visited a museum in Toronto called the Agha Khan, where they currently have a great exhibition showcasing paintings of this Iranian epic poem. The kings in those dynasties started to get interested in illustrating the poem, so there were many illustrated versions commissioned around the 1400s. So I’ve been looking at those images to bring inspiration, even some of the colors. I was surprised by the way they would wear things the silhouettes.

I was so, so satisfied with the second episode, “The Cloak of Duplication,” in part because of Nandor’s exercise pants that he wears.

Spencer: Ugh, yes, I was going to ask you about those! They were so good!

Laura: One of the producers said that he saw a Twitter thread commenting on their authenticity, saying they’re really Persian. It’s true; they’re from this ancient Persian sport, called Zurkhaneh or Pahlevani. I knew I wanted to get these pants, and we have a couple of Iranian people on our costume team. So I found the pants from a maker who makes them custom in Tehran. I started the conversation with him, and then eventually, someone from our team helped me. So we got them made, and then she had a friend who was in Tehran and would be coming to Toronto, so the friend picked them up and brought them over. It took months, but I was so happy to get the genuine pads and that they were recognized.

Spencer: Nandor running on a treadmill was hilarious to me, and suddenly I stopped laughing when I saw the shorts. I just thought, oh my gosh, look at the fabric – look at those shorts!  I’ve never seen anything like them!

Laura: Yes! It started by searching up Persian sports; people still practice it in the modern-day. Also, during the 80s, there was the wrestler – The Iron Sheik. Do you know who that is? *laughs*

Spencer: *laughs* No, I’m sorry! Please tell me! I am pretty rusty on my 80s wrestlers.

Laura: He was from the Hulk Hogan era. So these two roads are what lead me to those traditional pants Nandor wears.

Spencer: That makes sense, and this conversation reminded me of the first season where Nandor applies for citizenship while wearing his 90s basketball jersey from the Olympics, so it makes sense that he would have something that may be a little dated. 

We have to talk about Colin Robinson, an energy vampire who lives in the basement. Colin Robinson is unique because he is hardly unique nor interesting – which makes him one of the most hilarious characters. Can you walk me through Colin’s wardrobe?

What We Do in The Shadows S3 – Courtesy of FX

Laura: Colin was a new concept introduced to the series. For Amanda and Mark Proksch, it kind of clicked into place when it came to the color palette. Colin would always wear beige and keep within that color palette. So that’s where we get the very monotone boring palette. 

What I tried to do this year was elevate the tailoring.

Spencer: Oh, I love that!

Laura: Colin had been picking up things from all kinds of periods, especially the 90s. Knowing this year that he’s about to turn 100, I was able to home in on the 40s and 50s as his era. I started looking at a lot of 40s tailoring. We got a lot of custom pieces done for him this season. I hope it won’t be too noticeable a difference, but we tried to refine the tailoring a little bit.

Spencer: It’s a subtle difference! He’s boring, but also, it’s like it’s still a nice suit, though. He does have a good eye for a decent tailored suit.

Laura: Yeah, I think he would be the kind of person who would really go down a wormhole of the specifics of sartorial details and talk someone’s ear off about things.

Spencer: *laughs* Absolutely; he would! That is a brilliant concept!

Guillermo De La Cruz, everyone’s favorite vampire familiar played by Harvey Guillén, has found himself on quite the journey. It turns out he is the descendant of the vampire hunter, Van Helsing. How do you approach costuming Guillermo – a familiar turned vampire bodyguard? His wardrobe has changed in a more sophisticated way that subtly aligns him with the vampires, without screaming it from the rooftops.

What We Do in The Shadows S3 – Courtesy of FX

Laura: Yeah, he’s always wanted to be a vampire, and this is something that Harvey has brought to the table. Because he wants to be a vampire, Harvey always wants to bring in this idea that Guillermo is trying to dress the part.

The trench coat is something that was introduced in season two. When he had to do the fighting, that was his Van Helsing moment. Because he’s now the bodyguard, we had to toughen them up even more. We introduced waistcoats! We’re trying to keep him that soft and cuddly and Guillermo,  but at the same time, he is the bodyguard now. So he has a leather waistcoat with his Bandelier of detachable stakes.

Spencer: It’s so ridiculously perfect; I love it.

Our favorite vampire roommates have found themselves in quite the unexpected position – now leading Vampiric Council found in New York. This transition immediately gave sophistication to the character’s costumes, particularly Nandor and Nadja, as they are splitting the leadership role. Can you explain the development of these costumes?

What We Do in The Shadows S3 – Photo By Russ Martin – Courtesy of FX

Laura: That was something that came from the writing. The cape is a piece that we’ve had, I think, since season one. But there was a note in the script saying they dress more nicely than usual. We want to keep raising the bar because, in every season, it seems like there’s some sort of fancy thing that happens. 

So for Nandor, that meant the hat. I was seeping the shape of that hat in a lot of paintings. Then for Nadja, it was really fun to blow out the shoulders and make it special.

Spencer: I love it, such an excellent way to start the season. I’m obsessed with these costumes, and I recognized the cape, but just the subtle touch of the hat said everything to me.

Laura- Oh, just wait. I have a favorite costume coming up, and there’s another character’s costume. I just think it’s so hilarious.

Spencer: This isn’t fair; now I am going to want to do this interview all over again in a few weeks! You’ll be hearing from me!

I was excited to see Kristen Schaal return to reprise her role as The Guide, aka as The Floating Woman. I am absolutely in love with her costume! Can we just talk about this costume for a second?

What We Do in The Shadows S3 – Courtesy of FX

Laura: In the beginning, I think she only had one or two costumes when we saw her in season one, but already she wore the hat really well. It was a French hood with a veil that she wore in season one. I just decided; she’s obviously a fashionista. So for this season, she has a whole closet because she’s in, I think pretty much every episode. I wanted to play with the silhouettes – she has a lot of structure with a mix of 1600s meets very modern. There were a lot of designer influences – a lot of Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh.

Spencer: I must mention the physically younger generation of vampires we saw in Nandor and Nadja’s first official Vampiric Council business outing. A group of vampires calling themselves the Council of Vampires shows themselves to be a minor problem for the official Vampiric Council. From a costume point of view, I thought these scenes were so interesting because they were vampires in more contemporary fashion – wardrobe-wise. Yet they still had that vampire look – how did you approach these scenes from a costume perspective?

Laura: That is such a fun thing about the show is that we have our vampires, but then there are also these contemporary characters. These new vampires, they were young. But then there’s always that idea of how old were they when they turned? So it was very fortunate because the 90s are really in style right now. The 90s are back, and that’s when I was a teenager, so I feel like I know that era so well. It was so fun to see Urban Outfitters have all this stuff I was wearing in high school.

The show is not trendy at all. We always say there’s a fine line, they’re not cheap, but it’s tacky. Our main characters look a little dated compared to the 20s vampires; this was the first time we got to do something a bit more trendy.

What We Do in The Shadows S3 – Courtesy of FX

Spencer When I saw them on screen the first time, I was like, whoa whoa, who are they and what are they wearing!

Laura, I am already in love with this season and the costumes of What We Do In The Shadows. I am so excited to see what’s next and I am also happy to have learned that you will be continuing forward as costume designer into the fourth season as well! I know you can’t reveal much about what’s to come – but I imagine there is a lot to look forward to!

Laura: Everyone says that the scripts are even funnier, and I don’t know how that’s possible. We just started pre-production now, and we start shooting soon, but the scripts are great from what I’ve read!

Spencer: Oh gosh, I am so excited. Until the next time, thank you so much for joining me; I can’t wait until we meet again!

Laura: Oh, you’re welcome! Thank you!

See the costumes of What We Do In The Shadows on Thursdays on FX. Next Day FX on Hulu.

The Queen’s Wardrobe: A Glimpse Into Beth Harmon’s Costumes and The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit brought to our screens an inspiring, emotional and intimate story about a female chess prodigy. It takes place in the late 1950’s and early to mid 1960’s in The United States and around many other countries.

It has received 18 nominations, not only for the outstanding performance of Anya Taylor-Joy, as Elizabeth Harmon, but also for its production and cinematography. The costumes, of course, have not been left behind. Costume Designer Gabriele Binder won a Costume Designers Guild Award for “Excellence in Period Television” and recently won an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Period Costumes Category. With an extraordinary attention to colour, detail, silhouette and building around 80% of the costumes for the series, Gabriele portrayed this decade in a flawless way through Beth Harmon’s costumes.

The Netflix miniseries tells the story of Beth and her journey from becoming an orphan with a tragic past to a chess grandmaster. Along the series, Beth gains courage and confidence to beat anyone that comes in her way. However, she struggles with loneliness, addiction, as well as with power and love. All of this is expressed through the costumes and brings Beth Harmon to life.

Right: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

At the show’s beginning, Beth is given a uniform at the orphanage and is forced to wear it for many years. This uniform, a dull grey/brown jumper dress, off-white Peter Pan collared shirt, white socks, and shoes, was a standard uniform during the 1950s. The Peter Pan collar was very popular during this period, and Gabriele used it accurately on many occasions.

Left to right: 1. Isla Johnston as Beth Harmon and Christiane Seidel as Miss Deardoff. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix 2. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

Later on, in 1963, Beth wins her first chess competition, and with the cash prize, she buys herself a much more stylish plaid pinafore dress. She pairs it with a 3/4 sleeve collared shirt, white bobby socks, and black and white saddle shoes. This is the first time that Beth connects deeply with fashion and actually picks what she wants to wear. Going forward, her outfits and addiction to fashion just get better, making her look confident and empowered.

At this moment, we witness a glimpse of Beth’s wardrobe’s connection to the chessboard: checks, plaids, and geometrical or linear prints. These patterns were also a trend during the 1960s, known as op-art. In most scenes, the background characters’ costumes also include a subtle checkered or plaid pattern—a brilliant and accurate detail from Gabriele that works perfectly for storytelling purposes.

Left to right: 1. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing plaid pinafore dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix 2. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing checkered dress, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Townes. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

“Beth Harmon should have felt more confident in a checkered outfit. The contrast of the check print also mirrors the nuances of the game itself—it’s decisive, it’s win or lose” -Gabriele Binder, Costume Designer.

As Beth starts gaining confidence in her life and in chess, she starts to experiment with fashion and discovers her real style. In Mexico City, 1966, the costumes are just astonishing. She is using warmer colours and often has an A line silhouette that allures more to the 1950’s fashions. As a teenage girl that comes from a small town in USA, this is what was available to her. So, not only her costumes are cohesive with time period and geography, but also make her look secure and professional.

One really interesting point about Beth’s costumes is Gabriele’s attention to detail in necklines and torso. Since Beth is most of the time sitting at the chessboard, she needed to look elegant, interesting and professional. Without the use of any cleavage or jewellery because that could cause distraction. The use of Peter Pan collars (right photo) and checkered details, the buttons on her dress (left photo), are still clever and work perfectly.

Left to right: 1. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing dress with checkered buttons. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix 2. Mathew Dennis-Lewis as Matt, Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon, Russell Dennis-Lewis as Mike. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

By 1967, Beth goes to Ohio and New York City before heading to Paris. Her costumes are slowly jumping to the ‘60s, with more interesting prints and mini skirts, making her look more confident and comfortable in her environment. One of the designer’s favorite looks is a casual white and black t-shirt flared jeans. This outfit is a rather repetitive look through the episodes, and it’s what she wears when feeling comfortable. Her headbands add an interesting touch to her feminine looks and make her hair look amazing.

“We wanted Beth Harmon’s late 1950s, early 1960s look to be a little bit backwards on purpose—that way we could clearly show the moment when she catches up with the modern day in New York where she discovers how young people in her generation are living.” -Gabriele Binder, Costume Designer shares with Vogue

In three pictures: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

In Paris, Beth’s love for fashion becomes more evident. Being now in the world’s Fashion Capital, her looks are more elegant, structural, and linear. The so popular 1960’s minidress, which we first see on Cleo, makes her look older and like a true fashion icon. For these episodes, Costume Designer Gabriele Binder incorporated references from Pierre Cardin. The mint green bow dress (the one she wore on her match with Borgov) resembled the pill colors and was made from a light crepe. The colors and fabric contributed to show how unstable and fragile she was at this particular moment, which at the same time symbolized the way she was slowly destroying herself with her addictions.

Left to right: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing Pierre Cardin inspiration dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing her “pill” dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix.

When Beth encounters total loneliness and failure, she jumps into a self-destructive spiral. She feels lost and insecure, which transforms her appearance entirely, and we see her for the first time wearing pastel colors. The choice of this pink cardigan and baby blue camisole can be a way of grieving her late Mother, Alma, because these were colors she (Alma) ordinarily worn. In addition to this, we see her copying the style and makeup of a singer that she sees on TV. Impeccable detail in this costume is her hat. This is the first time we see Beth wearing a hat, probably trying to hide her red hair, which has always made her stand out from the crowd.

Left to right: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing her pastel look. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing her rebel look. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix.

Gabriele’s attention to color was a huge point during the creation of these costumes. Beth’s costumes centered on one particular color, pale green. This color is the one she is wearing in Episode 1 when she first arrives at the orphanage. It symbolized “home” but made her look weak and fragile. By the end of the show, at her final match with Borvog, Beth is wearing a wool collared dress in the exact same color. It makes her look so strong and sophisticated that we can see how the color transformed with her and how she is once again “home.” Also, it is a color that contrasts but extraordinarily compliments her red hair.

“We wanted to use this colour to show that she finally feels confident and that her mother is with her. At this moment, she is not afraid of the man she has been most afraid of. In the beginning, it’s a colour that makes her really fragile, but in the end, the same colour is a sign of her strength; it is symbolic of a homecoming.” -Gabriele Binder, Costume Designer shares with Vogue

Left to right: 1. Beth’s embroidered dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix 2. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing wool collared dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

Vintage pieces from the decade inspire the final coats that we see her wearing in Moscow. The checkered coat, which Binder called “Beth’s Pride Coat,” is what she wears to leave the tournament in Moscow. “It was a beautiful vintage piece that we found, which I believe was designed by André Courrèges for an American designer as part of a collaboration. This was a very self-confident piece; we wanted the visuals of a strong decision referenced by the checks”. Courrèges was one of the first to use op-art aesthetics in his collections, so it is evident how his stamp was used throughout the whole show as an accurate reference. Also, these final outfits have inspiration from Jaqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn, two icons from the era.

By the end, Beth Harmon is The White Queen of the chess world. She has conquered what she came looking for and has demonstrated how strong, determined, intelligent, and talented she can be. This final look is also referencing the work of André Courrèges. She is wearing a black long-sleeve turtleneck, white straight trousers, white leather ankle boots, knee-length white wool coat with stand collar, white cap, and leather gloves. Her elegance and simplicity make her look absolutely stunning. This final look is the perfect way to finish the story of Beth’s character. It summarizes her whole path, her style, her strength, and her symbolism with chess. 

Left to right: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing checkered coat. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing The White Queen outfit. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

Gabriele Binder and her talented crew brought together an impeccable wardrobe for a Netflix limited series that we will never forget. They were able to bring together pieces from chess, fashion, addiction, empowerment, and the beautiful and iconic ‘50s and 60’s to our screens. They told the story of a strong and out-of-the-ordinary chess player and made her the Beth Harmon that we will never forget. Thank you for reviving this decade and perfectly telling such a good story.

If you would like to hear more about The Queen’s Gambit’s costumes, go and check The Art of Costume Blogcast.


References:

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!

2021 Emmys Roundtable – Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes

Spencer: Hey Team! Thank you so much for being here. There is SO much great costume design in the Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes category this year. On a personal note, this is always my favorite category, so I am just beyond excited. Let’s go around and talk about your favorites, and why! Let’s start with Candice!

Candice: I loved Lovecraft Country. Dayna Pink’s costumes are genius. It was the only reason I paid for an HBO subscription. 

WandaVision was another favorite of mine. I usually am not a fan of the ’70s, but I am obsessed with Geraldine’s 70’s ensemble from episode 3. However, I loved it even more after listening to Spencer and Elizabeth’s podcast. I never noticed the subtle hints through costume when I watched it each week. I had many “Oh My, how did I miss that” moments when listening to the podcast.  

Umbrella Academy is a top favorite of mine.  The oddball characters were brilliantly executed. I need every costume designed for Kate Walsh, the Handler, in my closet now. Christopher Hargadon did a great job!

Spencer: Candice, I couldn’t agree more. All of your picks were so fun! Now I would love to hear from Elizabeth. You and I share a great love for Fantasy/Sci-Fi! What were some of your favorites this year?

Elizabeth: Hey everyone! My personal favorite this year has to be WandaVision. While it’s not a classic Sci-Fi show in visual terms, the costumes in WandaVision help tell a complex story of how we process grief. In its nominated episode, Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience, Wanda is in the denial stage of her grief and is creating her idealized version of the perfect 1950’s sitcom. The costumes are soft with full fluffy skirts, frilly aprons, and feathery lingerie create a cocoon for Wanda, sheltering her from her grief. Mayes C. Rubeo truly turns emotions into costume and I love that about WandaVsion

WandaVision – Courtesy of Disney +

Spencer: Such a great point Elizabeth. WandaVision was filled with so much symbolism.

For me, I am a HUGE fan of Dayna Pink and her work on Lovecraft Country. This was by far one of my favorite shows of the year, and I thought Dayna did such an incredible job. Dayna not only mastered the 1950’s period costume, but she also had to work with lots of time traveling – exploring the 1920’s, The Korean War, The Kingdom of Dahomey, and the future! Not to mention all of the horror elements that led to much aging and dyeing of costumes. I would personally love to see Dayna win this year’s award.

However, we all know I am a huge nerd. I LOVED WandaVision – it gave me so much life. I also was obsessed with the second season of The Mandalorian. Shawna Trpcic has such an exciting task, bringing to life so many characters we love in animated worlds such as Ahsoka Tano or bringing back huge fan favorites such as Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker. This is a tough category.

Spencer: Thank you both for joining me! Before you go, do you have any good sci-fi /fantasy shows or films to recommend?

Candice: I recommend and loved The Nevers. It is period mixed with SciFi. The Victorian-inspired costumes and setting are as intriguing as the storyline. I want to rewatch The Witcher before the premiere of Season 2. I love Motherland: Fort Salem on Free Form. The story of witches is told from a different angle, witch militia, working with the military and against other witches. Stranger Things season 1-3 if you haven’t watched it and have to wait an eternity like the rest of us for the next season. I am currently watching and enjoying Fantasy Island. Each guest who visits the island learns the fantasy they want is different than what they need. 

Elizabeth: I can not recommend Doom Patrol enough! It’s SciFi and superheroes dialed to a hundred with a great balance of comedy and drama. Also, the costumes are diverse and interesting in every episode.
Spencer: If you are not watching What We Do In The Shadows, you are seriously missing out. The new season is out, and costume designer Laura Montgomery is doing a fabulous job! Check it out!

Vote For Your Favorite Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes Below!

2021 Emmys Roundtable – Outstanding Contemporary Costumes

Spencer: Hey Team! Thank you so much for being here. There is SO much excellent costume design in the Outstanding Contemporary Costumes category this year. I honestly have no idea which way the award will go; everyone here is so deserving! Before I start blabbing on, let’s go around and talk about your favorites and why! Let’s start with Jada!

Jada: Hi everybody! I’m so excited to be here. I agree; despite the obstacles faced this past year, contemporary costume design has flourished! I’m not sure who’s going to win either, but there were so many that caught my eye. 

One of my favorites would be bBlack-ish! I love this show and have always resonated with the costumes because they are so colorful and lively, similar to my personal style. I’m also a huge pop culture fan, and costume designer Michelle Cole does a great job portraying those references in her work!  

I also adored Analucia McGorty’s work on Pose. Similar to black-ish, the costumes are exuberant. They tell a story and are full of character and personality. From angel wings and roses to fringes and feathers, it’s impossible not to love them! 

Euphoria is excellent as always. Heidi Bivens captures Gen Z perfectly and manages to stay on top of trends and set new ones simultaneously. 

And lastly, The Politician stood out to me because of its unique take on business-wear. Business attire in the political climate can be monotonous, but Claire Parkinson introduced pastels, neons, and bold patterns.   

Spencer: Jada, you and I tend to favorite the same shows and today was no exception. Now I would love to hear from Candice. You are quite a fan of contemporary costuming! What were some of your favorites this year?

Candice: I am excited about this category because they are all great and different. Michelle Cole is brilliant, and I still stand by what I said last year; I wish I were as cool as her and the characters she designs. I  also loved The Politician and how their costumes and the evolution from season 1 to 2.  

Hacks was also great. I loved the patterns, sparkle, and Kathleen Felix-Hager’s take on luxury leisure. The costumes throughout could have easily stolen the scenes, but instead, they added additional layers to the character Deborah, played by Jean Smart

I would say, though, that I am particularly excited about Meghan Kasperlik’s costumes in Mare of Easttown (which also stars Jean Smart). I think costumes in shows like Mare of Easttown are often overlooked when it comes to awards for costumes.

Spencer: All brilliant choices!  I have to say, this is such a strong category. I have so many favorites. Quite difficult, really! However, I am a big fan of Analucia McGorty and her work on Pose. Pose was such a monumental, groundbreaking show and Analucia understood the assignment. Every costume was so detailed and fully realized. She brought the 80’s/90s ballroom scene to life, giving this story such color and vibrancy – while also delivering on a very important message that ever human on Earth should hear.

At the same time, I just love Michelle Cole. Her work on black-ish has been remarkable, and the episode “Our Wedding Dre” was just so beautiful. I would love to see her take the Emmy! It’s long overdue!

A surprise to me was Mare of Easttown. At first sight, the costumes might seem a bit drab. But once I started to watch the show, I realized how brilliant a storyteller costume designer Meghan Kasperlik was. She brought such a feeling of authenticity to these characters and this setting. I was so impressed and it reminded how much power contemporary costume design really has in terms of storytelling. Brilliant work!

Spencer: Thank you both for joining me. Before you leave, any tv show recommendations?

Jada: Thank you for having us. I enjoyed this discussion! On top of these brilliant shows, there are a few I’d love to share. If you’re into drama, I’d recommend watching A Million Little Things, This Is Us, and Rebel. A Million Little Things is incredibly heartwarming as it follows a group of friends while they deal with life after losing their friend. This Is Us is beautifully written and it centers around the Pearson family as they deal with the loss of their father.  And Rebel, even though it was unfortunately canceled, served as a symbol of women’s empowerment and inspired so many people, including me, to stand up for others and fight for justice. 

Of course, if you like romance and/or reality television, I highly suggest watching the Bachelor Franchise, including The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and the Bachelor in Paradise. They’re all filled with drama, never-ending surprises, and unforgettable moments. And you can join Bachelor Nation on Twitter as we share memes and tweet all night long when the episodes air!

Candice: I agree with Jada; I loved the Rebel. I watched too much TV and could probably talk for hours about recommendations, but Cruel Summer was a stand out. Costume Designer Taneia Lednicky’s 90s costumes were terrific. The story covers three different summers and how the characters changed from 93, 94, and 95. Those transitions appear effortless in every episode. 

While I am still upset that The Bold Type completed its final season, I recommend it for anyone who hasn’t watched. However, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect Costume Designer, Mandi Line, to complete the final season. I am also a huge fan of Salvador Perez, so season 2 of Never Have I Ever is also on my recommendation list. 

Spencer: Well Ill be honest, my favorite show right now is Naked and Afraid XL… so I guess there aren’t a lot of costumes. Thank you all for joining me!

Vote For Your Favorite Contemporary Costumes Below!

WandaVision: Costumes and First Impressions

August 23rd just passed, so you know what that means…it’s WandaVision time! Now brace yourself because this may come as a shock, but I must confess that I’ve never seen WandaVision. I know it’s a shame. Even my little 6-year-old cousin has watched it and talks about how great it is. So I decided to turn my embarrassment into a fun article!

For context, WandaVision is a sitcom-style show centered around two Avengers: Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen), also known as Scarlet Witch, and Vision (played by Paul Bettany). After getting married, Wanda and Vision move to a suburban area where they attempt to conceal their superhero identity and blend in with the rest of the “normal” community — or so they think. In this premiere episode that we’ll be talking about, titled “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience,” Wanda and Vision see that their calendar is marked with a heart for August 23rd. Wanda and Vision can’t remember what special event is happening, and they continue throughout their day trying to figure out what it is.

WandaVision has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, specifically for this episode, so I thought it’d be cool to share my first thoughts and impressions of some of the costumes and, after further research, see if it connected to costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo’s actual thought process while creating them.

Wanda’s Costumes

It’s important to note that this episode takes place all in one day. First impression: The first costume that Wanda is seen wearing is a stunning wedding gown as she and Vision are moving into their new home. It’s also in black and white, so it’s hard to tell what exact color each costume is, but I tried to imagine what color they were, and for this one, I came up with white. As soon as I saw this dress, I couldn’t help but notice the shape. It has your typical voluminous skirt, but from the waist up, the silhouette resembles a trapezoid, reminding me of the style of clothes from the 1950s. Combined with her tight curls and pearl necklace, I believe that the 1950s inspired Rubeo.  

Wanda has the most outfits in this episode, sporting three more costumes I call: the kitchen dress, the lingerie gown, and the fancy bow dress. Wanda wears the kitchen dress for a while, specifically around the house while Vision is at work and when their new neighbor, Agnes (played by Kathryn Hahn), comes over to welcome her. At first, I thought this dress was one entire piece, including the apron-like piece, which I assumed was attached to it. It also gave me 1950s-inspired vibes, especially with the A-line skirt and outline of the collar and sleeves. As for the color, I imagined that the main dress was pastel yellow and the apron was white.  

Now let’s step away from the 1950s for a little bit and travel back to the 1920s-1930s. That’s the period I thought of when I first saw the lingerie gown, which I also assumed was white. While Vision is at work, Agnes comes over and chats with Wanda for a while. Wanda and Agnes conclude that the day is special because it’s Wanda and Vision’s anniversary (even though they don’t have one) and decides to treat Vision to a special night.

After a classic sitcom miscommunication on the phone, Wanda comes downstairs to greet Vision in this intimate look, only to find out that it’s not their anniversary but the day where Vision’s boss Mr. Hart (played by Fred Melamed and Mr. Hart’s wife (played by Debra Jo Rupp) are coming over for dinner. Wanda is surprised by the sight of Mr. and Mrs. Hart and quickly closes the plunging neckline.

The dress has a different shape and looks from the first two dresses, stepping away from the shapely silhouette and bringing more movement and flow to the costume. It seems like it was inspired by the glamourous Old Hollywood, mainly because of the fur on her cuffs. It also looks like Marilyn Monroe had some influence on the costume, looking similar to Monroe’s infamous white dress with the plunging neckline. This revealing gown is the complete opposite of the conservative style of the 1950s, which she quickly changes to with the snap of her fingers as soon as Vision explains to her what’s going on. 

Wanda finishes off the rest of the episode wearing an off-the-shoulder dress, the same shape as the wedding and kitchen dress. It has a bow in the front, and I imagined that it’s pastel pink. This happens to be the part where I learned that the apron-like piece on the kitchen dress wasn’t attached to it because Wanda can be seen wearing the apron with this dress. This dress, along with the lingerie dress, were my top two favorite costumes of this episode!

The Truth: It turns out that the 1950s inspired Rubeo in this episode! As the show progresses, each episode takes on a different decade and pulls from popular sitcoms of each period. According to an interview with FIDM Museum Associate Joanna Abijaoude, Rubeo states that the director Matt Shakman and the creators of WandaVision already knew what sitcoms each era was going to be based on. The team was influenced by The Dick Van Dyke Show I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch (which I watch every Sunday), and Bewitched, all of the 1950s and 60s. Rubeo grew up watching these sitcoms in Spanish, so she was already familiar with them!  

She also talks about how Wanda’s wedding dress was inspired by a late 1950s movie called Funny Face. Rubeo wanted to portray Wanda as actress Audrey Hepburn, and she did an outstanding job! Wanda’s wedding dress has the same structure and trapezoid shape as Hepburn’s.

As for the kitchen and fancy bow dress, I was incorrect about them being inspired by the 1950s. The dresses were based on the 1960s, as mentioned by Rubeo in an interview with the Gold Derby editor Rob Licuria. Rubeo talks about the process behind the kitchen and fancy bow dress and her relationship with vintage fabric, stating, “I’m a huge fan of using real vintage fabric when you’re creating a vintage costume. And that helps a lot when you’re making something with the real fabric. It’s going to fall in the same way that you imagine or stays in the same way that you imagine, like the 60s dresses for Wanda when we got the housewife dress and the dinner dress, and they were made with the wonderful vintage fabric. It makes a difference.”  

Something that I also got wrong was the color of the costumes. With the kitchen dress, it wasn’t yellow as I imagined. It’s mint-colored with a beautiful pastel yellow, green, and white apron. Rubeo mentioned to Licuria that this particular costume almost blended with the set of the show. She had to work closely with the production design team to ensure that costumes didn’t disappear in the background. For this specific dress, she ended up having to outline the collar on the dress, which is where the black outline came from.

Since the show is in black and white, Rubeo used a very creative technique to get the costume colors just right on the screen – mainly to avoid that from happening again. She would take a picture of the fabric using her phone and put it on the monochrome filter, which gave her the same shade of gray that you would see on the screen.   

Along with the kitchen dress, the party dress also isn’t what I thought it was. There wasn’t much information about the lingerie dress or if it had any exact inspiration, but I was able to confirm that it’s white! It was also mint-colored but made with a vintage taffeta fabric from India, staying true to Rubeo’s belief of using vintage materials.

Vision’s Costumes

First impression: Vision’s costumes were the complete opposite of Wanda’s. His suits looked darker, almost as if the costume designers wanted there to be a stark contrast between the two. It’s important to note that since Vision is a robot and needs to hide his identity, he transforms into a human several times throughout the episode, which is why it may seem as though two different figures are wearing the exact same outfit.

Vision wears his first suit only in the sitcom-style introduction as he and Wanda are first moving into their new home after getting married. What’s very interesting about the suit (which I assumed was gray) is the pattern. It didn’t give me a 1950s feel, but it made me believe that there was some modern influence.

The next suit, however, did remind me of the 1950s. Vision wears this suit for the rest of the episode, including while he’s at work and when he comes home for dinner. There didn’t appear to be a pattern on this suit, but I also assumed that it was gray. The tie was also unique. It had a rectangle with two dots inside and one dot outside of the rectangle on each side. I’m not sure what it represented, but I feel it was significant to him being a superhero. I also thought it was funny how Vision wears Wanda’s apron while trying to help her cook dinner. It challenged the stereotypical ideals of the 1950s. What a nice touch!

The Truth: I guessed the costume right again! Both Vision’s wedding suit and work suit were gray. And although I didn’t guess the colors of the ties, the work suit tie turned out to be burgundy. Not much has been said about the possible superhero design, but it matched the tie that the Vision POP! figure wears, and there have also been speculations about ties to Doctor Strange 2

Along with Doctor Strange, Vision’s costumes have connections to other shows as well. As mentioned with Wanda’s costumes, Rubeo was influenced by many sitcoms, including I Love Lucy. There is a significant reference from I Love Lucy where Vision cooks and wears Wanda’s apron while she’s in the main room entertaining Mr. and Mrs. Hart. In the episode of I Love Lucy titled “Job Switching,” Lucy’s husband Ricky and his best friend Fred switch roles with Lucy and her best friend Ethel after arguing over whether earning money or being a housewife is harder. In one specific scene, Ricky and Fred can both be seen wearing aprons while cooking in the kitchen, which perfectly mirrors Vision’s scene in WandaVision.  I love these references! Long with Doctor Strange,  Vision’s costumes have connections to other shows as well.

Agnes’s Costumes  

First impression: I don’t know what this dress is, but it perfectly describes Agnes’ character. Agnes is Wanda and Vision’s new neighbor. She and Wanda first meet when she comes over to welcome Wanda to the neighborhood. The bold plaid pattern perfectly aligns with her personality as she’s very outgoing, nosy, funny, and loves to gossip. She also wears what looks like a black belt. Even though this is Agnes’ only look, she doesn’t seem like a person who would wear very bright colors or anything similar to Wanda’s style.

With that, I assumed that this dress was either black and white or navy blue and white. When she returns later on the episode to deliver a pineapple for their upside-down cake, she wears what I assume is a black capelet. This dress has the same silhouette as Wanda’s wedding, lingerie, and fancy bow dress, so I felt the 1950s inspired this look.

The Truth: I was thrilled to see Rubeo’s process behind Agnes’ costume because it was very similar to what I guessed! Agnes’ dress is darker, just as I imagined. According to the same interview with Joanna Abijaoude, Rubeo states that she made Agnes have very strong contrast in comparison to Wanda and that she “made it [the contrast] in a subliminal way so when she knocks on the door, and you see this like powerful contrast, it’s ominous that this person is not going to bring out peaceful contribution.” It’s so fascinating how Rubeo conveyed the specific energy or mood just by their clothes. And the fact that she does so without the audience even being able to see the actual colors of their costumes is incredible. 

One aspect of her outfit that I did completely miss, though, was Agnes’ medallion. Rubeo was asked about any hidden easter eggs or details in the costumes of WandaVision that she could tell everyone about to which she says is the medallion. Rubeo mentioned that she designed and created the medallion intending to hint into the future of Agnes’ character, stating that, “The medallion is a classic cameo medallion, and it has a figure of two ladies. Usually, this kind of medallion portrays the three graces in life. But if you look closer, these three ladies are burning. They’re at the stake, and this represents the three witches that she was burning with.”

Later in the season, Agnes turns out to be Agatha Harkness, a powerful Marvel witch.  Rubeo’s ability to provide that subtle hint and foreshadow is admirable. And what’s even more impressive is that this medallion is in almost every costume that Agnes wears throughout the show, except for an aerobic scene they did; what a well-thought-out detail! That shows how much thought was put into her look.

Ending 

My little cousin was right. This show has won me over. I’m absolutely in love with these costumes and cannot stress enough how extremely talented Mayes C. Rubeo and her team are! I am a huge lover of symbolism and storytelling, and I am in awe of how Rubeo and the entire creative team conveyed that. With television shows and films being full of vibrant colors nowadays, it’s not usual for shows to be black and white. But this was such a unique experience, and being able to imagine each costume and envision what they look like in real life opened my mind and enabled me to be even more creative. If you haven’t seen this show yet, please stream it now on Disney Plus! And for more information on the costumes throughout the entire season, please click here to listen to The Art of Costume Blogcast!


Check out these sources for more on WandaVision!

Bojalad, Alec. “Wandavision: The Sitcom Influences of Episodes 1 and 2.” WandaVision: The Sitcom Influences of Episodes 1 and 2, Den of Geek, 9 Feb. 2021, www.denofgeek.com/tv/wandavision-sitcom-influences-dick-van-dyke/

Chitwood, Adam, and Adam Chitwood (15911 Articles Published) . “See How ‘Wandavision’ Was Filmed in Front of a Live Audience in New Featurette.” See How ‘WandaVision’ Was Filmed in Front of a Live Audience in New Featurette, 15 Jan. 2021, collider.com/how-wandavision-was-filmed-in-front-of-an-audience-explained/. 

FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Creating The Costumes of WandaVision, With Costume Designer Mayes C. RubeoYouTube, YouTube, 24 June 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZNQeTX2JRs&t=33s

Howard, Kirsten. “Wandavision May Have Already Shown Us Its Doctor Strange 2 Connection.” Den of Geek, Den of Geek, 18 Jan. 2021, http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/wandavision-doctor-strange-villain-theory/.

The Costume Designers Guild. “Design through Time: The Costumes of Mayes C. Rubeo.” YouTube, YouTube, 24 July 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSVwYS6jS5A&t=400s