Interview with Mare of Easttown Costume Designer Meghan Kasperlik

When it comes to contemporary costume design, people quickly think of a business consisting of nothing but shopping and pulling together rolling racks of clothes from everyday stores. While these elements are, of course, a part of the process, contemporary costume design has every motive to be a strong proponent of storytelling. The HBO limited series Mare of Easttown with costumes designed by 2021 Emmy-Nominee Meghan Kasperlik is proof of the vast potential of storytelling through contemporary costume design. I had the chance to dive into the process of costuming Easttown in a interview with Mare of Easttown costume designer Meghan Kasperlik – now live on The Art of Costume Blogcast.

Featured Image: Kate Winslet as Detective Mare Sheehan – Photo Credit: Michele K. Short /HBO

“This one is extra special to me because I am really excited that people are seeing the storytelling of costume, and it’s not just about having a fashion moment in a contemporary costume. It’s actually the authenticity of the characters and costumes that really elevated the storytelling. It’s really exciting that people recognize that!”

Meghan Kasperlik – The Art of Costume Blogcast
Kate Winslet and Jean Smart in Mare of Easttown – Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz / HBO

The costumes seen in Mare of Easttown are rightfully gaining a lot of praise for their authenticity and loyalty to the genuine natures of small-town Pennsylvania. While these costumes are nominated within the Outstanding Contemporary Costumes, they still have the transportive energy of any period or fantasy costume. Any lover of costume and fashion would see the dedication and thought costume designer Meghan Kasperlik put into each costume. It was evident Meghan took many traits of these characters into consideration, such as who these characters are, their jobs, and their roles in this town each day.

“It was very important that all of the costumes really looked authentic, and that they looked lived in, and that maybe this person picked it off the floor and smelled it and thought, “Oh, it’s fine today, I can wear it one more time!” Meghan continues to say, “This specific show was really meant to be, who are these characters, what happens in a day to these people, and they don’t change their clothes. It was really about how lived in we can make these characters.”

Meghan Kasperlik – The Art of Costume Blogcast

Part of Meghan Kasperlik’s research process included visiting a Wawa, a convenience store and gas station commonly located along the East Coast of the United States. She observed locals and noted what they were wearing, what they brought with them, what they bought, and how they bought it.

Julianne Nicholson as Lori Ross – Photo Credit: Michele K. Short / HBO

Then, of course, it came down to the ultimate task, costuming the main character of the series, Mare Sheehan. The brilliant Kate Winslet played Mare. One might ask, how can you go about transforming one of the most famous, well-loved actresses on the planet, known for their beauty and charismatic energy.  Fortunately for Meghan, Kate was all in when it came to the transformation, accepting the wig, laying in eyebrows, and of course, Mare’s wardrobe. 

Everything about Mare’s wardrobe was intentional, from the muted colors to the layers of clothes Mare hid under. It was imperative to Meghan that Mare’s wardrobe portrayed “a woman who would maybe buy new clothes when she felt it was necessary, but otherwise it would be a jeans and a t-shirt situation.” Mare often wore a Filson jacket, which Meghan referred to as Mare’s “suit of armor.” Adamant that Mare would never be seen with a handbag, Meghan designed Mare’s wardrobe to be about layering. 

Kate Winslet as Detective Mare Sheehan – Photo Credit: Michele K. Short /HBO

The attention to detail by Meghan Kasperlik and her crew was beyond impressive. I loved the color palettes, aging and dying, the layering, and of course, the use of graphic tees and local band t-shirts. We talked about the authenticity of the costuming, designing Mare’s wardrobe, and the costumes for some of our favorite characters such as  Detective Colin Zabel, Siobhan Sheehan, and of course Helen Fahey, played by Jean Smart! What is not to love? I could talk about Meghan Kasperlik and costuming Easttown forever, but why listen to me when you could just hear from the designer herself? Fortunately, Meghan joined me on a special bonus episode of The Art of Costume Blogcast.

For the full interview with Mare of Easttown costume designer Meghan Kasperlik – Listen below or head to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen!

Interview with Pose Costume Designer Analucia McGorty

In the second bonus episode of The Art of Costume Blogcast, Spencer Williams (Co-Host, Associate Producer) sits down for an interview with Pose costume designer Analucia McGorty to talk about the groundbreaking hit FX television series, Pose. Analucia McGorty is a 2021 Emmy Nominee in the Outstanding Contemporary Costumes category. Learn about Analucia’s journey from wardrobe production assistant to lead costume designer, Mj Rodriguez’s Lead Actress Emmy™ nomination, designing over-the-top costumes for Elektra, working with consultants, the research process, and the fairy tale wedding for Angel and Lil Papi.

In the interview, Spencer asked Analucia why she thought costume design was necessary. In response, Analucia talked about why she felt the role of the costume designer is so valuable and should be recognized.

“Costume design is storytelling. A lot of actors and directors talk about not really seeing the story or the character until they see the actor in their full wardrobe, hair, and makeup. We are the ones who help create that space. It’s not just words. It’s not just emotion. It’s not just lighting or camera work… it’s how the person looks in the environment. What we do is important, and we should be valued as artists..”

Analucia McGorty

This interview with Pose Costume Designer Analucia McGorty is now live, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find podcasts available.

Photos Courtesy of FX Networks

Dominique Jackson as Elektra. Photos courtesy of FX Networks

Heroes & Villains: The Art Of The Disney Costume

 Costumes in the Heroes Section of the MoPOP’s newest exhibition, Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume

I am beyond excited to share with you all an exciting new exhibition of fabulous costuming to visit this summer! Previously, only Disney’s D23 Expo attendees were given a chance to see the Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibition. Now, you too have an opportunity to immerse yourself in this brilliant collection of more than 70 original pieces spanning more than 6,000 square feet of museum space!

In Seattle, Washington, The Museum of Pop Culture, in collaboration with the Walt Disney Archives, is currently hosting the new exhibition, Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume, open now to the public until April 17, 2022. 

I was granted the opportunity to visit the exhibition this month, and I was absolutely thrilled. The exhibition walks you through a magical world of costumes, highlighting some costumes seen on some of our most favorite heroes, and villains too! Some pieces you will see are fresher in memory,  such as pieces from 2019’s Dumbo, designed by Colleen Atwood. Other costumes are a brilliant blast from the past, such as the oldest costume on display, Mary Poppins’ traveling dress designed by Bill Thomas and worn by Julie Andrews in the 1964 film. Stepping up to each platform was a real thrill as there was no telling which costume you would encounter next.

Costumes worn by (left to right) Emily Blunt and Julie Andrews from Mary Poppins Returns (2018) and Mary Poppins (1964)

“Costuming is an essential element of storytelling, and Heroes & Villains exemplifies the richness of character we hope our films portray. It has been thrilling to collaborate with MoPOP’s curators to bring a selection of the stunning pieces we have at the Walt Disney Archives to Seattle.”

Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives.

Some of the first costumes you meet upon entry that instantly took my breath away belonged to Brandy and Whitney Houston. That’s right, we are talking about costumes from the film Cinderella, with costumes designed by Ellen Mirojnick. I mean, what a moment! We all know and love the costumes, but there is something magical about seeing Whitney Houston’s Fairy Godmother dress in person!

As I made my way through the exhibit, I was stunned to come face to face with The Sanderson Sisters. Well, not flesh and blood, but their costumes were there for all to see! The three witches’ dresses from Hocus Pocus (1993) worn by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy — all designed by Mary Vogt — plus the vacuum! This, to me, is worth the price of admission alone!

Costumes worn by (left, right, middle) Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Bette Midler from Hocus Pocus (1993), Costumes designed by Mary Vogt Photo Credit: MoPOP/ © Disney

I was extremely pleased to come into contact with one of my all-time favorite costumes—the legendary Queen Narissa dress from Enchanted worn by Susan Sarandon, designed by my friend, Mona May. Honestly, I felt a bit emotional once I realized this dress was here. Somebody, please pinch me! There is SO much detail in this piece; I am not sure I can explain the beauty – you must see it for yourself. The colors and dragon scale textures are a sight to behold.

Look, I don’t want to give away all the surprises, but as a community, we have been talking a lot about the brilliant costumes of 2021’s Cruella, designed by Jenny Beavan. So I was blown away when I realized that costumes worn by THE Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians were there! If you are sharing in the Cruella de Vil love right now, then you are going to be excited to see multiple costumes of past Cruellas.

Aside from everything I shared with you, expect to see work from 19 different designers, 11 of whom are Oscar® winners and nominees: Colleen Atwood, Jenny Beavan, Jacqueline Durran, Anthony Powell, Sandy Powell, Bill Thomas, Paco Delgado, Gary Jones, Jeffrey Kurland, Judianna Makovsky, and Anna Sheppard.

As much as I would love to talk about every single costume (you know I would) with you all, part of the magic of this exhibit is rediscovering some of your favorite Disney costumes you have come to love over the years. Every color, textile, and sketch filled me with such joy and loving memories that only can be tapped by the power of Disney. So please, lovers of costume and Disney, take me up on this advice and run, don’t walk to the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington, to see Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibition.


Click here to purchase tickets to MoPOP and the Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney exhibition

WHERE:
Museum of Pop Culture
325 5th Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

WHEN:
Open through April 17, 2022

MoPOP Regular Summer Hours (beginning May 27): Every Day 10:00am-6:00pm

TICKETS:
Special exhibition fee of $6 + general museum admission
MoPOP Members: this special exhibition is included with membership with no additional fees (more at: www.MoPOP.org/membership)

The 2021 Emmy Nominations – Outstanding Costumes

I am so beyond excited to share with you all the complete 2021 Emmy Nominations – Outstanding Costumes list. There is so much talent within this list, including many great friends of The Art of Costume! Congratulations to all of the talented costume designers, assistant costume designers, costume supervisors, and the countless crewmembers worldwide that helped bring these brilliant projects come to life.

Tune in Sunday, September 19 for the 73rd Emmy Awards hosted by Cedric the Entertainer on CBS and Paramount+.


2021 Emmy Nominations – Outstanding Costumes

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes

The Handmaid’s Tale • Nightshade • Hulu • Hulu, MGM, Daniel Wilson Productions, The Littlefield Company, White Oak
Pictures

Debra Hanson, Costume Designer
Jane Flanders, Costume Supervisor
Darci Cheyne, Assistant Costume Designer

Lovecraft Country • I Am. • HBO • HBO in association with afemme, Monkeypaw, Bad Robot, and Warner Bros. Television

Dayna Pink, Costume Designer
Zachary Sheets, Costume Supervisor
Terry Anderson, Assistant Costume Designer

The Mandalorian • Chapter 13: The Jedi • Disney+ • Lucasfilm Ltd.

Shawna Trpcic, Costume Designer
Julie Robar, Costume Supervisor
Sara Fox, Assistant Costume Designer

The Umbrella Academy • The Frankel Footage • Netflix • UCP for Netflix

Christopher Hargadon, Costume Designer
Heather Crepp, Assistant Costume Designer William Ng, Assistant Costume Designer
Jane Fieber, Costume Supervisor

WandaVision • Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience • Disney+ • Marvel Studios

Mayes C. Rubeo, Costume Designer
Joseph Feltus, Assistant Costume Designer
Daniel Selon, Assistant Costume Designer
Virginia Burton, Costume Supervisor

Outstanding Contemporary Costumes

black-ish • Our Wedding Dre • ABC • ABC Signature

Michelle R. Cole, Costume Designer
Juliann M. Smith DeVito, Costume Supervisor

Euphoria • F**k Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob • HBO • HBO in association with Reasonable Bunch, A24, Little Lamb, Dreamcrew, ADD Content Agency | HOT | Tedy Productions

Heidi Bivens, Costume Designer
Devon Patterson, Costume Supervisor
Angelina Vitto, Assistant Costume Designer

Hacks • There Is No Line (Pilot) • HBO Max • Universal Television in association with Paulilu, First Thought Productions,
Fremulon Productions, 3 Arts Entertainment

Kathleen Felix-Hager, Costume Designer
Karen Bellamy, Costume Supervisor

I May Destroy You • Social Media Is A Great Way To Connect • HBO • HBO in association with BBC, Various Artists Limited, FALKNA

Lynsey Moore, Costume Designer
Rosie Lack, Assistant Costume Designer
Debbie Roberts, Costume Supervisor

Mare Of Easttown • Miss Lady Hawk Herself • HBO • HBO in association with wiip Studios, The Low Dweller Productions,
Juggle Productions, Mayhem and Zobot Projects

Meghan Kasperlik, Costume Designer
Francisco Stoll, Costume Supervisor
Taylor Smith, Costume Supervisor
Laura Downing, Costume Supervisor
Jennifer Hryniw, Assistant Costume Designer

The Politician • New York State Of Mind • Netflix • A Fox21 Television Studios Production for Netflix

Claire Parkinson, Costume Designer
Lily Parkinson, Assistant Costume Designer
James Hammer, Assistant Costume Designer
Laura Steinmann, Costume Supervisor

Pose • Series Finale • FX Networks • FX Productions in association with 20th Century Television

Analucia McGorty, Costume Designer
Michelle Roy, Assistant Costume Designer
Linda Giammarese, Costume Supervisor

Bridgerton • Diamond Of The First Water • Netflix • A Netflix Original Series in association with shondalandmedia

Ellen Mirojnick, Costume Designer
John W. Glaser III, Costume Designer
Sanaz Missaghian, Costume Supervisor
Kenny Crouch, Costume Supervisor

The Crown • Terra Nullius • Netflix • Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television for Netflix

Amy Roberts, Costume Designer
Sidonie Roberts, Assistant Costume Designer
Giles Gale, Costume Supervisor

Halston • Versailles • Netflix • A Netflix Original Series

Jeriana San Juan, Costume Designer
Catherine Crabtree, Assistant Costume Designer
Cailey Breneman, Assistant Costume Designer
Anne Newton-Harding, Costume Supervisor


The Queen’s Gambit • End Game • Netflix • Netflix

Gabriele Binder, Costume Designer
Gina Krauss, Assistant Costume Designer
Katrin Hoffmann, Assistant Costume Designer
Nanrose Buchmann, Assistant Costume Designer
Sparka Lee Hall, Costume Supervisor

Ratched • Pilot • Netflix • A Fox21 Television Studios Production for Netflix

Lou Eyrich, Costume Designer
Rebecca Guzzi, Costume Designer
Allison Agler, Assistant Costume Designer
Betsy Glick, Costume Supervisor

The Costumes of Game of Thrones – The Iron Anniversary

Spencer: On April 17, 2011, the very first episode of Game of Thrones premiered. We are gathered here today to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Game of Thrones, The Iron Anniversary. Game of Thrones has won numerous awards throughout its run, including 59 Emmy Awards, eight Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. Game of Thrones has the most Emmy nominations for a drama series with 161 nominations. Still on the topic of Emmys, Game of Thrones was also nominated for seven Emmys within the costume design category, with four wins. The costumes of Game of Thrones remain LEGENDARY!

Spencer: I’m excited to have two members of The Art of Costume team here with me, Elizabeth Glass and Mariana Sandoval. Welcome, you two!

Elizabeth: Hello everyone! This is so exciting. I can’t wait to get started and talk Game of Thrones with you two. 

Mariana: Hi Spencer and Elizabeth! I am so happy to join you for this Game of Thrones piece

Spencer: So let’s jump right into it. It’s been ten years since the premiere of Game of Thrones. My first question for each of you, what are your thoughts when you hear the phrase… “10th Anniversary”?

Elizabeth: It feels weird because it seems like I just saw the pilot for the first time yesterday. When I started watching this in high school with my family, it was the show we watched together every week as it aired. Then I went to college, and it became the show I watched with my friends; we bonded over it. Looking back on it, I feel like I grew up with the show and the person who watched the finale is not the same person who watched the pilot.  

Mariana: It feels so long ago. I watched it in different places, with different people, at different times of my life. I’m picturing myself here in Toronto two years ago with a friend, running through themed bars so we could watch the live episodes… It’s also amazing how we have grown with the characters and watching them back in Season 1. Arya and Bran were so young! It’s kind of a similar feeling that I had with Harry Potter, but with Game of Thrones, it is way stronger. 

Spencer: It’s like each episode brings back a particular memory. Oh, I remember where I was or what I was eating when that happened. It takes you back; I miss it! Game of Thrones is like family to me. I feel like all of my best friends in life were made over a connection to Game of Thrones.

The costumes for Game of Thrones, in my opinion, are some of the best TV costumes of all time.  As a whole, what are your thoughts on the costumes?

Mariana: Actually, the costumes of Game of Thrones were the ones that clicked; I wanted to do costumes for Film and TV. When I was in fashion school, one of my friends was surveying your favorite fashion designer, and my answer was Michele Clapton. Of course, my friends were like, “who the hell is this woman?” hahaha… So, yeah, this was when I realized that this was a job, that she did this for a living. I was like, “Oh my goodness, she’s perfect. I want to do whatever she’s doing”. So, working on this article was very inspiring. It felt like going back to the roots of how all this crazy costume design dream began; it is significant for me. 

Elizabeth: I love that they build a whole different world with distinct cultures and costumes that don’t exist, but they make them feel so real. It reminds me a lot of what The Lord of the Rings did to bring interest into the fantasy genre. However, they did that not by creating these extravagant or ethereal designs that are something out of this world like a lot of fantasy does. They grounded it in the realities of everyday life; you never see anything impractical. Every piece has a purpose, and all the costumes mean something to show and create the cultures and world they’re meant to inhabit.

Spencer: I almost feel the same as Mariana. I won’t say Game of Thrones brought me into costumes, but I think it laid the foundation the whole time, and I didn’t know it. I remember back in the day when those crazy news articles were coming out about the use of IKEA rugs. It blew my mind; Michele Clapton’s work on this show is just brilliant. I feel like the whole time, the show was setting a foundation for me to move into costumes before I knew it, but Game of Thrones knew it. Cersei Lannister was serving looks that would inspire me for the rest of my life.

It’s time to get started; as I mentioned, there’s a lot of great costuming in Game of Thrones. Let’s celebrate the 10th anniversary by discussing our favorite costumes. In preparation for this article, I asked you both to think of your favorite costume from each season. Let’s take turns and go season by season and talk about our favorite looks.

Elizabeth:  I’m so excited about this. I had so many options it was hard to choose just one each season. 


The Costumes of Season 1

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Spencer: I’ll start us off with season one, the pilot season. This is the season where we meet each of the three primary houses. We meet the Stark children for the first time and the shocking relationship between the Lannisters.

I love Cersei’s looks in season one because, if you notice, when she starts, she was wearing pastel, bleached colors. While the silhouettes were extravagant, her colors were relatively muted. This first look I picked is one of her brighter outfits. When you first meet her, Cersei is just King Robert Baratheon’s wife. Cersei looks uncomfortable, like she is trapped in a life she doesn’t want. She wears green and blue, which is just not the Cersei that we all know. Once Robert dies, that is when the red starts to kick in. It kind of starts as this bleached red, but as we get into the later seasons, it becomes full crimson and gold. As soon as she breaks free from Roberts’s stranglehold, color comes back to her clothing as she gets closer to world domination.

Elizabeth: So my first design is going to be Sansa.

Spencer: I knew it!

Elizabeth: Yes, it’s the dress that she wears to her first tournament in the show.

When she’s just getting to the south but is still wearing all of her dresses from home in the North, she clearly hasn’t gotten a new wardrobe that’s up to date with the capital’s fashion. I like this because it starts her whole character journey from a very innocent place. She’s just little Sansa, who wants to be pretty and marry a rich prince; that’s all she wants. She is innocent, and this gown reflects that with the rosettes along the front and lavender color. I also love this because, as I was saying before, they add those details specific to the North’s culture that you don’t see anywhere else in the series. 

The flowers are these chunky appliques that look like they’re made out of a heavier material like wool or something because they need to keep themselves warm in the North. So obviously any decoration on their clothes will also be heavy; I thought that was interesting. I missed it as the series went on because it’s only northern ladies dressing this way. That’s one of my favorite looks just because it’s like, oh, this is the North, their culture and little sense of being obnoxious but innocent. I like the floor because it’s almost like it reminds me of a rose that’s covered in snow, almost like it’s this quilting kind of rose. It has little beads falling off it, almost like rain; that’s beautiful. I’m astonished by the detail because that doesn’t even show up on the screen; you don’t see that in the show. 

Mariana: Okay, so I’ll say that one of my favorites is Joffrey Baratheon’s costume in the scene when Ned Stark is going to be beheaded. There’s a lot of power in his character, and his costume is fully supporting that. There is a clear relation between his costume and Cersei’s; they have the same embroidered lion on the sides as a Lannister symbol. Also, he has an antler’s pin as the Baratheon staple.

In a lot of the men’s costumes, we see doublets and armors, so Michele created a doublet much more modern as a cape with straight lines that make him look elegant and empowered, as the young king he is. I also loved the textile they used. So, from the men’s costumes from this season, I think this one is a winner, also because I know we will be talking a lot about the costumes worn by the ladies, so I just wanted to point out this one as a great costume. 

Spencer: I never really got a closer look at this costume before. Looking at the shape of this, it’s crazy good. Obviously, this is a chaotic scene where the presumed main character gets his head chopped off so it’s kind of hard to focus on the costumes so I am glad you picked this one.

Elizabeth: I know, I love that.

Mariana: I also love how Cersei is just like putting the Lannister stamp all over him. When we see them both standing together, you can tell that something will happen with these evil characters, haha. 

Spencer: What do you call what he is wearing? I mean, it’s a cape, but what’s the accurate term for it?

Mariana: Well, yeah, I think I would call it a cape. As I mentioned before, it looks like it evolved from a doublet. And in the medieval fashions, they used kirtles which were kind of long vests with openings on the sides, and then underneath, you will have a shirt. Back then, when people showed the garments they wore underneath, it was a synonym of wealth, so I think that’s what Michele was trying to do with this garment. 

Spencer: You are such an expert, Mariana!

The Costumes of Season 2

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Elizabeth:  In Season 2, we introduce more of the families and their complex lives, and witness the beginning of the conflict of houses along with the crazy lengths they’re going to in order to grab power. So I have to go with Melisandre. 

Spencer: I just have to say, Melisandre is who I associate Elizabeth with… always!

Elizabeth: That’s because of that one dress I have, that’s all.

Spencer: For the audience, one time we went out, and Elizabeth was wearing all red… Red dress, red heels, red lipstick. Elizabeth knew the night was dark and full of terrors. I’m a fan.

Elizabeth: Yeah yeah, so I love Melisandre. She’s just so different from everyone else because everyone else is trying to fit into their house or region of the world, like ‘I’m a fine lady of the South.’ Melisandre is like, I have a mission, my goal is set. I’m just like every single woman when she’s just gorgeous and ready to stand out. I always loved her dress, but I’ve never really liked her necklace. I feel like it’s just kind of out of place, which they explain later on, obviously. But she’s so bold, but then there’s this thing choking her around her neck. I guess that’s because she has this weird destiny.

Spencer: They made it so it’d be more muted so they wouldn’t see it as much because initially, they would use this large diamond but instead went with a more raw type of crystal so it wouldn’t stand out. That being said, it’s pretty noticeable!

Elizabeth: I am a big fan of literally everything else!

Mariana: Okay, so from season two, I’m also going to pick a man; it is Tyrion Lannister. This costume is when he was named Hand of the King. It is basically a doublet with a belt, trousers, and boots. But two things caught my attention, first the intricate detail of the fabric. I guess that’s like leather with a laser-cut pattern, and once again, we can see his undershirt in a burgundy tone. I just loved it so much. And second, this is when his character starts to transform, from being the drunk uncle that no one likes or cares about to the Hand of the King. He starts wearing more “Lannister costumes,” where wealth and power are evident all the time. 

Elizabeth: Yeah, I love seeing these because, honestly, it’s something I never noticed before. With the lighting and the way they shoot it, that detail just kind of fades into the rest of what he’s wearing, but it’s crazy because I’m sure it does make such an impact. And it’s so beautiful; I wish you could see more of it in the show.

Spencer: For season two, I picked Brienne of Tarth. You all thought I was going to pick Cersei, but I didn’t, so… HA! I am a big Brienne fan. I love many of her different armors, but I tried to pick just one, so I went with season two. This is the part of the show where we just barely met Brienne. This is a character who is a lady from the island of Tarth.  But Brienne does not pretend to be a noblewoman like, let’s say, Cersei. Her entire storyline builds up to her becoming commander of the Kingsguard. 

So she’s wearing armor typically built for a man, but I love how Michele Clapton did it. She didn’t want her to have a breastplate that emphasized her body. Instead, she wore male-suited armor, but she created these triangles in the design. The triangle shapes give a more feminine look which I thought was cool. I love the hints of sapphire blue in the armor. Sapphire is the color of the Island of Tarth. As we go further into the show, her armor starts to get bluer and bluer until we get to the very end, when it’s gold once again. 

Elizabeth: Yeah, she’s a great character. She’s always true to herself in every single season. But I love that one because I feel like there she is the most herself before the end. She’s like; I’m here to serve my man or whoever; I guess she’s probably serving Catlin by that point. But she’s very focused and driven.

Spencer: I feel like that comes across because Brienne has a very “no-nonsense” state of mind. She’s here because she has a job to do, and she’s not worried about being in a fashion show for flashiest or sexiest armor. Brienne wears her armor to protect herself while she’s killing anyone that challenges her or her loved ones.

The Costumes of Season 3

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Mariana: Season three showed us not to get attached to any character, and we saw the beginning of the rise of Daenerys Targaryen, which is the character I chose. In this season, she’s conquering and bringing freedom to all these different places. She owns her shit, and she knows how powerful she is and how much good she can do for the world. Daenerys starts wearing trousers and boots mainly to move around and ride her dragons easily, and also, she is wearing long bodices that all have a dragon scale texture. She will carry this along until the end, and I find it so beautiful and thoughtful for storytelling purposes.

I once made something similar in a costume, and I was impressed by how time-costuming but astonishing it ended up looking. To think that she has this textile transformation spread all over her costumes is impressive. She is wearing this costume most of the time with its cape, and it makes her and Missandei look kind of similar in terms of silhouette. They both look stunning.

Elizabeth: I was looking at that the other day; it’s a good one and very her. She’s like, I know what I’m doing. I’m here to free everybody, and I’m the Mother of Dragons, so let’s do this.

Spencer: I love the texture, as you said, the kind of dragon scale type texture up close, which I never really noticed on this particular one, so that’s pretty awesome. Wow, I feel like I’m learning so much today! I’m impressed. For season three, don’t act surprised. I HAVE to go with Cersei one more time.

Elizabeth: It’s who you are, that’s okay…

Spencer: This is one of my favorite looks of the entire series. Cersei Lannister is now basically in control. Joffrey is the king, but Cersei will always be the queen. She’s running this thing, and she looks fantastic. I love this red Crimson color. She’s full Cersei now. She’s got rid of all those dumb Baratheon hairstyles and silly dressed. She now has this metal corset with that matching necklace. Cersei is the boss now.

Elizabeth: I love that you choose this one because it’s kind of like a progression of her paranoia. In the second season, she just wears the armor because they’re under siege, and she has to. In the third season, technically, everything’s fine. Like they’re not under siege anymore, the wars all but over; however, now she’s just so paranoid she has to wear it. 

Spencer: Yeah, she can’t let it go. She’s built up these walls. I don’t think Cersei trusts literally anyone. Not even her child who becomes the king.

Elizabeth: So my season three pick is Sansa’s wedding gown when she’s forced to marry Tyrion. This is the height of her being trapped by the Lanisters, and there’s so much symbolism in it. First off, it’s got like this cross pattern around her chest where it’s like, yeah, you’re not getting out. This is it. But then the detail around it is just so beautiful and brilliant because the embroidery tells her family lineage. First off, she’s a Stark, so there’s a wolf. Then her mother was a Tully, so there’s a little fish. And it goes on all the way around it to the back of her neck where there’s the Lannister lion. It’s the biggest one; they’re basically branding her for everyone to see and say, we own you now because we only want you for your baby so that we can take the North. 

Spencer: Sansa is a sucker for some symbolism in her garments; she loves it. What do you think about the armor? She has this metallic piece on her hips. 

Elizabeth: Yeah, I feel like again that’s probably Cersei’s input of her paranoia because clearly, Sansa did not design this herself; she didn’t ask for it. Everything was just kind of done for her, and she showed up on the day. I feel like that’s just more Cersei being like, yeah, you’re trapped here, so you better armor up because they will be coming after you.  But it’s almost a tool for Cersei to be like, look, we’re bringing together all these kingdoms. The Lannister one is prominent because it’s like Cersei has their hands around Sansa.

The Costumes of Season 4

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Spencer: In season four, the plot thickens as the dangers of politics come to a head. I am very excited about season four because my pick is probably unexpected. So, I picked Oberyn Martell, people probably don’t know, but he’s one of my favorite characters. I also have to do a special shout-out to Ellaria Sand because their costumes work together in a pair. Ellaria is an underrated character, by far! 

Oberyn is known as “The Red Viper.” So if you zoom in on the texture of his brown leather, Michele Clapton uses this black stamping to make it look like a reptilian scale because he’s the Viper. My favorite part, he has a hand shield. It’s made to look like a snake coming down his arm. 

Mariana: Oh, that’s so cool. I never noticed that!  

Elizabeth: Yeah, it’s good. I love these.

Spencer: Then, when it comes to Ellaria, she and Oberyn are always matching. Ellaria brands herself with this signature pointy shoulder piece, which in this show represents power and strength. Ellaria also has that reptilian kind of texture in her costume. So overall, this is one of my all-time favorite costume moments. It’s a shame that this is the final costume we see Oberyn in. I was so crushed when he got…. crushed. I’ll see myself out.

Elizabeth: Good one. All right, my pick for season four it’s kind of like a whole character, Lady Olenna. She is just a badass in her own right, and I find it fascinating because she’s the only older noble lady we ever get to see. She’s the only widow who actually acts like a widow in this kind of world, so it’s really interesting to see how they handle that. For example, you never see her hair. She’s always completely covered, but she always looks so good it’s like, oh, that’s where Margaery gets it from.

She’s house Tyrell through and through with the blue in the gold. And she’s a lot like Brienne where everything is no-nonsense, yes I look good, but you never see anything frilly it’s just beautiful fabric with an excellent cut to it. The rose belts are the most intricate thing you ever see on her, so I just always felt like she was one of the most interesting, dressed because there’s no other like there’s no other old widow, in the show like come on women either die in childbirth or like, go into seclusion after their husbands passing she’s just like no I have family business take care of, I don’t know what you’re worried about

Spencer: Lady Olenna Tyrell is just the best. Unfortunately, Dame Diana Rigg passed away this past September, and we miss her. She was wonderful. The Queen of Thorns was a legend, and she always looked good.

Elizabeth: She was terrific and also, the way she and her grandchildren always have matching fabrics and colors, they look so good. The three of them always represent House Tyrell and knew how to show a united front as a family. 

Mariana: My favorite for this season is Margaery Tyrell’s wedding dress. This dress is just so stunning; she looks absolutely gorgeous like she’s coming from an enchanted forest with her power and ambition. It suits her character and her body perfectly; it is basically a haute couture gown. The roses, which are a staple to the Tyrells, were made by hand, one by one, and attached to her skirt and train, creating this gorgeous cascade. It’s so delicate but at the same time powerful and determined, just like Margaery. She has roses and thorns, like as she was saying “keep out because I am beautiful but dangerous.” 

I actually found a quote from Michele Clapton explaining the concept behind this design:

“I wanted it to be sort of quite traditional dress in a funny way. But then again, roses can be so pretty, and I didn’t want her to be pretty. I wanted her to be slightly dangerous; hence the metal rose vines running along her dress which subtly are spiked with metal thorns if you look closely, showing her danger underneath”.

Michele Clapton, Costume Designer

Spencer: What a contrast compared to Sansa’s wedding dress that Elizabeth just showed us. It’s so interesting that we have these images one after the other because Sansa was very covered up; Margaery is free to wear seemingly whatever she wants.

Mariana: This is the point in the season where Margaery is in control, and Cersei is kind of losing her power to Margaery, which is, you know, a lot of tension and build-up, so I love that. Oh, and I also wanted to add a little thing to this, Joffrey’s crown and Margaery’s tiara both have the Baratheon’s antlers with some roses wrapped around, merging the two families Baratheon and Tyrell. 

The Costumes of Season 5

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Elizabeth: We are now in season five, where new and old threats reveal themselves, putting our strongest characters in challenging positions. Well, surprise, surprise, I choose Sansa’s wedding dress for her wedding with Ramsay Bolton.

Mariana: Okay, I almost picked this one too; it’s gorgeous.

Elizabeth: It’s yet another wedding dress for Sansa because she’s trapped, again by the Boltons, but this time she’s home in the North. But she can’t be home because the people who killed her family are keeping her here. Unlike the Lannisters who are shouting to the world, this is Sansa Stark, and she’s ours; the Boltons are trying to erase who she is while still leveraging her position as the ‘last Stark,’ but that’s all people need to know.

The gown is completely white with very little detail. Because the Boltons don’t want to deal with the fact that they destroyed House Stark or the possible legal situation with her marriage to Tyrion, they are just like, nope, and with the white, she is the perfect virgin, and nothing’s ever happened here. They just don’t want anybody looking into it. They need people to know she’s a Stark to strengthen their claim to the North but also… don’t think about that.

Spencer: Yeah, I love this; it’s so beautiful. Such beauty, found in such a horrible series of scenes.

Mariana: I think those buttons or pins that she has in the front are fish, symbolizing the Tully family, her mother.

Elizabeth: I wondered about that; that’s not like the flayed man. It’s so tiny.

Spencer: I have an excerpt from Michele Clapton about this dress,

“I wanted to incorporate many Stark elements, the first color is an homage to her father and her older brothers, both of whom were close of similar colleagues that went to fill the fish class that closed again are influenced by her mother, the spectre white color represents the ghost of her family so many of whom she has lost by this time again was made from a heavy upholstery fabric and lace up the back, the lacing along the spine suggests a certain vulnerability. The dress is ripped from her body on her wedding night by Ramsay, and then she says Sansa later he pays his brutality by feeding him to a pack of dogs.” 

Michele Clapton – Costume Designer

Mariana: Okay, so my favorite for season five will be Arya Stark as the Oyster Girl. In the past seasons she’s been running away, she looks like a little boy, so dirty and messed up, and she’s just struggling so much. So, when she gets to this part of the season, she transforms into this other character: the Oyster Girl, which is kind of her most feminine look from the entire series, I believe, and it’s beautiful. The colors are perfectly picked for her, and the different textures are all working so well. She still has the same silhouette from past costumes, the broad, round shoulders and cinched waist. It doesn’t show her as powerful as she can be, but that’s the point. She’s disguising herself in this town. 

Spencer: Oysters, Clams, and Cockles!!!! I just had to say it… I feel like she’s happy because this is the first time she’s not Arya Stark. Arya’s not worried about what the Lannister’s are doing, or really anything at all. She’s just out here selling oysters, clams, and cockles. I love the textile she’s wearing because it’s like she’s one with the harbor at this point, so she almost looks like she’s wearing netting, which is brilliant.

Elizabeth: I was going to say, she never has color except for this, and I feel like this is the first time she’s kind of happy since her family died. I feel like she shows it when she’s like the oyster girl. 

Spencer: Okay, I actually almost didn’t pick this look because I thought everyone else would pick this one. I am shocked no one else picked it. I love this look. This is from the Dance of the Dragons episode. Daenerys Targaryen just looks so good in white. However, I find it hilarious that she is wearing white because this a very dusty area. White probably wouldn’t be my first pick. I love the cape and the low kind of cut neckline she has going on. The simple lines in this dress are beautiful. Of course, we have to talk about her jewelry with the dragon wrapped around her neck. It was intended to look like she has a dragon resting on her shoulder, which I think is so cool.

She gives me Cate Blanchett as Galadriel vibes, you know, because she’s wearing bright white, in this really kind of sad town riddled with slavery and brutal arena games. To me, I feel like Daenerys is trying to give off this angel energy, even though she is nowhere close to an angel. Most people buy into this pureness; that’s the kind of the story of Game of Thrones. This evil side of Daenerys comes out toward the end, and many people didn’t see it coming because she was selling this stuff like this, where she’s wearing all white looking like a cute little angel in this arena full of killers. The signs were all there, people!

The Costumes of Season 6

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Mariana: In Season 6, the war between the great kingdoms starts to take some main characters off the map. I’m going to choose Dany for this one. By the end of this season, we have her again in this Greek/Roman-style draped gown, like she used to wear on her very first costumes from the series. At this point, it’s her time to settle a little bit and go back to where she came from before heading to Westeros to claim her throne.

Daenerys is wearing dark colors again, and it is such a contrast coming from the white she was wearing in the past season. This costume is simple, yet powerful and bold. It is the side of her that we were missing for a while, the simplicity and sensitivity underneath it all. Also, in this scene, when she names Tyrion as Hand of the Queen, she looks trustful and faithful. Right after this point, everything’s going to collapse, so it’s an excellent point to start again.

Spencer: All right, so this next one is going to be a surprise to no one. Season six, I’m all about this Cersei Lannister look. It was the first costume I thought of, and no one can change my mind. This is one of the greatest costumes of all time. Cersei just had the entire Sept of Baelor blown up with a majority of her enemies inside, all with a glass of wine in her hand. Consequently, her last living child just jumped out a window. Things are going south. At this point, Cersei is out of, well, for lack of a better word, f***s to give. Instantly it’s like she takes all the red in her closet and packs it all into a cardboard box, and takes it to Goodwill. Suddenly Cersei is all about black and this black leather that she has going on.

I just love this dark look, and it’s all about armor. Cersei is just trying to protect herself at this point and protect Jamie and the throne; she doesn’t care about anything else at this point. Cersei is in a constant state of mourning and wears black leather and silk brocade.

One last thing that’s interesting, Cersei is dressed very conservatively at this point, and she’s done showing skin. Cersei is just completely covered from the ground up, which as we mentioned earlier, at this point in the show you’re going to notice the powerful women will always be completely covered up at this point. This is one of my favorites. I guess I should mention that the piano music from this episode, The Light of the Seven, is actually my ringtone.

Elizabeth: Okay, season six… Sansa. Sorry, but I was going through it, and the character development for her and how they show it is amazing. In the Battle of the Bastards, Sansa finally gets to be her own person, she ignores everything John says, and she takes control of the situation and little fingers army to do what she knows is right. She’s very much done with listening to everyone else because that’s what got her in this mess in the first place. 

It’s hard to find a picture of the entire dress, but all of the detail is at the top of it so you can see what’s important. The dress is gorgeous velvet, and she has the Stark wolf embroidered across her chest. I am Sansa Stark, and nobody’s taking that away. She’s wearing a cloak draped over her shoulders with a full wolf hide as the trim at the top like her father used to because she’s also ready to rule. As I was looking through photos of the dress, it was funny. One of the captions said, this is Sansa clapping back, and it’s true. She’s taking control of the situation because she’s literally watching John drive the army into the ground at this point, and she’s like, I’m going to fix this. 

The Costumes of Season 7

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Spencer: In season seven, during the most unusual circumstances, characters from all over Westeros must band together to survive. This was kind of a hard one for me to pick, but I settled on Daenerys Targaryen’s initial costume that she wears as she arrived at Dragon Stone. Dany is dressed very conservatively. This is her first step into Westeros. 

This costume is all about intent. Daenerys is here on a mission at this point, and she’s not playing around. Her eyes are back on the prize, and she’s just full of intent. If you zoom in, as Mariana said earlier, you’ll see a dragon-scale-looking textile. This look also has a burnt appearance to me, representative of the trauma she’s gone through as we’re nearing the end. Dany has many great looks in this season, and I really could have picked any one of them. Also, you know I love a good cape; this is a good cape.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I love this one because she never wears armor, but with this, she’s like, I’m ready for battle, and I don’t believe we ever see her in a gown again. I think it’s all pants, and long tunics, because she’s here to get things started. Even in the Battle of Winterfell, she was running around and something kind of like this.

Spencer: Yeah, if I were a Game of Thrones character, this would probably be close to what I would be wearing if we are honest here.

Elizabeth: So mine is also going to be Daenerys.

Mariana: You might pick the one I want. I also have Daenerys.

Elizabeth:  She has a lot of great costumes this season. In every scene, it feels like she’s wearing something new. I guess because she’s got that Esos money now, she can afford it. This is what I like to call her “Commander Dany” look because this is what she wears at all the war meetings. She’s got her long tunic and pants combo in charcoal grey trimmed in fur now that they’re in the North, But her accessories make this look. She’s got some sort of chain across herself like a lot of commanders in the show have.  But it’s very unique. The chain has been made to look like the vertebrae of a dragon’s spine, and then at the top by her shoulder the three-headed dragon brooch. Attached to the broach is a beautiful deep burgundy cape with a dragon scale pattern. 

Spencer: Is this the look you picked, Mariana?

Mariana: No, I chose another one!

Spencer: Wow, we got three different Daenerys looks. This is the season of Daenerys looks!

Mariana: Good! So my pick is, I think it’s the last one from the season: Dany’s white fur coat. This is the costume she is wearing when she saves Jon Snow from the White Walkers and loses her dragon in the battle. So, it’s very emotional, powerful, and bold. This coat is pretty much her armor, and it keeps the silhouette she’s been wearing the entire season, which is that of a warrior queen. The texture on the back of the coat, simulating a dragon-scaled vertebrate, is absolutely astonishing. Not only the intricate work put into it but also how much power it brings to her character.

The total evolution of how the dragon scale texture I mentioned some seasons before has evolved fully to the Mother of Dragons. An essential part of the costume is her silver dragon chain that she also uses with the previous costume. Also, the vertical lines on the fur coat, besides the technicality behind its construction, make her look more empowered. As a design choice, vertical lines will always imply superiority, so I think that was a clever choice. In addition, Emilia Clark is a short person, so that detail worked brilliantly for her. 

“I can’t think of another time she’s gone to the aid of someone who is also, to some extent, a rival. It had to be a real statement piece. It looks very warrior queen, she’s a vision when Jon looks up and sees her arriving”.

Michele clapton – costume designer

Spencer: I’m so glad that we picked the three essential Daenerys Targaryen looks, that wasn’t even planned! 

Mariana: Yeah, every single costume Dany wears is a piece of art. 

The Costumes of Season 8

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Spencer: Okay, so, Elizabeth, you get to lead us through your favorite season of all time. Okay, to be fair, it’s not my favorite season either, but I still liked it. Your point is taken. We can save it for a podcast.

Elizabeth: Yeah, no, I just, I wish they had taken a couple more seasons, and I don’t like how Dany dies. Anyway, Season 8 brings us to the conclusion of Game of Thrones. Let’s get back to Sansa.

Throughout the whole series, Sansa goes from a sweet innocent lady to The Queen of the North. Her coronation dress is so beautiful and so powerful. You see, she takes a little advice from Cersei always to be wearing some armor; however, she incorporates it a little better. It’s not solid armor, it’s more like a cage, and you can see her gown underneath it.

The weirwood tree inspires the gown itself. It’s a whitish-grey color with a pattern mimicking leaves or bark and is full of details. It’s got the red leaves of the weirwood tree cascading down the back, which reminds me of Margaery’s first wedding gown with the roses and is a reminder of how much she influenced Sansa. She’s got her Wolf’s fur to reference back to her father. Also, there’s a very subtle fish scale pattern on the fur and sleeve for the Tully’s and her mother at the top. 

Spencer: I also picked this look! Since you brought up what I was going to say, I’ll just read you a quote from Michele Clapton about this stunning gown.

“Her dress is made from the fabric I previously used to create her “Dark Sansa” look because I wanted to commemorate the first time that Sansa decided to fight for herself. The fabric has a secondary meaning as well- it is a visual link to Margaery Tyrell, who Sansa met during her days in the capital and who was kind to Sansa when no one else was”. 

Michele Clapton continues by saying,” the gown has a full skirt made from many different panels in the style that Catelyn Stark favors, as well as long narrow sleeves. With the coronation, Michele built upon her look with several key points. “As part of the coronation ensemble, Sansa also wears an asymmetrical cloak, which has the same shape as a signature cloak I designed for Arya in the final season.” When addressing the cloak, Michele mentions, “Sansa’s cloak is attached to a neck pad, which gives her a silhouette similar to her late father’s.” The cloak is “embroidered to give it the fur-like texture seen on the dire wolf sigil and is lined in rabbit fur, a nod to Sansa’s rothers, who wore this kind of fur when they were young at Winterfell.”

The last note I want to leave is about the embroidery. “The fur-like embroidery travels down the sleeve of the cloak and transforms into Tully fish scales as a tribute to the sigil of her mother’s house. Beaded and embroidered red leaves inspired by Winterfell’s crimson-leaved weirwood tree appear to tumble from the sleeve, falling onto the train of the gown and pooling there.”

Michele clapton – Costume Designer

Now THAT is some good quality costuming right there.

Mariana: My favorite one for this season is Arya. I love this costume, everything that she was achieving throughout the entire series comes to one single moment, and it’s this one. She is powerful, strong, fearless, and determined. Arya is finally wearing something that she’s comfortable with, and she is finally showing herself as a warrior and a smart girl.

She is also wearing the “commander cape” across her body, which gives her that power and authority. In addition, we can see some accurate details from medieval/renaissance costumes, like the sleeves, which were not sewn into the garment but tied with a cord. Also, I heard in an interview with Michele Clapton that armors in the north don’t have metal because it will get cold, so they are all using leather or fur, which I found to be such an interesting thing to have in mind and to keep it accurate through the whole series. 


Spencer: Wow, we did it! We went through eight seasons of Game of Thrones costumes. That was a lot of fun, but now to make things really interesting… I think we should each go around and pick our favorite costume from the entire show! Cue the dramatic music!

Elizabeth: Oh no, that’s too much. I can’t decide that. 

Mariana: OMG! This is going to be hard! 

Images Courtesy of HBO – Game of Thrones

Spencer: Well, I’ll go first, but that is because mine is pretty straightforward. My winner is…surprise surprise, Cersei’s black gown from season 6, The Winds of Winter! I remember seeing this for the first time, and I stood up and started clapping. It’s the best. I love the textile, and I love the black leather. I love the armor on the shoulder pads and high neckline.

This is the best Cersei looks in the entire show; she just looks fantastic and in control. I know she’s pretty evil at this point, but she doesn’t really believe herself to be evil in her head. She sees herself doing the best for her family. That being said, her family is basically dead at this point, but you know where I’m going with this. So that’s my favorite costume. If I ever meet Michele Clapton, I want to thank her for this entire show, especially for this specific costume.

Elizabeth: I’m ready. Okay, so I’m choosing one that I didn’t already go over. I’ll explain why. So it’s Margaery in her almost her standard Tyrell dress with the flower belt blue velvet shoulder pieces, gold-embroidered roses on her bodice with an open back. This is her at her pinnacle when she’s manipulating Joffrey and climbing her way up to the top. She was my favorite character that season, and I cosplayed her later that year.

Mariana: My favorite costume will be Daenerys in her blue dress. First, because the transformation the character is going through in this particular moment is crucial for the entire series. And second, when I discovered the amount of detail going on in this dress, it blew my mind. I never thought something could be as symbolic and as perfectly done for a character. So, I’ll say this one is my favorite one, and as I mentioned before, I once tried to imitate the texture for a costume I made. It was a beautiful thing to reference, and I had lots of fun. So, yeah, this will be my favorite one.

Spencer: We did it. Thank you both for joining our first Game of Thrones roundtable. I’m sure we will do more in the future. Maybe at the 20th anniversary? Ugh, no, I can’t wait that long.

Mariana: Thank you again for this! I had a great time; it is amazing to find people who share your passion and obsession with particular series and costumes. 

Elizabeth: This has been so much fun with you two, Game of Thrones is one of my favorite shows to talk about, and I hope we can talk about it more again. 


Game of Thrones: The Costumes is now available to purchase!

Authored by Costume Designer, Michele Clapton and Gina McIntyre. Foreword by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Dayna Pink and The Costumes of Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country – Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett. Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO

This year, costume designer Dayna Pink was nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for Excellence in Period Television for her recent work on the hit HBO original television show, Lovecraft Country. Before Lovecraft Country, Dayna has enjoyed a widely successful career, designing costumes for film such as Bumblebee, Bad Boys For Life, Baywatch, Crazy, Stupid, Love., Fame, and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny! I was honored with an opportunity to speak with Dayna about her career, inspiration, and her incredible work as costume designer on Lovecraft Country. Please enjoy!


Spencer: Hi, Dana! I’m so happy to finally meet you and congratulations on your nomination!

Dayna: Hi! It’s so nice to meet you as well.

Spencer: Thank you so much for joining me. Before we talk about Lovecraft Country and your recent Costume Designers Guild Award nomination, I would just love to hear a little bit about your journey to becoming a costume designer and what moved you in that direction? 

Dayna: I started as a stylist. I grew up and lived in Detroit and I started styling bands and doing music videos. I then moved to L.A. to style for bands and I did a Tenacious D music video, it was called “Tribute”. (Editors Note: Since this interview, I have listened to this song one thousand times.) It was so funny and amazing. After the music video, they were going to do a movie, and they sent me the script, and the same director from the video was doing it. He sent me the script and I was doing a lot of commercials and at that time doing a million things at once. I asked myself, “do I want to do a movie and take myself out of being available for whatever it is, four months, five months, six months?” 

Suddenly I’m sitting across the table from this producer and director, I realized that this wasn’t just about what they were wearing, but why they were wearing it and where they had gotten it. This was about being a storyteller as much as putting clothes on somebody and that it still makes the hair on my arms stand up. That idea of actually contributing to something and being a storyteller changed the way I looked at everything. So, you know, even if Jack Black shows up in a T-shirt off the bus coming across the country, what does it say about him? It changed the trajectory of my career. I continued in styling and I still style now actually.  I still have some clients that I dress, but realizing that being a filmmaker, being a storyteller, what we do means something, that was a cool moment for me. 

Spencer: That’s one of the reasons why I love working in costume design so much. Costume designers are storytellers. Our favorite films, television shows, plays, wouldn’t be possible without the costume designer’s vision.

Dayna: That’s amazing. I love that. 

Spencer: Throughout the pandemic, a lot of people have had a hard time staying inspired, finding creativity. How do you stay inspired and connected to your creativity?

Lovecraft Country – Naomi Mack, Jurnee Smollett, Wunmi Mosaku, Keon Mitchell and Jonathan Majors. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: For the first six months I did not work. I stayed home and I had come off of a year and a half on the road, then the pandemic hit. At first, it was terrible and scary, yet it was sort of restful and introspective. I  read some books, watched things on television and I watched movies. We had time to sit and think about our lives. It was a time of kind of refilling for me. Then back in August, I started a little movie that Channing Tatum directed called Dog, Channing starred in it and directed it. It was such a gift because it was a controlled, beautiful little project. After that, I did a pilot and worked with Steve Carell for The Morning Show. I’ve managed to stay busy and stay home at the same time, which has been nice. 

Spencer: You mentioned that during the pandemic you were indulging yourself in different books, films, and shows…I sense a bit of creative escapism. You reminded me of the character, Atticus (Played by Jonathan Majors), from Lovecraft Country. So, let’s talk about Lovecraft Country, shall we? 

This show was a huge project. When I first started watching the show, I kind of chalked it up as a period drama. Lovecraft Country is SO much bigger than a period drama. There is science-fiction, horror, monsters, comic books, literature, America, France, Korea, space, drag queens, ghosts… just to name a few elements. It’s very impressive. I want you to first speak to what was your reaction was when you first started on this project if you could?

Lovecraft Country – Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors and Courtney B. Vance. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: I was brought in to have a meeting for the pilot first, and the pilot was cool. It was period and said really important things. I was drawn to it. My idea for it was to route everything in the period. Understand the period and that’s the place you start. But because there’s a fantasy aspect to this, you get to go different places that you wouldn’t normally go. So not everything was accurate. I loved doing the pilot so much that I just couldn’t imagine not doing the whole show after that. I never thought I would do a whole show. “Oh, I’m doing this, this is happening.” 

Then reading every episode going forward, now there’s a drag ball, now we’re in Paris with dancers. It was overwhelming to read all the things you were going to have to do, but it was over a long period. It was like a hamster on a wheel. We just kept going and going and going. Next thing you know, we’re done with this episode and we are wondering what’s happening next? 

Lovecraft Country – Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Spencer: How long were you on this project? After finishing the show, I figured it must have taken a lifetime to costume this story.

Dayna: Probably 10 months, not including the pilot.

Spencer: It’s beautiful, it’s massive. It’s like every episode was its own, individual movie. Each episode could have lived completely on its own.

Dayna: Thank you for saying that. That’s how we thought of it. You know, we just made ten little movies. 

Spencer: Lovecraft Country is based on a novel by Matt Ruff, and a combination of short stories by the author, H.P. Lovecraft. So much of it also references famous literature such as Dracula, A Princess of Mars, and The Count of Monte Cristo. There’s also a lot of photographic references which I thought were amazing, such as the Gordon Parks’s Department Store, Mobile, Alabama. What sort of research and references were you looking at as you were bringing this project together?

Dayna: Of course, we researched the period first. We did everything we could to find all the real photos and, of course, the photographers of the time such as Gordon Parks. Two things were happening at the same time. What was it really? And what do we want it to be? We were taking those two things and putting them together. There were moments where we absolutely honor the things that really happened, like those Gordon Parks photos that we created. We tried to be as close to those as we could. We looked at those and historical moments that happened. Emmett Till’s funeral, the Tulsa Race Massacre, those moments we tried to honor and step away from. We didn’t do an interpretation of them. We tried to recreate them. 

Then there’s everything else. We had room to add our little special sauce. Both things are true, right? Some things happened that we wanted to honor and then there were things like, well shouldn’t Leti (Played by Jurnee Smollett) be wearing a crazy shirt with that outfit? When you first see Leti come to the block party, that was based on a Dior outfit that I had found from that time in my research. So there were things that were rooted and referenced and then some we just took it to our trajectory. 

Lovecraft Country – Wunmi Mosaku and Jurnee Smollett. Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO

Spencer: It’s amazing to me how, in those moments where you were focused on recreating, how accurate and detailed you were. For example, the Gordon Parks photo side by side is uncanny. 

Since we started talking about Leti, we have to talk about her wardrobe or the fans will be mad at me! *laughs* I love Leti. Her wardrobe is amazing. You could tell that she loves to just play dress-up. It feels as though her costumes aren’t always appropriate for the moment. But she doesn’t care and she’s just living.

Dayna: That’s exactly right. You know, with most characters, you ask yourself the questions, where did they get this, and how long have they had it? But with Leti, the sky is the limit because she would have gotten whatever she wanted, regardless of how she was going to get it. That’s what we kind of did with her. We didn’t put limits on what she could or couldn’t wear. We just had so much fun with the moment. What does she want to look like? Her wardrobe deconstructs as the show goes on, towards the end, she’s wearing Atticus’s clothes. She gets more casual. She’s in a sweatshirt. She’s in a t-shirt. But, the whole beginning of the series, she’s full-on wearing whatever she wants when she likes. Jurnee was amazing, and dressing her was awesome. 

Spencer:  She looked amazing in every episode. It’s like she takes your breath away every time she comes on screen. One thing I noticed and loved about the costuming was the vibrant colors. Was that intentional?

Dayna: It was intentional. We wanted certain characters to pop in certain moments. The background is softer and creamy, less primary colors. But our characters, our heroes have some brighter colors. And you’re going to notice them. 

Spencer: There’s another character I want to talk about, Christina Braithwhite (Played by Abbey Lee Kershaw). You don’t trust her. You’re pretty positive she’s evil, but you can’t put your finger on it. She has that Glenn Close, Cruella De Vil feel, where you know you’re not supposed to like her, but her fashion is beyond so you can’t help it that you kind of want to hang out with her. 

Dayna: She’s more forties inspired to me and darker in a way, crispier. I wanted to create closets and pieces for our characters that you want to show. Atticus is wearing a t-shirt, but you want to touch it. You want to feel it. What is it? It’s soft. I created costumes for Christina that you wouldn’t want to touch necessarily. You want to appreciate them from here. She has the hats and always in heels and you know, it’s a harder kind of vibe than Leti or Ruby Baptiste (Played by Wunmi Mosaku), who was also amazing and fun to dress and super sexy. We got to make all of her clothes. That was so much fun. 

Spencer: Also, super colorful too! I loved all the prints that Ruby was in. 

So you were nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for Excellence In Period Television, the credit was attributed to episode seven, “I Am”. We could probably do a whole interview around this episode. It’s amazing. 

In this episode, Hippolyta (Played by Aunjanue Ellis) travels through the science-fiction realms of the multiverse. She meets an entity known as Beyond C’est (Played by Karen LeBlanc), and goes on an incredible journey of self-discovery, through many different realms! Hippolyta ends up in Paris, dancing with Josephine Baker, and partying with Frida Kahlo. We then travel to The Kingdom of Dahomey where Hippolyta is training and ends up leading the fight against a large army of soldiers. But wait, there is more! We end with Hippolyta traveling to the comic book world of Orithyia Blue where she’s wearing a terrific orrery dress with that blue hair. Let’s talk about this episode. There’s so much going happening here, it’s living art!

Dayna: What was cool was we did have a while to think about it because this was a later episode. So I got to think about that over a long period and come up with ideas like her astronaut outfit with the orrery, how could I turn that into a costume somehow?

Spencer: I love that dress and I love this retro view of the future.

Dayna: Because they were in a world inspired by a comic book! The cool thing about all those different looks was that they didn’t have to even be from one eye, even though it is my perspective. Then there’s just the rest of the episode, which is the 50s. There are all these different elements in that episode and the Beyond C’est character which was fantastical as we could make it fun. Then we gave a fresh perspective to the dancers. The dancer’s costumes were made in our costume department, we had people gluing on feathers, all the different pieces. We didn’t get finished until three o’clock in the morning…the night before. 

Lovecraft Country – Carra Patterson as Josephine Baker. Photo courtesy of HBO

Spencer: The night before? That is incredible!

Dayna: Yes! Then there it was. The girls were all on stage, these beautiful girls in the costumes. After all that work, it was such a beautiful moment for us to watch. Like, wow, look what we did!!

Spencer: It felt so real and authentic like you had been preparing for this scene with Josephine Baker and dancing costumes your entire life. It was amazing. Now, let’s talk about The Kingdom of Dahomey. Also, another really beautiful scene. Hippolyta had on what looked like Grecian-inspired armor at one point. I also LOVED the use of the traditional, African cowrie beading. Tell me about the research you did for this scene?

Dayna: Yeah, you’re right. All those things you said are exactly what we did. We researched all different places and we kind of combined them into one. Everything was also made in our offices. We molded the leather, beaded shell by shell, and bit by bit. Everybody was made to look different. We even made the helmet for Hippolyta, we made it all. That shell necklace for the queen I bought from an antique furniture store. It was a piece hanging on the wall that was kind of on a stand. And I looked at it and I said. The queen’s going to wear that. 

Spencer: I am obsessed with that. I can’t imagine, your mind is amazing.

Dayna: Everyone was saying, you’re going to have to take it apart. It’s so heavy. There’s no way. It’s so big. I just kept saying, oh no, this is completely happening. I also wanted to respect those fabrics. Everything means something, and so I don’t want to dishonor any piece of history or any piece that means something to a culture. However, at this moment we had a cool opportunity to be creative. With full respect, I wanted to take those pieces and maybe do something a little different than what they’re normally worn for. For example, if a dress was traditionally for a wedding, maybe that’s not what we did with it. We gave it our own little twist. 

Spencer: Well to your great credit, it was very beautiful and felt very true, and thoughtful. It was honestly one of my favorite episodes of a TV show I have watched in a long time. Not to sound too much like a fan, but I am thankful for you and this body of work. 

Dayna: Wow. That’s amazing to me. Thank you. Well just after that episode, we all looked at each other because you’re nothing without your team and we all did this together. I mean, I don’t know how many people had a glue gun, but everybody’s paintbrush helped. Everybody brings their best self and everybody wanted it to look amazing. We just stood there looking at the stage with these people, looking at those warriors…the scene where Hippolyta is backstage with Frida Kahlo and all the extras. We just looked at that stage of all these people and thought, “Oh, I’d like to be at that party”.

Spencer: I thought the same thing. I don’t know what they’re drinking or what’s going on, but I know I want to be there!

Dayna: We knew that we were doing something magical. Then to take it one step further Misha Green (Showrunner and Executive Producer), whose mind gave birth to this, was saying something way bigger than, “oh, what are they wearing?” She was saying something so important and we were helping to tell that story, which is a way bigger story than these little pieces that we were doing. So not only were we excited about our work, but we were excited about being on a path, on a journey to say something that we all thought was so important. It was a very special job. 

Lovecraft Country – Michael K. Williams as Montrose Freeman. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Spencer: I also have to mention the drag ball. You must have had the biggest team ever, everyone, grab a glue stick and glue gun. There’s so much to do. 

Dayna: You should have seen it. Every single person on the crew was either in a boa or a turban. Everyone had some crazy accessories on! It’s a dream. I mean, these jobs do not come up very often. I don’t take it for granted. I’m super grateful for being able to do and create all the things that we did. 

Spencer: I am excited to move on to this next topic! I am a big horror nerd. I love scary movies. This show fed my soul! There was lots of blood, lots of guts. I don’t know of many shows that had so much blood, perhaps The Walking Dead? It was excessive, and I LOVED it! What people don’t realize though is that this presents a unique challenge for the costume department. Can you talk about the aging process? You must have had fake blood everywhere.

Lovecraft Country – Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: Oh we did, we definitely did. Sometimes we built things, we designed outfits because we knew that they were going to get bloody like Leti’s cream-colored outfit. We knew that it was going to be covered in blood. So we thought about where’s it going to end up, and how bloody is it going to be. This is also the time to think about multiples. That’s another reason that you make everything. You can’t go to a vintage store and say, oh, I need eight of that shirt. That doesn’t exist. So we had to make everything, and we had to make multiples of everything because of all the blood. 

Spencer: This sounds exhausting, but I am living for it. You also had to create a lot of costumes for the ghosts and monsters. There was an episode where there was, eight different ghosts. Later on, we see the spirits of Topsy and Bopsy. I am still terrified. I just… wow.

Lovecraft Country – Bianca Brewton and Kaelynn Gobert-Harris as Topsy and Bopsy. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: We did it all. The ghosts, Topsy and Bopsy… we made those, and those were actually made out of silk. They looked like potato sacks but really it was beautiful silk that we had printed on. Also, in episode four where the characters are in that shipwreck-like setting, we costumed the characters sitting around the table on the ship. We just made everything all the wardrobe that you see was us, everything. 

Spencer: I am so amazed, just masterful work. I might not have been able to sleep afterward but it was well worth it. 

The last topic I wanted to discuss with you, not only did you recreate a 1950’s America, you later have to recreate South Korea at the very beginning of the Korean War. It was tragic, but it was tragically beautiful in the sense that the costumes were just so lovely to look at. Actress Jamie Chung who played the Kumiho, Ji-Ah, I was obsessed with her coats and all of the nurse outfits.

Lovecraft Country – Jamie Chung as Ji-Ah. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: I love her. I loved dressing her. I loved that episode, I thought it was so beautiful. We definitely took a little liberty there and we did have somebody there who was guiding us through what was traditional, and what isn’t traditional. There were things that we knew were not traditional, but they were all in the spirit of what they did for the period and the setting. We took some liberties with the pants and similar things. We wanted to create in the same way, something grounded and based in the period in something that was our own. And so that’s what we did. I think that was one of the most beautiful episodes, I really do. 

Spencer: I agree. The way it all came together was incredible. 

Well, that’s it for Lovecraft country. I can launch thousands of questions at you…I’ll never stop. On a final note, The Art of Costume is followed by a lot of nerds like myself, but also aspiring costume designers and overall creatives. So I have to ask you the famous question, of course. What advice would you give to someone who’s reading this, who maybe wants to move into costuming, styling, or anything in a creative field?

Dayna: I think if you love something and you want to do it, then do it. I didn’t have a traditional path to get where I am. You know, I was a model when I was young and I loved clothes. People used to put clothes on me and I would say, maybe put this with that! I just loved clothes. That’s what I wanted to do. So I didn’t do it the way that other people do it. I think that’s OK. Whatever path gets you there, is the right path. 

Lovecraft Country – Wunmi Mosaku as Ruby Baptiste. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

If you love it then my best advice is to say yes to everything, figure out the details later. That’s my best advice. I said yes to everything in Detroit when I started. Sometimes you had to do costumes, makeup, and script. So I would sit on a set, first I would do the makeup, then I would do their hair, then I would get them dressed and then I would go out there and I would take script notes and I made one hundred dollars a day. That’s what I did because what I wanted to do was costumes. But to get there, that’s what I had to do. So someone would say, are you busy tomorrow? I would say I’m available. Yeah. 

Spencer: What do you need me to do? 

Dayna: Exactly. There are things that I do because I love what I do. I don’t think I will ever get to a place that I feel like I can just, you know, be so picky. I feel very honored to be able to have the opportunities that I do, I don’t take them for granted. But I got here by saying yes. 

Spencer: Dayna that is such lovely advice. Thank you for saying that. That’s terrific advice. Thank you, Dayna, this was so fun and I’m very glad I got this opportunity to talk with you. Congratulations on the CDGA nomination. Your work on Lovecraft Country was amazing and I am just thankful we got to talk about it. 

Dayna: Thank you for saying that. I can’t tell you how it feels to work on something and be creative and feel proud to have been part of something. It was such an important show for me and I’m super grateful to have had the opportunity to do it. 


From showrunner and executive producer Misha Green, HBO’s drama series LOVECRAFT COUNTRY is available to stream on HBO Max. Thank you again to CDGA nominee Dayna Pink for this enlightening conversation.

For more in-depth conversation about Lovecraft Country, I HIGHLY recommend the incredible HBO sponsored podcast, “Lovecraft Country Radio” – hosted by Ashley C. Ford and Lovecraft Country writer Shannon Houston as they share their thoughts on the ties between the horror genre and Black culture and explore how the show’s themes connect to contemporary social issues.

(Ashley and Shannon, if you are reading this… please continue the podcast. I need your commentary in my life forever… I volunteer Buffy the Vampire Slayer as tribute.)

Creating The Clone Club: Sarah Manning and Helena

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning (Left) and Helena (Right) BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 5. Photo: BBC America

While all the separate characters in Orphan Black could be considered an ensemble cast with distinct fully fleshed-out storylines for every character. However, the majority of the story pivots around sisters Sarah Manning and Helena.

Twins by an accident of nature and born outside the program because their surrogate realized what kind of life they were headed towards and spirited them away, Helena and Sarah defy and encapsulate everything they were created for.

At birth, Helena was put into a Catholic orphanage in Ukraine and eventually found by the religious sect of neolution. They abused and brainwashed her into believing she was the original that all the clones were created from and that it was her mission in life to murder them. Trained to murder and live on the run, Helena was laser-focused on her task, so how she looks is not a priority. With little to no color in her wardrobe she easily fades into the background as she wears a combination of what she’s given, finds on the road, and what she gets to use for a disguise. Wearing those clothes till they no longer serve her purposes or they are too coated in dirt and blood.

Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 1 Episode 4. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 1 Episode 7. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 5. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 1. Photo: BBC America

While she doesn’t dress in any distinctive way, her hair is her signature. Bleach blonde, curly and voluminous Helena’s hair, it’s hard not to notice her. While her hair lets her stand out her face tells you a lot about who she is and what she’s had to survive. However, deciding Helena’s look was a journey that started with inspiration from the Joker.

“I would have to say the most challenging and the most stimulating was coming up with [Sharah’s twin] Helena. They had seen her originally as a sooty black eye makeup kind of a joker. We kind of ignored that – in fact we ignored that completely.”

STEPHEN LYNCH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH GLAMOUR

While the Joker inspiration certainly reflects her mad murderous nature at the beginning of the series they know that this look would not carry through her transformation in the rest of the series and so they turned to religious iconography for inspiration. 

We used the church as our research because she was raised by nuns in Eastern Europe and she’s a damaged character. We looked at the silent version of Joan of Arc … We used Michelangelo and frescoes, and Eastern orthodox and Latin American statues that cried real tears. We just wanted something new, something we had never seen before.”

STEPHEN LYNCH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH GLAMOUR

Another outward expression of Helena’s character that is hidden to us most of the time is her wings. A troubling and disturbing insight into her past, Helena has cut the image of angel wings into her back when seeking to repent or to refocus on her original mission. However, this was not always the image showrunners had in mind for her wings. 

I had been asked to do a tattoo, and frankly it just bored me. We had to come up with something else. So we thought what if she creates angel wings with scarification. So we grabbed our show runner’s assistant and we did our own photo shoot to convince the powers that be. I was really proud of that. It’s really off-kilter and nothing we’ve seen before.

STEPHEN LYNCH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH GLAMOUR

Helena continues her crazed murder spree until she finds herself unable to murder Beth Childs because she instinctually knows it’s not Beth, but Sarah.

At birth, Sarah is put into the British foster care system and adopted by her foster mother, who moves them to Canada. A troubled youth Sarah becomes an accomplished con artist and single mother who desperately wants to regain custody of her daughter and create a better life for them. So when she witnesses Beth step off the train platform and takes her identity in an attempt to get enough money to move away with her daughter she unknowingly throws herself into Dyad’s path.

In all five seasons, Sarah’s aesthetic is punk, and she doesn’t care or think about what other people have to say about her appearance. Messy hair ripped jeans and leather jacket all in black and grey. Like many of her sisters, Sarah’s makeup is one of her defining features. While the original inspiration for her was Amy Winehouse, lead makeup artist Stephen Lynch decided she needed to be more relatable,

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning BBC America: Orphan Black Season 1 Episode 1. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning BBC America: Orphan Black Season 1 Episode 2. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning BBC America: Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 2. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning BBC America: Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 3. Photo: BBC America

“She is enigmatic and on the run,” … “So we considered those things and probably went a little Amy Winehouse on Sarah the first time. We were about 90 percent there but thought [the makeup] was a little bit much.”

Stephen Lynch in an interview with Vanity Fair

Lynch certainty brought it down to a very real level. While she always has dark eye make up Sarah is rarely seen with lipstick or any other makeup and above all else, she looks tired.

“…I thought we all know and recognize this girl: we see her on the train and think maybe she sleeps there or in subways or on park benches. We want her to be a bit worn down by life. We decided to make it look like she maybe wears a little makeup on top of her old makeup and never cleans her skin properly. There is always a hard, worn-out kind of look to her that we want to reflect her inner state.”

STEPHEN LYNCH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH VANITY FAIR

Sarah is certainly worn down by life as she becomes the main clone searching for answers while simultaneously trying desperately trying to herself and her daughter out of Dyad’s hands. Her make-up and style become progressively less extreme as the stress weighs down on her.

As Sarah is struggling and her style becomes less defined, Helena is finally starting to find new meaning in her life and develop a style.

 

As Helena is finding her new place in the world she simply wears what she is given. Whether that’s it’s the conservative Mormon esc dresses from the Neulotion cult she’s kidnapped into. A mishmash of clothes from Sarah or if the drab khaki prisoners clothes she’s given when detained by the military. Helena continues to have little interest in how she dresses until she starts to embrace her clone club sisters.

Tatiana Maslany as Helena and Peter Outerbridge as Henrik Johanssen BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 3. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 6. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 9. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 5. Photo: BBC America

As Helena starts her new life among her sisters and gets ready to be a mother she continues to wear what is given to her. Because she lives with Alison her clothes consist mostly of pinks and bold patterns that permeate Alison’s wardrobe and from here she begins to develop joy in her life she’s never had before she also develops her own style. While she loves the clothes Alison gives her, Helena takes down the color during a little escape into the wood but never again fully abandons color. By the end when her troubles are mostly behind her Helena’s the prints and colors that reflect the joy she finds in life with her family.

Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 8. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 10. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 9. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena BBC America: Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 10. Photo: BBC America

After five seasons Sarah, Helena, and the sisters have achieved all they have struggled for and learning that their differences are what gives them value. These differences created by Tatiana Maslany, Stephen Lynch, Sandy Sokolowski, Laurie Drew, and Debra Hanson illustrate the power those differences can have on-screen when created through hair, makeup, and costume and brought to life with acting.

“We do a character workout with Tat and Stephen [Lynch, the head of makeup] and Debra Hanson [head of wardrobe]—we collectively build a character.”

Sandy Sokolowski IN AN INTERVIEW WITH GLAMOUR
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning, Helena, Cosima Niehaus and Alison Hendrix BBC America: Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 10. Photo: BBC America

In the series the sisters often need to impersonate each other. Here are some of the times Helena and Sarah impersonated their sisters.

Tatiana Maslany as Helena as Beth Childs BBC America: Orphan Black Season 1 Episode 4. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning as Alison Hendrix and Dylan Bruce as Paul Dierden BBC America: Orphan Black Season 1 Episode 7. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning as Rachel Duncan BBC America: Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 1. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Helena as Alison Hendrix BBC America: Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 9. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning as Krystal Godritch BBC America: Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 10. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning as Alison Hendrix BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 7. Photo: BBC America

Thank you for reading the “Creating The Clone Club” Series! If you missed any of the previous editions, please follow this link for more content! Congratulations to our Senior Editor, Elizabeth Joy Glass, on another in-depth, insightful, successful series of articles!


Want to know more? Check out my sources.

Miller, Julie. “Here’s How Orphan Black Transforms Tatiana Maslany Into a Cast of Clones.” Vanity Fair, 2015, http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/04/orphan-black-clones.

Shapouri, Beth. “More Onset Secrets From Orphan Black???You’ve GOT to Hear the Background on Helena!” Glamour, 2 May 2014, http://www.glamour.com/story/more-onset-secrets-from-orphan.

Shapouri, Beth. “How Much Cosima’s Wig Weighs and Other Shocking Hair Secrets From Orphan Black.” Glamour, Glamour, 12 Jan. 2016, http://www.glamour.com/story/how-much-cosimas-wig-weighs-an.

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

The date is February 25th, 2021, and what a historic day it is! It’s officially Ruth E. Carter day in Hollywood! Today, Ruth E. Carter will become the first Black costume designer to receive a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, only the second costume designer to be honored with a star following Edith Head, who was honored in 1960 at the origin of this iconic landscape.

“A career spanning more than three decades in theater, cinema, and television, Carter’s depth of artistry flowing together with her creative instincts, passion for culture and history, empathy for people, enormous capacity for research, eye for detail, and ability to deliver the director’s vision while infusing her art makes her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers in the world”

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Though the ceremony was virtual, it was still a fabulous event featuring iconic guest speakers and previous collaborators of Ruth’s, Oprah Winfrey, and Eddie Murphy. We even got to see the making of Ruth’s star! I honestly can’t think of anyone more deserving of this incredible honor. Ruth E. Carter is an icon, a mentor, and most of all, a trailblazer who serves as an inspiration not only to costume designers but all creatives hoping to build a life around their creative passions. I feel like I am speaking for everyone when I say Ruth is simply just, the greatest of all time.

“She opened a lot of doors for us. I’ve seen more people requesting Black designers this year — due to her win, but also partially due to the social climate. Even me being considered [for awards] right now is due to her winning and laying this groundwork.”

Costume designer, Charlese Antoinette Jones – VARIETY.com

“People ask me how did I get RUTH CARTER to be my first guest on my Instagram Live show…. I tell them, I just asked! Without hesitation, Ruth said, “I’m in, let’s do this!” To me, that is Ruth. Authentic, real, and giving to the core. I am so honored to call this star my peer, and more importantly my friend.”

Costume Designer & Host of CONVOS WITH COSTUME DESIGNERS, Mandi Line

While this is all so exciting, the celebration doesn’t stop there! If you thought securing a spot on the historic, Hollywood Walk of Fame, or winning an Oscar was enough, you are so wrong! I am excited to share with you all an exciting exhibition that you can all safely visit in Atlanta, Georgia. This Winter, The Savannah College of Art and Design’s SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film opened the monumental exhibition Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design

Black Panther – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

Within this exhibition, you will be in the presence of costumes from generation-defining films such as Selma, Do the Right Thing, and Black Panther. Nearly four decades of Ruth’s work is currently on display! In addition to Carter’s costumes for stars such as Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington, “the exhibition also features garments worn by luminaries” such as Angela Bassett, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, Rosie Perez, Forest Whitaker, and of course, the late Chadwick Boseman, “demonstrating the varied work her career brings to the screen.”

“The award-winning museum will showcase more than 60 costumes by Carter, as well as sketches and ephemera illustrating the designer’s in-depth historical research and creative process for each project. Carter is an expert storyteller who harnesses the power of visual communication to share vital narratives exploring culture, race, and politics.

SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film
Malcom X – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

The Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is so expertly curated. Honestly, when I first saw the exhibition,  I felt as though my heart stopped for a second. The pure excellence, vibrancy, and emotional power of Ruth’s work, in combination with the beautiful displays of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, is overwhelming in all of the right ways.

“The exhibition was created in that spirit of love of self and it serves to empower anyone with an inner creative with a passion to nurture their own voice, like I did, and are determined to share their story through their art. I want to inspire a new generation, who are already expressing the need to project a profound personal connection of diversity in storytelling and to do it authentically in a way that connects with their creative self. I want to encourage them to trust their voice and embody their Afrofuture no matter who they are or where they come from.”

Ruth E. Carter
Roots – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is co-curated by Rafael Gomes, director of fashion exhibitions, and Christina Frank, assistant director of fashion exhibitions, in collaboration with guest curator Julia Long. The exhibition is open now until Sept. 12, 2021. For ticketing and more information on the exhibition and SCAD FASH, please visit scadfash.org. 

On behalf of The Art of Costume Team, I would like to congratulate Ruth once again on these incredible achievements and I look forward to many more years of your groundbreaking, innovative work. All hail the queen!


“When I was working on the many Spike Lee films, I got the nickname ‘Ruthless’ by fellow crew members who would say, ‘Hey Ruthless!’ I knew it was because I worked so hard behind the scenes, designing the many looks, gathering materials, and getting hundreds of actors in costume, connecting actor to character through fashion. I’m grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with SCAD FASH in bringing my collection together to share my career experience with everyone.”

RUTH. E CARTER

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is open until Sept. 12, 2021

For ticketing and more information on SCAD FASH, please visit scadfash.org. 

Works Cited:

Howard, Nandi. “Ruth E. Carter Will Become The First Black Costume Designer To Receive Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame.” Essence, Essence, 22 Feb. 2021, http://www.essence.com/fashion/ruth-e-carter-to-receive-star-on-hollywood-walk-of-fame/.

“Ruth E. Carter.” Hollywood Walk of Fame, 24 Feb. 2021, walkoffame.com/ruthecarter/.

“’Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design’.” SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, 25 Nov. 2020, http://www.scadfash.org/exhibitions/ruth-e-carter-afrofuturism-costume-design.

Tangcay, Jazz. “Ruth E. Carter Makes History With a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Variety, Variety, 24 Feb. 2021, variety.com/2021/artisans/awards/ruth-carter-walk-of-fame-1234913760/.

From Animation to Live-Action: Behind The Costumes of The Mandalorian

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+, © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. &TM. All Rights Reserved.

Going into this new year, many things seem uncertain. However, one thing I think we can all agree on is that The Mandalorian is one of the greatest shows out there. Lightsaber fights, stormtroopers, explosions, exciting worlds, new and returning characters, Baby Yoda… wait I mean, Grogu. The second season of The Mandalorian, a Disney + original, took audiences to exciting new heights. One of the more thrilling features of the second season was the introduction of characters that many Star Wars fans have come to know and love, Bo-Katan Kryze and Ahsoka Tano, two characters originating from the animated Star Wars shows, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.

I spoke with season 2 costume designer, Shawna Trpcic, about this exciting project and the incredible task of bringing these two animated fan favorites into the live-action, Emmy Award-Winning world of The Mandalorian.


Spencer Williams: Hi Shawna! Thank you so much for talking with me and congratulations on an incredible season of The Mandalorian! I had so much fun watching each week and I miss it dearly! What was your experience like designing costumes for The Mandalorian, and now being a part of the Star Wars universe? 

Shawna Trpcic: Hi Spencer! The experience was like no other – Jon has brought together a band of incredible artists and technicians, but most importantly a group of Star Wars fans through and through. The show is fast-paced and a huge undertaking and we all want to give our all for every moment and every look – it’s the most glorious and rewarding challenge – I often squeal with childlike excitement when a costume is finished and on the actor.

Spencer: I can only imagine! So I have really been looking forward to talking to you about this. For years, some of our favorite characters have only been seen in animated television shows such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Star Wars: Rebels. As a costume designer, you played a big role in bringing to life some serious fan-favorites, Bo-Katan Kryze (played by Katee Sackhoff) and Ahsoka Tano (played by Rosario Dawson). What was your reaction when you realized the weight of this exciting task?

(L-R): Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Francois Duhamel

Shawna: I have been going to Comic-Con in San Diego for years and years, and have great respect and understanding for the legacy of these iconic characters – by staying loyal to Dave Filoni’s vision created in the animation but applying my knowledge of how a costume must work for live-action and movement – I knew we’d created something magical. When I asked Jose Fernandez at Ironhead Studios to build the armor for the two ladies I was very clear that maintaining the strong feminine shape Dave had in the animation was very important to me. 

Spencer: Can you take us through your process of adapting these two characters from animation into a live-action world? How did you decide on what elements to carry over from prior incarnations of the character’s costumes? 

Shawna: Dave guided me very carefully through the helmets – the angle of the cheekbones, the slant of the eyes, the flare at the bottom. The helmet is the first thing you see and it communicates so much – getting that right and the slight differences in the colors were imperative

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Francois Duhamel

Spencer: What sort of challenges did you face in designing these costumes? Both characters see a lot of action scenes such as gun-fights and lightsaber duels. All of this keeping in mind that there are also some intricate headpieces and armor involved.

Shawna: We did tear out a few seams in the action – also after a week of intense fighting Katee was losing weight and gaining more muscle. The uniform was shifting and frequent alterations were needed to keep the shape we intended. We did add stretch panels throughout to ease the strain on the seams

Spencer: When we first meet Ahsoka in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka is a young padawan. Now, Ahsoka is a wise, experienced figure. I believe you can track her journey and overall character development through her costumes over the years. What was the thought process behind her style evolution seen in The Mandalorian?

Shawna: I relied heavily on Dave’s direction for her – he gave me his research that influenced his decisions and I worked off of them to create the live-action version – even going so far as to have fabric made to give her the journey worn cloak – and we made many attempts at the Jedi hood before we got it right as well.

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and the Magistrate (Diana Lee Inosanto) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Spencer: Is there an element to either of these two costumes that just really brought the character to life that excited you? I noticed Ahsoka had a braid tied around her belt that looked similar to her Padawan braid made of “Silka Beads”. Hmmm?  

Shawna: *laughs* It may or may not be the braid – some influences are like art – up to the interpretation of the viewer. Every detail of her costume means something and comes from her character’s evolution – but it’s important to me to let the viewer participate in the storytelling. 

Spencer: I love that, so very much! Thank you again Shawna for speaking with me! This was a lot of fun. I look forward to catching up with you again in the future.

Shawna: Thank you, Spencer!

The Child and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two. ©2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Photo by Justin Lubin

Watch the Second season of The Mandalorian, now streaming on Disney +

For another Behind The Scenes look at The Mandalorian costumes, watch Disney Gallery / Star Wars: The Mandalorian, featuring commentary by Shawna Trpcic – streaming on Disney +

Creating the Clone Club: Beth, M.K. AND Tony

“I remember thinking, [the clones] are so different, we probably could have gotten away with different actors who look similar.” He shook his head and added, “I couldn’t see, at all, the same person.” – David Frazee, New York Times “The Many Faces of Tatiana Maslany” by Lili Loofbourow

One of Orphan Black’s strengths is Tatiana Maslany’s ability to transform herself into every clone and make them individuals. While these three clones only get a small amount of screen time they show off that ability.

We meet Beth Childs in the first episode; however, it is at the end of her story that we see, and don’t get to know her till season four. A detective and original member of the clone club Beth is responsible for bringing together much of the clone club, including Cosima and Alison. She also starts their investigation into Dyad leading to the rapid deterioration of mental health as she realizes what they’re forcibly part of becomes too much for her. She wears little to no makeup with messily arranged hair, and her business casual wardrobe is the epitome of practicality that reflects her role as a detective. Because of this practicality, she can hide the fact that she’s spiraling out of control to most of the people around her with only a slightly unkempt air and arrangement of her appearance reflecting that fact until it’s too late.

Beth Childs as M.K. BBC America: Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 1. Photo: BBC America
Beth Childs as M.K. BBC America: Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 1. Photo: BBC America
Beth Childs as M.K. BBC America: Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 2. Photo: BBC America

A loner and hacker, M.K. is on the run from Dyad after they murder all the other clones in her home country. She wears multiple layers covering up as much of her body as possible, an outward symbol of the fears and anxiety she feels from being in hiding. Another emblem of her fear is the sheep mask she often wears when video chatting with the other clones. A nod to the first cloned mammal Dolly the sheep, the mask also signifies her feelings that Dyad is just another disposable sheep in the flock. She sheds her extra layers when she faces her fear and anxiety and takes on Rachel’s appearance to protect the other clone club members.

Tatiana Maslany as M.K. BBC America: Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 2. Photo: BBC America

Tatiana Maslany as M.K. BBC America: Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 2. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as M.K. BBC America: Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 2. Photo: BBC America

Tony is the first and only transgender clone we get to meet when his friend sends him to find Beth and discover his origins as a clone. Not exactly on the right side of the law at all times, so Tony’s wardrobe of flannel, jeans, and a tank top reflects his need to stay on the move. His look is brought together with hair and makeup designed by makeup artist Stephen Lynch and hairstylist Sandy Sokolowski. Lynch used rabbit hair to create his goatee, and Sokolowski made a wig that went over only the top of Maslany’s hair, creating a mullet. Unfortunately, after finding out he’s a clone, we don’t get to see Tony again, but he opens up the possibilities of who the clones can be.

Tatiana Maslany as Tony Sawicki BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 8. Photo: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany as Tony Sawicki BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 8. Photo: BBC America

Tatiana Maslany as Tony Sawicki BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 8. Photo: BBC America

In my final article we’ll be taking a look at the clones who hold all the hopes and dreams Dyad had for the Lyda Project, twins Sarah Manning and Helena.

Want to know more? Check out my sources.

Miller, Julie. “Here’s How Orphan Black Transforms Tatiana Maslany Into a Cast of Clones.” Vanity Fair, 2015, http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/04/orphan-black-clones.

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning (right) and Tony Sawicki (left) BBC America: Orphan Black Season 2 Episode 8. Photo: BBC America