How “The Handmaid’s Tale” Costume Designer Gone from Schitt’s Creek Couture to Gilead Garb


Debra Hanson won Emmy last year for designing clothes for Moira Rose (Catherine O’Hara) and her “Schitt’s Creek” family.

“I had a project between the two [Netflix’s ballet drama ‘Tiny Pretty Things‘] so it didn’t quite go from one extreme to the other, ”explained Hanson. “But as I was driving to work today I thought that even though it’s in the sci-fi / fantasy realm, there is a certain kind of unreality to it. [series]. Where would you kind of put them, just from a design point of view, as far as some clothes are qualified, right? The interesting thing about ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ season 4 and one of the reasons they asked me to do it was because they thought I could get out of coding and change that, refine that and then explode it, you know?

(Spoiler alert!) In the recently aired episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” viewers finally had a breath of relief (a relative term, of course, as far as this series is concerned) as the severely injured June (Elisabeth Moss). , Janine (Madeline Brewer) and others eventually made it out of Gilead and attempted to find others, including June Moira’s best friend (Samira Wiley) and her husband Luke (OT Fagbenle). And that also means the hard covers and status theft created a new challenge for Hanson, who joined the series after three seasons already aired.

“I stepped up the color palette,” Hanson suggests. “But then I pulled out sometimes, so when they got into Canada, they’re not just going out in a disco miniskirt or something, it still takes a while for people to adjust. For example, if you didn’t have a lot of money, you would probably go to a thrift store or people would donate clothes through a refugee command. I believed they would gravitate towards something that would make them feel comfortable no matter how horrible it all was. “

And the set only grew in season 4, with new freedom fighters and opponents in the tale (Hanson estimates costumes number in the hundreds for his costume year), as well as parties. , farm tours, group therapy scenes and a particularly grueling courtroom. apparition in which the re-assimilated June finally gets to tell her poignant story in her own words.

“We researched international courts, which have very specific colors, and then certain things need to be placed there, for example, Serena [played by Yvonne Strahovski] and its change from black to gray and, at times, for Joseph [played by Joseph Fiennes] as well as. And then there was a little chat about how June should be centered, and she landed on the figure. Totally direct, no frills. And it’s very difficult to do, but I think we made the right choice.

And this being “The Handmaid’s Tale”, many scenes by nature cannot be so fancy in terms of clothing, and there are many steps that need to be taken, such as a notable sequence in which June and Janine find themselves hidden inside the room. ‘a tanker in their old Gilead outfit. “We didn’t know how many takes we could afford to do or how long it would take to do them, and how they would float or sink?” Hanson adds, laughing. “We had to bring in some guys and give us their milk recipe because I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is dyed fabric!’ You have pink milk! noting that her team made 10 copies of each outfit so they had a solid cover in case her contributions were messed up (forgive the pun).

But as many series can attest over the past year and a half, working at a steady pace during a global pandemic (even on Canadian soil) has a huge impact on designers, especially when working long days with it. fully masked actors. Hanson says, “They entered through an outside door into my dressing room, and having never met them before, you look at them even more closely because their body and their acceptance of the costume in their body, you usually see quite enough. easily. You really have to look at them physically and not trust the facial expression, so it’s really good in a way. But it’s exhausting.

“I have to say that the whole production and MGM really made us feel like we were taken care of, not just for the actors, but for everyone who worked,” Hanson warmly offers. “They had an amazing COVID team, and if you had financial trouble or needed help, it was available to you. They have been incredibly kind that they don’t do this just to protect their money. “

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is now streaming on Hulu

Read the Original Story How costume designer “The Handmaid’s Tale” went from Schitt’s Creek Couture to Gilead Garb at TheWrap

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