Fashion & Armor: Find Out How Costumes for ‘Loki,’ ‘Outlander’ & More Come Together

Sci-fi Fashion Loki, Outlander, and What We Do in the Shadows
Disney+/Marvel Studios; Starz; Russ Martin/FX

Ever wonder how your favorite show’s costumes come together? Whether it’s superhero suits, period piece ensembles, or intergalactic armor, a lot of hard work goes into making up your favorite characters’ looks.

Find out how costumes for shows like Loki, Batwoman, Outlander, What We Do in the Shadows, The Witcher, and more are brought to life for TV, below.

This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Special Collector’s Issue, which is available for international pre-order online at SciFi2021.com and available nationwide on newsstands now.

DISNEY +

The Mandalorian

Full Metal Jacket “Is that real Beskar steel?” says an ornery drunk to bounty hunter Mando/Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in the 2019 premiere of this Disney+ space Western (which is also a nod to samurai films). He’s talking about the lone gunslinger’s armor, made of a superpowered metal that stands up to blaster shots and lightsaber strikes.

Style Points Mando’s outfit and the distinctive T-shaped visor helmet (which he’s not allowed to remove publicly) were designed by concept artist Brian Matyas and costume designer Joseph Porro (strongly influenced by the Boba Fett suit in Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back) and made by Legacy Effects. Elements include a wrist device for firing projectiles; a long-barreled blaster; and holsters for ammo, explosives and a knife. All help protect the Child, aka Baby Yoda (above, the precious cargo aboard Mando’s speeder bike in Season 2). The third season is scheduled to stream in 2022.

FX

What We Do in the Shadows

Purple Reign Befitting his status as the eldest bloodsucker, Ottoman Empire warrior Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) wears heavier brocades and jacquards. English nobleman Laszlo (Matt Berry) retains a haughty, vain vibe in dress, while his wife, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), a Romani who turned him, oozes sex appeal even in high-necked, floor-length gowns. The costumes must keep the actors warm during night shoots in frigid Toronto and, because the vamps fly, it all must work on wires. Season 3 of the FX mockumentary brings more hysterical hysteria.

Style Points To outfit the centuries-old vampires, costume designer Amanda Neale started by studying historical portraits; 800 years of European and Asian battle armor; and edgy modern fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen. As Nadja once said to Nandor: “You look like a beautiful piece of wallpaper.”

THE CW

Batwoman

Uniformly Perfect A bold new Batwoman deserved an equally eye-catching look in this CW series about the iconic DC Comics superheroine. In January, Season 2 introduced ex-con Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie), the first live-action Black Batwoman, to take the place of Kate Kane (Ruby Rose).

Style Points Costume designer Maya Mani wanted to create something reflecting Ryan’s “highly skilled” fighting style and “encapsulating her raw, athletic and passionate nature.” The suit, made by Ocean Drive Leather, keeps the classic red and black color scheme (save for that brash red wig!) but features laser etching for more visual depth and a stronger silhouette. The forearm gauntlets are redder, her boots are shorter and that utility belt fairly pops with color. It’s an ideal look for the unwavering defender of Gotham City. Season 3 is slated for October 13.

NETFLIX

The Witcher

Back in Black Henry Cavill dons sleeker wear that’s strikingly different in the sophomore season (premiering December 17) of the Netflix fantasy drama based on books by Andrzej Sapkowski. It’s a bold departure from the bulkier exoskeleton the solitary monster hunter Geralt of Rivia wore in the series’ 2019 debut. Chances are he’ll have just as much ease dispatching bad guys.

Style Points The muscle-y Superman actor spent hours off set in that early costume to make it seem worn in. Being a fan of the Witcher games and novels, he strove for a sense of accuracy. The black-on-black look had been designed to strike a balance between appearing dangerous and allowing for ease of movement. Cavill credits the suit with helping him get into character: “My body language changed. I was moving differently.” However, he often unintentionally busted out of it thanks to his buff arms!

NETFLIX

The Umbrella Academy

Crimson Tide “This might be one of my favorites; it’s almost like armor,” actress Kate Walsh says of this noirish red and black, nipped-waist 1960s suit look from Season 2 of Netflix’s darkly comic superhero saga, which premiered in 2019. Here, her character, the Handler (of the secretive agency the Commission), dresses up for a demotion by her boss — a talking fish named AJ.

Style Points Costume designer Christopher Hargadon studied magazines from the era and collaborated with Walsh. “With her outfits, there’s always something off-kilter which reflects her character,” he has said. “Something I love about Kate: She loves wearing hats and veils, things directors and cinematographers often hate and nix because they don’t work for lighting. But Kate insisted on them because they finished the outfit. That hat was off the charts. The first one wasn’t big enough! Adding in the kinky element, I used black vinyl on the trim instead of fabric.” The series has been renewed for Season 3.

Foundation Season 1
Apple TV+

Foundation

Galaxy Quest An epic science fiction saga based on the groundbreaking novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation premieres September 24 on Apple TV+. Exiles struggle to save humanity and rebuild civilization after the collapse of the long-reigning Galactic Empire’s royal dynasty, which ruled thousands of worlds. In terms of look, the novels influenced the Star Wars saga.

Style Points Costume designers Kurt Swanson and Bart Mueller (Kurt and Bart, as they’re collectively known) came into this project with lots of cred, having designed costumes for many visually stunning films; that list includes both Hunger Games: Mockingjay movies, which encompassed everything from the austere to the baroque to practical battle gear. Foundation fashions walk a similar fine line between heavy action and ease of movement. We even see a little of iconic fighter Katniss Everdeen in remote planet warden Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey). “We always look to the source material first and then work with the director” to home in on style, according to Mueller.

AMAZON PRIME

Carnival Row

Creature Features This steam-punk fantasy where humans and mythical creatures live alongside each other in Dickensian city the Burgue put very specific limitations on costume designer Joanna Eatwell. In preparation for Season 1, which launched in 2019 on Prime Video, she took a Victorian aesthetic and boldly embroidered fabrics, then worked closely with the makeup effects department to incorporate “wings, horns and hooves” where needed, she reports. One example: Mr. Agreus (David Gyasi), a wealthy satyr who moved into an elite area, mystifying human neighbors like privileged Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant). Gyasi himself added one detail to his costume, making the head of Agreus’ walking stick a panther. “I felt like that symbol matched his movement, power and drive,” the actor has said.

Style Points Eatwell had so many looks to contend with, she and her crew also put mannequins in wardrobe to see how the characters would look together. A good thing: Agreus and Imogen became a couple!

DISNEY+/Marvel Studios

Loki

Man of mayhem Costumes helped define the multiple versions of Norse god of mischief Loki (Tom Hiddleston; others played his clones) in this 2021 Disney+ series, which posited several alternative timelines for the period after the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019). In one, he was a lying, cheating President Loki (above, from Episode 5) — a version of the character that first appeared in a Marvel comic book series satirizing the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This look picks up the traditional green and gold of Loki’s robes and reflects those colors in a tattered suit. Of the shabby politico, Hiddleston says, “It was about leaning into Loki’s capacity to be a villain.”

Style Points Christine Wada referenced comic illustrations to fashion the look, using vintage fabrics to reflect the 1960s Marvel issues where the modern-era Loki first appeared. The designer calls Hiddleston the ideal collaborator. “Because he knows the character so well, if you give Tom the tools, he will craft them into Loki,” Wada told Looper.com. Marvel has confirmed that Season 2 is in the works.

DISNEY+/Marvel Studios

WandaVision

Color Schemes This feast-for-the-eyes Disney+ series, which premiered in 2021, pays homage to past sitcoms, with Marvel Universe characters Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) living in a strange reality that takes them through different decades of TV.

Style Points Costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo — who first saw reruns of classics like I Love Lucy and Bewitched in her native Mexico before moving to the United States in the ’80s — tackled everything from midcentury crinolines and suits to a maternity dress (the designer’s favorite creation of the series) when Wanda was pregnant with twins. After the action switched from black-and-white to color, Rubeo used a lot of red (naturally) for Wanda, aka “The Scarlet Witch.” The hue showed up in her lipstick and in her 1960s and ’70s wardrobe — which included one fiery Halloween costume.

STARZ

Outlander

Great Scot Breathtaking, period-perfect looks ground this Starz drama’s fantastical premise: A 20th-century nurse and eventual surgeon (Caitríona Balfe) travels through time and falls in love with Scottish Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan, above, in Season 2 with his clan’s tartan kilt and a basket-hilt sword).

Style Points Original costume designer Terry Dresbach, who worked on the series from its 2014 debut through Season 4, researched multiple 18th-century settings — Scottish clan gatherings, the decadent French court of Louis XV, the American colonies — along with Claire’s life in 1940s England and 1950s and ’60s Boston. “I didn’t design costumes. I designed people and worlds I knew intimately,” Dresbach has said. For added authenticity, the costumes maintain a somewhat frayed look because “people just didn’t have that many clothes,” she pointed out. “And what they did have, they repaired and patched. I thought that was a beautiful thing to see on camera.”