‘The 1890s was a design dream’

‘The 1890s was a design dream’
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Christine Wada
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The recently-released Season 2 of Loki sees the Sacred Timeline in danger and the God of Mischief, played with gusto by Tom Hiddleston trying to repair the damage, with help from Mobius (Owen Wilson) and Ouroboros (Ke Huy Quan). In the fantasy-drama, there is much whizzing through time and space, from a glitzy movie premiere in the ‘70s to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Hence, research and designing costumes was fun, says designer Christine Wada, known for styling films such as Bridesmaids (2011), and The Terminal (2004).

A lot of that research is thanks to the incredible amount of actual film footage of ‘70s premieres, and still photography, says Christine. Speaking over a video call from Los Angeles, she says, “I landed on a photo of Donald Pleasence, and he had this shirt with ruffles. Immediately Tom (Hiddleston) and I gravitated towards bringing back the 1970s ruffle shirts. I thought who better to do that than Tom.”

Perusing pamphlets

The research for the 1890s Chicago World’s Fair, was thanks to the pamphlets of the time, says Christine. “I researched old catalogues from that era. It was interesting because there was not a lot of ready-to-wear menswear at that point. The women’s wear catalogues on the other hand, were incredibly detailed and fun to look through.”

Costume designer Christine Wada

Costume designer Christine Wada
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Though Christine says she liked the impact of the glamour of the ‘70s, in terms of execution and detail, the 1890s was a design dream. “To be able to work with milliners and embroiderers, finding those old fabrics and techniques that are barely used anymore, it was a fantastic era to recreate.”

Christine finds it difficult to pick a favourite character to dress. “Every character while you’re doing it seems like the most fun. I love them all.” If she had to, Christine picks Ravonna Renslayer’s (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) 1890s costume. “It was cool to pay attention to all the detail of that era, and all sorts of understructure. That suit is built on an old bicycle suit from the Victorian era, which ticked a lot of boxes in terms of research and construction.”

Pluming for colour

Figuring out the colour of the suit was part of the process, says Christine. “I was trying to figure out how to make the 1890s feel like colourised black-and-white photography. That colour felt like it had a coolness like Renslayer does. And is feminine and masculine, which is an important part of her character. That is why in season one, she has a coat that feels like it could be a dress or a coat. It is always the masculine and the feminine and that colour stayed true to that thread of her character.”

Fitted, not tight

Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Tom Hiddleston as Loki
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

For all who felt that Tom’s shirts were on the tight side, Christine says, “They’re made of a traditional Oxford cloth that you would see in the 1950s or even now. They are fitted specifically to him.”

Tom, she says, gives a lot of inputs. “He knows his character and physicality so well. If you pay attention as a designer to all that Tom brings to the table, it might not be specific to actual clothing, but it’s specific and descriptive through his understanding of the character. When you build a costume, having all that information allows you to be directed in your research and your illustrations and where you want the design to go.”

Tom Hiddleston (left) with Owen Wilson as Mobius in Marvel Studios LOKI, Season 2

Tom Hiddleston (left) with Owen Wilson as Mobius in Marvel Studios LOKI, Season 2
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Timely interventions

Victor Timely, an inventor and probable conman, played by Jonathan Majors, tries to sell a pair of mechanical trousers at the Chicago World’s Fair. Christine says the trousers were difficult to design. “It had to be held in a certain way, and also couldn’t feel like it was a medical device or sinister in any way. There were a lot of mechanical trousers out there from that period, but they were specific to polio.”

Christine says they were looking to create something that looks out of a “I Love Lucy episode, where you buy something off the TV (laughs) that has a little comedy to it. It needs to feel a bit like springs while still reading like trousers that you can wear. They should also not be too heavy to hold. There were a lot of different elements involved in designing those pants.”

Loki is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

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