You can watch just about any few seconds of any episode of Disney+s hit Marvel series Loki and quickly see what an amazing canvas it provides for artists like series costume designer Christina Wada. The series travels across time, space, and realities from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago to 79 A.D. to the destruction of Pompeii, all the way to the TVA (Time Variance Authority) the bureaucratic organization at the center of Loki that preserves the sacred timeline which remains outside of space and time. The series is a time bending visual delight.
Awards Radar spoke with Wada about her beautiful work on the series and where you start when creating the look for characters that span not only space and time but also often have their own variants. At the center of it all is research – lots and lots of research.
“You start with a lot of research and, like I said, obviously starting with the script, but then really getting in touch with the production design and where production design is going to go,” Wada explained. “Then doing an extensive dive into my research, which is really vast, which tends to be not only old movies, but art and photography, fabrics, and just architecture has always been something that’s meant a lot to me. I think that it shows in the TVA uniforms, there’s all these little sort of brutalist effects to those, or details to those costumes. It’s really about building a world through research, building that outline.”
Wada continued, “I wanted people to feel somewhat anonymous in there. So the color palette choice to sort of marry into the world and not let people, not let the staff jump out was very deliberate. But then it was sort of structured on like a DMV hierarchy.”
“I wanted to create also hierarchies within that system. I also looked to some of Apollo mission photos of the mission room to try to style something that’s basically a dress code, or a uniform, but how people always make things a little individualized. There was clear intent in not letting everybody be in a suit and a tie, and that some people had their jacket off and rolled their sleeves, or some people had glasses on, just to give it a more believability”
For season two the look of many characters have evolved, including Gugu Mbatha-Raw‘s Ravonna Renslayer, a former TVA Hunter-turned-judge. Wada discussed the origin of the character’s stylish look. “It’s a direct involvement from season one, because there was always this conversation about her strengths and her weaknesses, but mostly how she projected strength. And I think it’s kind of been a thread through, at least in my mind, it’s been a thread throughout season one, and season two is addressing power, and masculinity, and femininity, and what does that all mean.”
“This second season, just choosing the color palette for her was a deliberate nod to that interplay between masculinity and femininity, and also giving her culottes and pants, which is actually really a 18 Victorian era bicycle riding suit that actually existed,” said Wada.
When it comes to Loki (Tom Hiddleston), season two presented new challenges for the character and Wada as well, explained the costume designer. “You clearly see that he’s torn about keeping the TVA, and his friends within the TVA, but also leaking in some of Loki, and Loki’s decision making. If Loki can conjure up what he gets to wear, what would it be when he is torn between worlds?,” asked Wada. “So it was trying to give that TVA uniform a little bit more of a Loki intent, and giving it more moxie, the collar, which is very Loki, the upturned collar, and the big collar, giving it a lot more swagger, but having it still somewhat feel like a TVA uniform to a degree.”
“I think it’s my favorite thing,” says Wada referring working in the Marvel universe. While dressing characters across time and space is a great deal of work, those whom you work with can make it a joy. That sounds like the situation when working with stars Owen Wilson and Hiddleston. “They’re so fun,” said Wada. “you can only imagine that Tom being the most studious person on the planet just brings everything to the table, and Owen just being Owen. So casual, and so…”
“… It’s like East Coast meets West Coast. But both with huge dedication. And it’s such a dream to work with them because it gives you incredible guidelines for your research in a weird way, because there’s so much that’s already unsaid or unspoken in terms of how they’ve developed the characters”
Watch the complete conversation with Christine Wada below as well as an exclusive featurette about
New season 2 Loki episodes premiere every Thursday exclusively on Disney+.