Best Scifi Costumes on TV

 

Luke Cage

Luke Cage makes this list not just because the costumes are beautiful, but because this is some of the most politically relevant costuming in the MCU. All of the costumes speak to the specific backgrounds and identities of the wearer, and were designed by Stephanie Maslansky, whose priority was keeping things casual.

Cottonmouth’s dapper business suits represent his aspirations for legitmacy, as does Mariah’s middle-class chic. Cottonmouth’s suits are carefully crafted to inspire ambition to the young people of Harlem, while Mariah’s are carefully coded to inspire the folksy warmth and political legitimacy she seeks to project to the community.

Misty Knight’s no-nonsense practiciality is what’s on display in her costuming. She is a competent detective who is sexy while not being sexualized.

Luke’s hoodie is representative of the anonymity he attempts to cling to while protecting Harlem.That hoodie full of bullet holes is a direct callback to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, (one of the many young Black men who have died at the hands of police and  vigilante shhotings in the US.), and meant to invoke a feeling of hope and strength to the show’s audience.

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Farscape

I think Farscape had some of the most imaginative costuming on television. There’s nothing on TV right now that’s come close to it. The creators managed to make the female characters both alien and sexy, while the men were alien and virile, and funny.

I think one of my favorite costumes was Crichton’s black coat, that he adopted at some point towards the end of season two, which created a very sexy outline for him, with broad shoulders, a cinched waist, and it flared nicely during his action sequences.

The creators seemed to figure out that black leather seemed to work really, really well in this universe, and so, just made an infinite variety of  these outfits for everyone on the show. There was definitely some bondage leather influence on the wardrobe.

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This is Scorpius, a half Scarran, half Peacekeeper hybrid, whose unique body chemistry requires a face mask, which gives him a sinister look..

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I especially liked this red and black number Crichton wore in season two. I think this is a Peacekeeper outfit.

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These are the Scarrans. They wear lots and lots of black or red leather.

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It wasn’t until the second season that I figured out that Virginia Hey, who played Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan, was also the Warrior Woman from The Road Warrior.

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Space 1999 – Maya

Maya, played by Catherine Schell, was the only character worth watching this show for, and the episodes that centered around her, were always the most interesting. For some reason, there was a thing about bird aliens during this time period, because Buck Roger’s had a male character that was kind of like her, too.  The only difference was that Maya could take on the shapes of different aliens. Still, she was definitely this show’s version of a Spock character, and the creators tried to differentiate her from Spock by giving her superpowers.

What’s interesting is the idea of a woman with the suggestion of mutton chop sideburns, who is sexy in a mainstream television show. But you have to remember, back in the day, these types of shows remained very much under the radar, as most people wrote them off as being for children, even if Space 1999, strived to present more mature themes. I appreciate it now, in a way I didn’t, when I was a teenager.

There’s also more than a little bit of Barbarella in her outfits and posing. In how she was prominently featured on the show. Space 1999 also starred Martin Landau, from the  Mission Impossible TV show, and Barbara Bain, who was also from that show.  I liked them both okay, and they really were too good for this show, but Maya was real draw for most people

The show aired from 1975 through 1977, but there was a definite 60s vibe in the setup, designs, and fashions, the were heavily reminiscent of Star Trek, which first aired in 1963.

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American God

I loved the costumes from this show. To go into the influences, and meaning, of the costumes, would require several posts devoted entirely to the subject, and guess what? I found one! My favorite is of course Media. Gillian Anderson is absolutely stunning throughout the entire season. A close second would be Anansi, and Easter, who had some wonderful outfits.

https://tomandlorenzo.com/2017/05/american-gods-style-costumes-art-direction-cinematography-analysis/

Suttirat Anne Larlarb is Series Costume Designer on American Gods first season, with Assistant Costume Designers Laura Montgomery, Brenda Broer, Sabrina Zain, Anita Bacic and Costume Supervisor Quita Alfred.

 

Notice the old world European embroidery on the lapels and cuffs of the Zorya’s   costume, which is appropriate, since she hails from Russia. The designs echo other  details in her home, which is old and shabby, but warm and comfortable, just like her attitude.

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This is Media as the late, great, David Bowie, one of several gay icons as she was dressed for the show. The others are Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland. Gillian Anderson proved to be  incredible chameleon, and this must have been great fun for her.

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Notice the similarity in costumes between Loki and Odin.

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If you look closely at Shadow’s suit, it has tiny little dots all over it. There’s such great attention to details that the viewer will almost certainly never notice.

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I think I already mentioned Easter’s slightly tattered finery. Notice the tiny frayed edges on her flower headpiece, and her matching eye-shadow.

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This is one of Bilquis’ outfits from her 70s scenes.

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The faceless men in white, with their jackboots, suspenders, and black hats were deliberately meant to resemble the Droogs from the movie, a Clockwork Orange.

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Outlander

Claire’s dresses are designed by Terry Dresbach and are one of the highlights of this show. No matter what era she inhabits,  whether it’s the American 40s, or 18th century Scotland, Claire is always dressed to the nines. There are websites out there dedicated to examining the fashions of this show

http://www.instyle.com/reviews-coverage/tv-shows/best-fashion-moments-outlander-season-2

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Downton Abbey

What I liked most about this show is that it told the story of this wealthy  English family as much through clothing, as what they did. And the characters themselves occasionally discussed fashion and how it was changing.

The time period moves from the turn of the 20th century, through the first world war, to the 1920s, and you can get a very good idea, not only of how women’s fashions changed over that time period, but more importantly, WHY they changed. Women’s fashions were often a response to outside events,   because, in the past centuries,  the vast majority of women’s fashions were designed by women, who were responding to the ebb and flow of historic events.

In an exclusive interview with MASTERPIECE, Downton Abbey’s costume designer, Anna Mary Scott Robbins, recently took a break from her exciting work on Downton Abbey Season 6 to talk about the signature styles of the women of Downton and designing their sumptuous, jazz-age costumes.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/programs/features/slideshow/downton-abbey-s5-behind-designs-fashions-season-5/

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Contrast the above manner of dress (from 1900 through 1910s) with the looser, lighter style of dress below. In the 20s, the world was just coming out of the first World War, when everyone, rich and poor alike,  had experienced significant hardship. With so many men lost during the war, it marked a significant turn, for women, as they begin to movie into the workforce in greater numbers, especially the women of the middle, and upper, classes, the kind of women who had been pressured against working before the war. The new style of dress was more practical, and business-like.

Take note that with so many people dead from the war, the servant class all but dried up afterwards, as they also moved into the greater workforce. The servant class, that had made it really easy to dress in the many layers of clothing that women required during the Victorian era, were all but extinct. Upper class women needed to be able to more easily dress themselves, and take care of their own clothing and hair, since, after a while, there were no longer such things as Lady’s Maids. Dresses and hairstyles became simpler. There were fabric restrictions during the war, so women saved fabric by raising hemlines, (which never went back down, and got raised again during, and after, WW2.)

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In one episode, we can  hear the women’s opinions of the change in fashion, when the younger daughters of the house model the new 20s flapper dresses for their mother and grandmother, who express shock at the flimsiness and skin exposure of the designs. The silhouette of the flapper dresses are completely different from the more modest dresses that came before.

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Star Trek :The Original Series

The fashion designer for the original Star Trek was William Thiel. You can see a lot of the 60s influence in his fashions, even though he tried really hard to make the outfits realistic. Still these are some of the loveliest women’s costumes in Scifi, all very feminine, with some beautiful colorwork.

The amount of skin being shown is entirely in keeping with the 60s era thinking, which was a reaction to the deep conservatism of the 50s. These fashions were considered very progressive for women, at the time. The biggest influence over fashion was the invention of the bikini, which was invented in the 40s, just after the war, but didn’t make its way to American shores until the 50s.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/5969957/weirdest-and-sexiest-costumes-from-the-original-star-trek/

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See the bikini influence:

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The miniskirt was a huge thing back in the 60s. There’s been a lot of discussion about how the miniskirt does not make Star Trek a sexist show.

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The third woman just appears to be wearing a one sleeved poncho.

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Into the Badlands

Being the only martial arts television series is a big burden, It’s important that everything be meticulous and that includes the wardrobe. i talked about this just a bit in my reviews of the second season.

The men’s outfits  feel influenced by the costumes from A Clockwork Orange.

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Even in the Badlands, people manage to find luxurious fabrics:

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You can see the Asian influence here, where there’s  a bit of Genghis Khan, Warlord, in Quinn’s outfit.

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Hannibal the Series

One of the best parts of this series is  looking at Hannibal’s suits. Hannibal comes from very old money, so I don’t think he’s making his wardrobe choices based on a therapist’s salary.

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http://ew.com/article/2015/08/29/everything-hannibal-wore-hannibal/

 

One of the few times we see Hannibal witohut a suit is in the season three premiere episode. The showrunner, Bryan Fuller, says he was specifically influenced by the movie The Hunger ,which starred Katherine Deneuve, and David Bowie.

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You can see The Hunger’s influence on Gillian Anderson’s look for the third season, too:

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In Hannibal, Gillian Anderson got a chance to dress upscale. Here she’s wearing a very modern Parisian look.

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