One of the things that make the world of movies and TV Shows so special are costumes and set pieces, and the superhero genre is notable for including superhero costumes. Some of them become iconic parts of pop culture, and some find themselves the target of ridicule. We had an opportunity to have a chat with Lusi Huber, a distinguished contributor for elementalspot.com, an esteemed platform that specializes in movie and TV show fashion, costume design, and set design. So naturally, we asked what kind she expects in the future and what kind of trends we need to look out for.
Fiction Horizon: As a fashion stylist and writer at Elemental Spot, you have one of the most interesting jobs in the world. What sparked your interest in focusing specifically on fashion, costume design, and set design in movies and TV shows?
Lusi Huber: I think my love for fashion began at a very young age, even in preschool. And by that, I don’t just mean dressing trendily, but rather experimenting. I enjoyed wearing mismatched socks, and my mom thought it was cool and creative. She encouraged me to develop my own style.
In my little fashion world, I felt validated. Later, during my school years, I signed up for a theater course and enjoyed working on costumes. Although I eventually studied literature, my focus remained on fashion, costume design, and cinema.
Obviously, most pieces on the set are there for a very good reason because they are part of a specific narrative. Could you provide some insights into the process of analyzing and critiquing the fashion and costume choices in film and television?
Clothing is never randomly placed on set – if that’s the case, something has gone wrong. Costumes play a crucial role in developing characters and storylines.
They are not just about dressing characters but significantly contribute to the overall production. As a fashion stylist and author at Elemental Spot, I have a purposeful and open perspective on the process of analyzing and critiquing fashion and costume choices in film and television.
First and foremost, it is important for me as a critic to have a clear objective. Do I want to conduct a detailed costume design analysis, where the costume itself is the focus, or do I want to examine everyday fashion inspired by fictional characters, with the viewers in mind?
In a costume design analysis, the question arises of what message the costume should convey. Should it support the fictional world, represent historical context, or dress the characters realistically?
On the other hand, when analyzing the fashion style that is meant to serve as inspiration for us, my approach changes. Here, it is about learning as viewers how we can dress in a similar manner. Especially with TV series characters who are present over multiple seasons, there is often a trend observed that influences the real fashion world.
What are some of the key elements you take into account when you’re evaluating both the cosmetic value of clothing pieces and furniture and their overall message and effectiveness?
How expressive they are. And by that, I don’t just mean the expression of the individual piece isolated from its wearer or the film set, but rather how expressive it is for the entire film or overall impact.
Can you share the best and the worst example of a movie or TV show where the fashion or costume design had a significant impact on the overall success of the film?
Building upon the previous question, I often like to mention “The Queen’s Gambit” as a recent good example where everything came together perfectly, including interior design and fashion. It was so expressive that it brought chess, retro wallpapers, and retro clothing into everyday life.
As for a bad example, we tend to forget such instances. However, in general, I consider it bad when a character in a historical drama wears a costume that doesn’t match the time period. The fabrics, patterns, and cuts are incorrect, making them appear completely inauthentic. There have been rare examples where such inaccuracies led to failure, although the overall concept and production were usually the main reasons for failure.
What is your favorite piece of clothing (and furniture!) you’ve seen in a movie and TV Show?
My favorite clothing item is the red jacket worn by Tyler Durden in the movie “Fight Club.” Although I’m a woman, that jacket left a great impression on me due to Tyler’s iconic character. As for the furniture piece, my favorite is the LC2 Arm Chair by Le Corbusier. It has been featured multiple times on the big screen, and I particularly loved it in “Sherlock.”
Are there any specific directors, costume designers, or fashion stylists who have influenced your approach or whose work you admire?
Yes, there are many. However, if I had to narrow it down to someone who focuses on costume design, I would mention Tim Burton and Colleen Atwood as examples. Colleen Atwood is an outstanding costume designer who has collaborated with directors like Tim Burton, and I greatly admire her work.
Apart from costume designers, I also find Coco Chanel as a fashion designer very inspiring. Her revolutionary designs and vision have had a lasting impact on the fashion world, and I admire her creative approach and influence on the fashion industry.
In your opinion, do real-world fashion trends influence the cinema, and to what extent? Would you consider this good or bad?
I would say it is rather the other way around – cinema often sets the fashion trends, and it is often done consciously, as the entire industry is involved. One could say that films and TV series often serve as a form of advertising platform.
At the same time, the real world also influences cinema and fashion since movies depict real life. This interplay between cinema and fashion, in my opinion, is good as it serves as a driving force in the creative process.
How do you think the role of fashion and costume design in movies and TV shows has evolved over the years?
In the past, cinema was an admired fictional world, but nowadays, the boundaries are slowly fading. Generation Y, the first digital natives, already live in the metaverse, where digital and real identities are both part of their personalities. This has led to trends like cosplay, dressing up, and character replication.
Does the clothing choice have more to convey today than it could convey in, let’s say, the ’70?
No. In fact, the ’70s were an incredibly creative time when people often created their own clothing instead of simply buying it. It was common to have a personal tailor or sewing machine. In today’s consumer society, however, clothing is often purchased and discarded.
Expression through clothing frequently serves the brand rather than one’s own personality.
However, there are new trends that aim to signify the opposite. We are already seeing these “non-consumption” trends, which often symbolize a departure from consumption and sometimes express a void in style. But I believe that will change, and these trends will find a new expression in the future.
What’s your opinion on CGI and other techniques that make “the set” redundant?
Taking it a step further, I would mention AI. The influence of AI will definitely be significant, not just for set design but also for many other aspects of life. AI will also lead to CGI becoming unnecessary, similar to how CGI has changed the traditional set design.
However, life goes on, and it is important to be part of this process and not lose the creative thread. It is up to us to use AI as a tool and ensure that we continue to bring our own creative vision and human perspective into the process.