Crew Q&A: Costume Designer Antoinette Messam

Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week’s Q&A with Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency crew members. This week it’s Costume Designer Antoinette Messam.

1. Noémie L. via Facebook: Could you explain what you had in mind when you designed the costumes, what inspired you? (from the scripts, the books or just anything that influenced you) Good job by the way, Dirk’s jacket is already becoming iconic!

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Antoinette Messam: Thank you, Noemie — love that the #dirkgentlyjacket is becoming iconic! #workhardpaysoff The design process started with the scripts and creative direction from Max Landis our Executive Producer and writer. He writes very visually which helped me fall into the Dirk Gently world, which included colors and themes. It was then my job to bring his written vision to life. Our Production Designer Katie Bryon was also instrumental with the design of the series sets which helped me define the color palettes for the cast. A beautiful book on Havana, Cuba that I found on her desk had the most amazing pictures of cars and homes — I printed them off and put them on my walls. I now see that the colors filtered into Dirk’s, Todd’s, and Farah’s closets. Inspiration can come from anywhere…

2. ‏@djluongoart via Twitter: Where can I get that jacket and tie so I can cosplay as Dirk next year?
The jacket was custom-made for the series by Lewis Leathers in the UK. You can get a Super Sportsman Jacket in yellow, blue, or green — it’s the closest style to the one worn by Samuel Barnett.

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The ties were predominately the Paul Smith ice cream tie, the apricot tie, and one Frank & Oak pineapple tie. These were the favorites.  We realized we had a food/fruit theme going that was quirky and suited Dirk’s personality. Swear it was not intentional! Just happened #everythingisconnected.

3. @AF_ElijahWood via Twitter: Through 3 episodes, is there any reasoning to Todd’s clothing always being tattered and torn?
Todd and his sister were in a punk band in their youth and both are lean on money, especially Todd who helps his sister out and is fired in the first episode.

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He’s had his clothing for awhile, and consists of only a few pieces that he wears repeatedly; ” living minimally” was used to describe him in the character descriptions. Elijah Wood and I discussed in our initial fittings how far to take the breakdown and wear and tear of his clothes in the series. What you see is where we ended up, and with washing they gradually wear down further with each episode.

elijah-antoinette4. @phantessmagoria via Twitter: What was the design process like for the Rowdy 3? For Bart?
Bart was described as not caring about social norms, common courtesy, or laws of any kind, and the character Beetlejuice was used as a comparison. This helped me, and my very talented concept illustrator Christian Cordella come up with the beginnings of Bart: part homeless, not caring, changing her clothes only when she had to…

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5. ‏@schmiedesgruebl via Twitter: Why the switch from yellow jackets to green? Will there be other colors?
The color transition was a directive from our Creative Producer and writer Max Landis. The yellow was used because he wanted his character to “ pop hugely and appear as if a spotlight was on him,” and it’s also a nod to the Dirk Gently comic book trench coat which is yellow. The transition to green is because we wanted him to get increasingly more muted, to blend in with his surroundings.

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6. @essayhughes via Twitter: What things about the characters/storyline did you consider when creating the costumes, or choosing certain colors tones?
Creating these characters started with their character descriptions in the series bible created by Max Landis. Their actions helped to define the costumes. For example, Farah and all her action — and using Dirk Gently as the center of the color wheel blocking Todd, Amanda, and Farah around him for each episode helped shape their palettes. Bart and Ken were different — their adventures and action dictated their costumes and sometimes the colors.

6. @iamNathanCampos via Twitter: What inspired the style for the Rowdy 3, all four of them, Bart, and the Cultists? Their styles contrast Dirks’ pop palette.
These characters were created in the written form. My role as the Costume Designer was to interpret with the help of my team
what was written about them and help bring them to life. The Rowdy 3 were described to have a “wolf pack” mentality and living out of a Mad Max style van. They never change out of their leathers and greaser clothes, so when creating a look for each one I used this written directive as a base and designed a distinctive look for all four of them, adding fur trims and or colorful buttons to help define their personality.

The cultists are dark and dangerous yet simplistic, a uniformed look. This also started with several sketches and adaptations. There were many tests on different colors to find the right “uniform” for the “Men of the Machine.”

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