Warp Factor Trek

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Star Trek: Strange New Worlds costume designer Bernadette Croft, a follow-up to when I spoke to her at roughly the start of the show’s first season. This time, we discussed some of the outfits that are worn in the first couple of episodes from Season 2 of Strange New Worlds: “The Broken Circle” and “Ad Astra Per Aspera”.

Can you tell us a bit about the Klingon uniforms in the second season premiere?

Yeah, it was such an honour to reimagine those uniforms. In Discovery, they’re very ornate and very detailed and very intimidating and imposing, and then the TOS Klingons were more humanoid and very simple and the palette was just black and gold. So, finding that kind of common ground in terms of canon was important. But our showrunners definitely wanted to lean into the TOS side of things, especially the palette, which was the black and the gold squared neckline, using certain key elements like the pips on the collars and the baldric (which is the sash over the captain) and the House badge on his baldric. So yeah, it was just like a nice, I think, homage to TOS, but still paying respect to Discovery in a way.

We needed to bulk the TOS-like Klingons up a bit and make them more intimidating, a bit more formal, that kind of thing. So, we used an exoskeleton piece over the armour, which was hand sculpted by Alex Silberberg, our key sculptor, and then Jennifer M Johnson, our key effects builder, put together the armour. Everything’s custom made.

The Klingon captain in the second season premiere, “The Broken Circle”

In the first episode, the captain was quite a large man and it took a lot to get him fitted, but in the end it looks great. I love the exoskeleton look, how it kind of reflects the ridges of the prosthetic. It was really cool to see what the prosthetics department did and they definitely did a few different types of prosthetic appliances for the different Klingons. You can see that with the rebel Klingons in the Cajitar bazaar as well. But yeah, it is really cool to see the Klingons back, finally.

The dress uniforms in the second episode of Season 2 look spectacular. Where did you draw inspiration from for those, and do you have a favourite?

Oh, thank you. Yeah, the dress uniforms were very colourful, very kind of formal and bold, and we definitely drew inspiration from “The Menagerie, Parts 1 and 2” from The Original Series, when Spock was on trial. In that, there was the trim around the neck and down the centre front, and so we kind of did our version of that. Back in the day in the ’60s, the trim was quite theatrical-looking — it was very thick — and ours is more tech-looking. It’s actually a vinyl cut-out, which is heat-pressed into the fabric, and then the rank on the shoulders is 3D-printed.

That kind of silhouette is more Strange New Worlds silhouette — you know, it’s got the sharp shoulders, and the actual cut of the jackets is the same as Admiral April’s costume. So then, in a way, this formal uniform just looks like it’s from the same world as Strange New Worlds. It just kind of makes sense that the formal uniform and the admiral uniform look like they’re from the same world.

An admiral’s dress uniform, a command division dress uniform, and a services division dress uniform (Paramount+)

We didn’t have a lot of time to prep, but it was cool to see the different colour variations, so each department has their own colour, and it was cool to see what it looked like in all the different colours. We haven’t seen the nurses’ one yet, and we’re not sure if we should make that white, or pale blue like what M’Benga wore. So, if ever there’s another episode, we’ll have to make that decision.

Although I’ve seen the long duty uniforms that some characters (like Una and Uhura) wear described online as “dress uniforms,” they’re completely different from the dress uniforms seen here. So, what’s going on with that?

The uniform that we’ve seen in Episode 2, I guess we call the “formal dress uniform”. And then the other version is the “tunic”.

At the start of the episode, I noticed that Una and her lawyer, Neera, are wearing quite dark outfits, and I thought that’s quite interesting because I know from the psychology of colours that white is meant to represent innocence, but you’ve gone the opposite way with having such dark colours. I wondered where that idea came from.

I guess we wanted Neera’s character to be really powerful, really feminine. But at the same time, I think when she’s on trial or when she’s in her office, she’s the boss and we want her to kind of really stand out. And I guess when she’s meeting Una for the first time in her cell, it’s kind of that first meeting. It’s quite a sombre moment because they’re kind of estranged, they haven’t spoken to each other for a while, and there’s a lot of unsaid trauma there. So, I guess we didn’t want to kind of steal the show for that scene. We wanted the characters to really have their moment, and then we really get to see Neera strut her stuff and show us what she can do.

Una and Neera in their dark outfits, early in the episode

Yetide Badaki, who played Neera, I think was so perfectly cast, and I just loved how she really played that long game of giving you those little key moments. She had it kind of like perfectly played out and then, right at the end, she wins the case. It was really cool working with Yetide and seeing all those beautiful jewel tones on her skin tone. I really loved her hair choice and I think she did a wonderful job. She’s actually like a Trek super nerd. In our fittings, she had so much to say about Star Trek, which was awesome.

Dana Horgan, who wrote the script, I think did such a wonderful job and Valerie Weiss who directed, did an awesome job too with them. It’s so amazing how thrilling those dramas can be when you just think, Oh, it’s just, you know, a courtroom drama. But yeah, it was really cool.

Warp Factor Trek will feature more information from this exclusive interview as the second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continues.

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