Interview with Strange New Worlds Costume Designer Bernadette Croft
“Actually, what I said is you… might want to wear your dress uniform.” – Lieutenant Ortegas, “Children of the Comet”
With dialogue in the most recent episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds bringing attention to the show’s costuming (in the form of Uhura’s dress uniform), I thought it would be an appropriate time to interview the show’s Costume Designer, Bernadette Croft.
Congratulations on being hired for Strange New Worlds.
Thank you! This is quite literally a dream job!
How did your assignment as a costume designer on the show come about?
I first worked as an Assistant Costume Designer to Gersha Phillips on Discovery for a few episodes in Season 1 and then co-designed a couple of episodes in Season 3. When Strange New Worlds came up, Gersha put me up for it and she co-designed the first episode with me. It was great to have her support!
What has working on Strange New Worlds been like in general?
I love that this series is episodic. Every episode feels fresh and exciting. Our showrunners Akiva Goldsman and Henry Myers are amazing collaborators and are such fans of Trek. This show feels so special and nostalgic. I didn’t watch Star Trek growing up but now as an adult, I’m hooked!
What was the thought process behind the new regular Starfleet uniforms in Strange New Worlds? And is there a reason why Chief Kyle is the only male we see who has a lot of black in his uniform?
SNW is based about a year after we last saw Pike on Discovery and less than a decade before Kirk is the captain of the Enterprise in TOS. The design challenge was to develop our own look but to pay tribute to the nostalgia of TOS. I know how important that is to fans.
The uniforms on Discovery felt more formal and structured with the high collar whereas TOS seems more casual. We kept the strong silhouette established on Discovery but lowered the collars and relaxed the fit to reflect the vibe of TOS.
We introduced a new red-and-black jumpsuit for Transporter Chief Kyle. The original Kyle seemed to have several uniform variations throughout TOS but we wanted to focus on that red karate style jumpsuit. We updated some of the design lines of the jumpsuit to make it more dynamic and visually interesting.
Were the new Starfleet EV suits based on any of the EV suits used previously in Star Trek?
Yes – the EV suits are based off the Discovery suits originally designed by Gersha Phillips. On SNW, each member of the team has their department colour reflected on the chest.
Is there a reason there are two different uniform shirt colours – blue and white – for the medical staff, and can you explain why the blue variant has such a prominent collar?
The medical uniforms are a fusion of Discovery and TOS. The white nurse jumpsuits are inspired by the medical uniforms on Discovery. The doctor’s tunics are influenced by the TOS doctor uniforms. Bones in particular had a round neckline with a black band.
For SNW, we have married the two uniform styles by incorporating a microprint. The medical symbol forms a subtle silicone printed texture on the shoulders and tops of sleeves. Jen Bowen, our Digital Costumer, came up with the idea of department symbols being the microprint on the new uniforms.
T’Pring’s costume seems a bit less austere than the other Vulcan costumes we’ve seen in Star Trek. Can you tell us where the design influences for that particular costume came from? And is the necklace she gives Spock intended to be a tracking device, like a Vulcan necklace in the film Star Trek Beyond?
The TOS costume that was worn by the original T’Pring played by Arlene Martel, felt fashion-forward for the time. Our T’Pring, played by Gia Sandhu, is a younger version, so we wanted to reflect the character’s confidence, intelligence and her cool regal demeanor. We were inspired by the original silver dress and created a custom digital print for embellishment across the bodice.
There were hints of purple that alluded to Spock’s observation that she was wearing “ritual mating colours.” We thought purple was the logical choice as there were vibrant purple sashes in the pon farr episode “Amok Time”.
The pendant was to reflect the triangle in the IDIC symbol “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”. It was hand sculpted by our Sculptor, Alex Silberberg. We know Vulcan is a planet rich in minerals, so we thought pyrite and black onyx would be an interesting combination. It’s not a tracking device, but that’s an interesting link and comparison!
There seems to be a mix of influences for the Kiley outfits, and the clothing worn by the Deleb on Persephone III is very nomadic-looking. What were the thought processes behind those costumes?
In the pilot episode, it was mentioned in the script that the aliens of Kiley had a 1960s influence. We leant into that retro-futuristic idea and focused on tailoring with a mid-century colour palette. We mixed in some sleeker sporty style shoes and accessories to give it an “other worldly” feel.
The Deleb aliens in “Children of the Comet” are a desert-dwelling nomadic race that have an earthy and organic quality. We needed the costumes to reflect their arid environment whilst also showing that, through their adornment, we could see that there could be cultural, family, social or religious status. Key Textile Artist Anna Pantcheva and her team used textile techniques such as ice dying, rust dying, silicone-covered fabric and embroidery as well as boiled wool manipulation. Our Key FX Builder Jennifer Johnson and her team pleated those beautiful travelling hats that were inspired by the Designer Iris van Herpen.
Can you tell us a bit about the cadet dress uniform and the civilian outfit which Uhura and Ortegas wear respectively during the barbecue in “Children of the Comet”?
We wanted to make the gag that Ortegas plays on Uhura an obvious one. Ortegas, played by Melissa Navia, had told Uhura, played by Celia Gooding, to “dress formal”… so that, she did! Our cadet dress uniform is quite bold and dynamic. We did a delta microprint in metallic red, which was a big hit. Ortegas has a very cool, sporty, badass vibe about her, so it was fun to dress these characters in opposite styles.
Will you be working on Season 2 of Strange New Worlds?
Yes, I’m working on Season 2, and we are currently prepping episode 8. The time has flown! Season 2 is going to be fantastic.
Thanks for allowing this interview, Bernadette Croft.
Live long and prosper!
Webmaster of WarpFactorTrek, Dan is an avid Star Trek fan who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. Also known as “The Scotch Trekker”, Dan has loved Star Trek ever since discovering it in his childhood. He worked as an administrator, for six years, on the encyclopedic Star Trek website Memory Alpha, which involved studying the making of the various series and films. He has been mentioned in the official Star Trek Magazine, has qualified from a Star Trek course run at Glasgow Clyde College, and ran The Scotch Trekker YouTube channel, which regularly featured live interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek.