feature The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy

By Anna Wyckoff | March 27, 2019

The Umbrella Academy

When Costume Designer Christopher Hargadon first came across The Umbrella Academy graphic novel, he was intrigued. “I found it hilarious, dark, funny, and also beautifully illustrated and really imaginative. When the show came up I was excited because I felt like there were a lot of possibilities for interesting, out of the box design, and that turned out to be completely true.”

Transforming comic book illustrations into three-dimensional costumes meant inevitable changes, but Hargadon took pains to respect the original material. He credits showrunner Steve Blackman and the script for giving him the space to inject his own creativity into the project. “Steve let me go with the ideas I had to flesh out the characters. I tried my very best to honor what had come before. If you’ve got a good script, it plays in front of you, the characters bounce off the page.”

The costumes include a school uniform for the principals during flashback sequences, which required reimagining from the source material to track on film, and unique looks for each of the characters as adult superheroes. The other leads needed similar specialized attention. Hargadon describes developing the costume for Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) as an evolution. He used brass elements on a masculine suit to underscore its hard edge, then added bustier for an ultimately feminine look. “I made up a myriad of things. When I finally had a chance to fit Mary, that’s when the costume really came to life. In a nod to steampunk, I put this hardware on it. It’s one of those things that really came together in quite a wonderful way in a very short period of time.”

The other important factor was the creativity and passion of his crew. “It really helps to have wonderful people around who are also imaginative and have a great eye. The more people you have with interesting perspectives to contribute, the better the end result. It was a great group of people, a great storyline, great actors, and the directors were all fantastic. It was really a gift.”