Getting the chance to talk to the costume designers is always a privilege we don’t take for granted. As viewers, we see the finished product, but we can’t imagine the amount of effort, hours and persistence it takes to bring every nuance of a film or play to life.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with costume designer Dinah Pink, who collaborated on the fantastic HBO drama Lovecraft Country. If you’ve seen the series, you know how fantastic and amazing the costume designs were, spanning eras and even covering different genres, from science fiction to fantasy.
Lovecraft Land’s costumes are a visual treat (if you haven’t seen them yet, you’re missing out!) and we have to thank Dayna Pink for bringing them to life. And given the excellence of her work, it’s no surprise that she was nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award in the Outstanding Achievement in a Legacy TV Series category for the episode I Am, which follows one character’s wild, multidimensional journey (see below). We wish her well and have no doubt that she will be recognized for the incredible work she has done at Lovecraft Country!
Check out our conversation with Dayna below!
What attracted you to the world of costume design?
I started out as a stylist for a long time, about 10-15 years, working for bands and music videos, and first a lot of commercials, before getting into film.
We must speak of the land of love! What a wild and fascinating show, and I heard you were nominated for a Costume Designer Guild Award. Tell me how you worked on the series!
I knew the guy who ran the pilot project and he invited me to a meeting about it. I read the script, I found it very interesting and I went to the meeting – and that was it!
Clearly you had to cover different decades, know the social issues of each decade, and then consider history. What was your specific creative process for this project?
We wanted to set it in that time period, of course, because it takes place in the 1950s. But the nice thing about this series was that it also had a fantasy element to it, so we didn’t have to stay in the 1950s. We could take inspiration from other places, use slightly more modern silhouettes and fabrics, or do whatever it took to make the story stick. And we were not obliged to abide by the letter of the times.
What inspiration did you use to create the look of each decade?
We researched the era and took a lot of fashion magazines from that time, real photos of real people, and historical photos of different communities from that time. I’m inspired by fashion in general, and we also have to give it our own little touch, so it’s really rooted in this era and inspired by fashion.
The episode of Love Country for which you’re nominated, I Am, is about Hippolyta’s multidimensional journey and shows her in various costumes – Amazonian, futuristic, etc. How did you bring these images to life in such an amazing way?
It was a particularly difficult episode precisely because we were everywhere – we were on stage in Paris with dancers, there were warriors and astronauts. There were so many elements that we did everything at once. We made all the costumes in our own studio, and we did everything at the same time, and it was really hard, but it’s nice to see it all come together.
I love that you were able to combine so many different genres in this series. What is your favorite episode in such a unique project?
What made this series so special was that it was ten films – I really liked every single one of them! I really liked the Korean episode, because it was very similar to the capsule episode – it was all set in Korea, and it was really beautiful and fun. I loved the pilot, I loved them all, they were all different and wonderful.
This series was very different from those you have worked on in the past. Do you enjoy the challenge of doing something new, and is this kind of funk with multiple genres something you see yourself doing more often?
I really enjoyed the different moments, the challenges, the different things we could create, explore and learn. The great thing about my job is that they are all different, so you can go to different places and learn different things. We are looking for similar projects to designers. We get very excited when we manage to skip periods or discover a different place or trend. So I would love to do something that would allow me to skip my period again!
Is there a particular genre you haven’t worked on yet, but would like to one day?
That’s partly because of the weather, partly because of the script and the characters. There are so many elements to choosing a project, so it’s not just about gender, I think there are all these different things. The great thing about Lovecraft Land was the message and the creative opportunity – it was so interesting and important, and I was able to combine those two things, which was great.
How did you develop the main characters given their different socio-economic opportunities? Someone like Leti was always so fierce and confident, and it happened with the clothes she wore.
The nice thing about Leti was that with her we were not bound by economic constraints, because she was a girl for whom it didn’t matter how much money she had, she dressed well. We don’t know how she got her clothes and it doesn’t matter how she got her clothes, she was a girl who got what she wanted and was always beautiful. So we went for it and didn’t let that stop us from creating a beautiful wardrobe for her.
How many costumes have you made yourself? And how did you arrive at the colour scheme of some of the drawings?
We made a lot of costumes for the main characters. On the one hand because we wanted them the way we wanted them, and on the other because there were so many designers. There was a lot of blood, a lot of action, a lot of stunts, so you needed more than one, which wasn’t the case with two or three in the ’50s, so we did a lot, partly because of that, and partly because we wanted it to be exactly what we wanted it to be. It didn’t have to be exactly at that time, and we had some leeway.
It’s always interesting to see how the costumes are adapted to the complex situations the characters find themselves in. Many of the characters in Lovecraft’s Land find themselves in compromising situations over the course of the series, how do you incorporate this into their clothing? Make them functional and presentable.
I think you read the script and see what the character is going to do, and you project it knowing what he’s going to do. Are they allowed to wear high heels? Could it be because they’re wearing a tight skirt? Will she be wearing shorts? You ask yourself all these questions when you see what they’re going to do and what they have to do, and what the stuff is, and whether or not there’s blood, and whether or not it’s a certain color. You really need to think about their activities before you decide what to wear.
Do you have any tips for aspiring costume designers?
I think you should just say yes every chance you get! Whether you’re an intern or making a student film or whatever, if you want to get into the industry, it’s important to be there.
We hope you enjoyed the interview! Tell us what you think in the comments, or visit our Twitter feed @TheSeriesRegs.
*If you would like to see more of Dayna’s work, please visit her social media.