'Supergirl': Costume designer Kiersten Hargroder says Mellissa Benoist 'looks good in everything'
Comic book fans are not people you want to mess around with. Driven by unparalleled passion and armed with infinite research, there are no lengths they would not go to in order to defend the “authenticity” of their favorite heroes. This is exactly why working on a superhero show or movie can be as stressful as it is amazing.
Kiersten Hargroder, the costume designer for The CW’s ‘Supergirl’ spoke with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) about the process that goes into designing costumes that work for the actor, the camera, and also the fans.
“Superheroes designs are challenging because the audience has more of a concept of how they'd like these characters to look, and you want them to feel included but also hopefully excited about a new character and costume. We work so hard to help make sure the costume functions for camera and stunt work, but also that the actor feels like a superhero in them as well,” she says.
However, she chooses to see the challenging work as a blessing and says watching the costume concepts come to fruition is incredibly fun and rewarding. “I think you have to stay focused on the story you are telling as opposed to the individual costume,” she says. “I always referred to the comic books for guidance, and was fortunate enough to be able to have access to the DC comic book library for every costume iteration a particular character was shown in! This provided an excellent baseline to draw from, and then I would work with very talented illustrators to help update them and fit them into Supergirl’s world.”
“Melissa [Benoist] was a dream,” she says, adding that the incredible actress who brings Supergirl to the TV screens looks good in everything she puts on and works so incredibly hard.
Since the goal is always to make the actors look and feel their best, Kiersten makes it a point to listen to them and make them to feel good in what they are wearing. After all, she [Melissa] is the one that spends the most time in the head of this character and she has to bring her to life everyday, so it is important to listen to her instincts as well, Kiersten elaborates.
Calling ‘Supergirl’ an incredible project to be part of, Kiersten says getting to work with the fantastic Greg Berlanti and Melissa Benoist was her good fortune. “The thought process for Supergirl's look was to honor the story through her superhero costumes and how to fit them all into this world that we created. We try not to take away from Supergirl, because it is HER story! Supergirl's superhero costume was designed by the iconic Colleen Atwood, and it was through her that I became part of the show!”
Working on the show helped her hone her manufacturing skills and trust her design instincts, says Kiersten. She added that the costume department made every aspect of the costumes from scratch, including picking out every element and dying all the colors of the fabrics. She says, “It is all meticulously crafted. It is incredibly fun and rewarding to work in this way and deal with all the skilled craftspeople and vendors that we work with to manufacture all the elements. It takes so many people to bring these costumes to life!”
This is especially true for some of the more futuristic and crazy otherworldly characters on the show. She says that the costume for Martian Manhunter J’onn J’onnz, played by the brilliant David Harewood, is one of the costumes that she is incredibly proud of. “David wears it with pride,” she gushes, adding that there is even a figurine that DC sells of the costume for him that she created.
'Supergirl' airs Sundays on The CW at 8/7c.