THE MOST DIFFICULT DESIGN WAS IN “MISSING”. WE MADE AN ARMY OF BOLO’KAIs IN AND EACH ONE WAS DONE INDIVIDUALLY IN THE FITTING. A HUGE CHALLENGE AND SOMETHING I AM VERY PROUD OF.
“How about the weirdest one?“
THE WEIRDEST ONE WASTHE WRAITH QUEEN IN “SPOILS OF WAR”. BESIDES HER DRESS AND ARMOUR, WE HAD TO MAKE A LATEX VINE COVERING FOR HER SO SHE WOULD BLEND INTO THE CHAIR WHEN SHE WAS FEEDING THE HIVE.
“What is your favorite part of working on Stargate: Atlantis?“
I HAVE TO SAY THAT I ADORED THE CAST, THEY WELCOMED ME AND MY TEAM WHEN WE CAME ONBOARD WHICH WAS GREAT.
“How much of the final costume design comes from you, and how much is given to you (by the writers, canon, et cetera…)?”
I AM LUCKY TO WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO ALLOW ME TO BE CREATIVE , THE WRITERS, DIRECTOR AND I DISCUSS IDEAS SO THAT WE ARE ON THE SAME PAGE AND THEN I JUST GO TO TOWN.
Jedi43 writes: “What was the hardest costume to make for SGA and why?”
HARDEST COSTUME WAS RONON’S COAT IN “DOPPLEGANGER”. JASON AND I HAD NOT MET YET AND WE MADE A COW (OUR NICKNAME FOR THE COAT). HE LIKED IT AND WE WERE ON A PATH TOGETHER.
Christle writes: “How do you choose what fabrics to make the costumes out of, other than what you can afford, and do different fabrics flow better on different people?”
SOMETIMES I BUY FABRICS AS I FIND THEM AND THEN HOPE THAT THE SCRIPT COMES ALONG TO USE THEM ON. THIS REALLY ONLY WORKS ON THE LEAD CAST BECAUSE I KNOW THEIR CHARACTERS. AS FAR AS TYPES OF FABRICS, I MIX A LOT OF TEXTURES BECAUSE THAT WORKS BETTER IN HD.
Angel B writes: “How did you get your start in the Stargate franchise?”
I FIRST CAME TO STARGATE SG1 AS THE ASSISTANT DESIGNER TO CHRISTINE MOONEY. SHE DESIGNED SG1 SEASON VII/ VIII/ IX AND PART OF X. WHEN SHE HAD TO LEAVE THE SHOW THE PRODUCERS GAVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO DESIGN SG1 AND THEN MOVED ME OVER TO SGA FOR THE LAST 2(TWO) SEASONS.
“When you look at other shows do you analyze the costumes and clothes and forget to watch what is going on with the characters?“
IT IS ALWAYS A GOOD SIGN WHEN I DON’T NOTICE THE COSTUMES. THAT MEANS I AM ENJOYING THE SHOW.
“Have you ever looked at a finished episode and saw a mistake or something that you wished had never seen the light of day and said “oh crap that looks wierd.”
OH YEAH, THAT CAN HAPPEN. SOMETIMES WITH A LARGE GUEST CAST YOU LOOK AT IT ALL AND THINK THAT IT DOESN’T BLEND AS WELL AS HOPED. AND THERE IS THE ODD DESIGN THAT JUST DOESN’T WORK. YOU HAVE TO LEARN FROM THOSE!
“And, lastly, what is the most beautiful outfit you have ever designed for a Stargate character?”
I HAVE TO SAY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COSTUMES WAS FOR ADRIA IN “DOMINION”. I CREATED SOMETHING NEW BY BUILDING LAYERS WITH LACE AND LEATHER. IT IS ALWAYS GREAT TO DESIGN FOR BEAUTIFUL EVIL CHARACTERS.
Patricia Lee writes: “What inspired the beautiful maternity outfits for Rachel? They were absolutely lovely! She was stunning in them… did you design them or get them off the rack? Will you be continuing with SGU or are you moving on too?”
RACHEL WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR ALL THOSE COSTUMES. I TRIED TO KEEP THE ATHOSIAN FEEL THROUGHOUT HER PREGNANCY. SO WE MADE THEM ALL. SHE WAS LOVELY, WASN’T SHE? AS FAR AS SGU, GOES THE CREW HAS NOT BEEN DECIDED ON YET.
“Thanks for all your wonderful work on the show! In my humble opinion, the cloths make the scene!”
I HUMBLY AGREE!
Arctic Goddess writes: “Are you the one responsible for Ba’al’s costumes? If so, can I give you a huge hug? Those were absolutely fantastic! And, if that was you who got to dress Cliff, was he a good boy and wore what you told him too? I know Cliff is pretty easy going. I’ve been working with him on some Motivational CDs. He has a wicked sense of humour, so I can see him giving you a hard time just for fun.”
I HAD THE PLEASURE OF DESIGNING SOME OF BA’ALs COSTUMES. CLIFF IS A JOY AND COULD WEAR ANYTHING WITH APLOMB. I DID HIS COSTUMES IN DOMINION, THE QUEST, AND ALSO THE SHROUD.
Narelle from Aus writes: “Question for Val Halverson:
1. Teyla’s costumes while pregnant were stunning. Very flattering. Was that a combined effort with Rachel and yourself to develop costumes that were flattering yet also practical for a rapidly growing stomach?”
RACHEL WAS THE MOST WILLING PARTICIPANT IN THE WHOLE SCHEME. IT WAS FUN AND CHALLENGING TO CONCEAL HER PREGNANCY FOR THE FIRST 5 MONTHS AND THEN BE ABLE TO REVEAL IT. KEEPING AN ATHOSIAN INFLUENCE TO THE COSTUMES WAS WHAT MADE THEM UNIQUE. RACHEL WAS SO RADIANT THAT IT ALL WORKED
2. I’m not sure if you were involved in the costuming for Continuum, but what happened with Vala’s sizing on her main Goa’uld costume? When she first appeared I couldn’t help but audibly say “Geez, look at those!”
I DID NOT DESIGN CONTINUUM
3. With the amazing advancements in materials over the last decade or so, has this made your job easier? What has been the best new material advancement for you?
MY FAVOURITE NEW MEDIUMS TO WORK IN ARE LATEX (USED ON THE WRAITH QUEEN IN SPOILS OF WAR #412). AND I AM STARTING TO WORK WITH LASER CUT LEATHERS DONE BY OUR MODEL SHOP.
4. Odd question – Why is Rachel Luttrell always fitted with high-waisted pants? Her shape would seem to compliment hipsters similar to Vala.
IN SEASON IV I CHANGED TEYLA’S PANTS TO A LOWER CUT BUT SHE WAS PREGNANT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY SO WE HAD TO RAISE THEM AGAIN. SHE IS IN AMAZING SHAPE SO SHE COULD DEFINITELY WEAR THEM NOW.
6. I loved the detail in the Ori costuming. So few colours, but the textures were brilliant. Adria’s costumes were AMAZING! If I was still attending a lot of formal functions I would have asked if I could hijack her wardrobe. Is there a particular type of costuming you enjoy? ie: good ol’ fashioned peasants or the complexity yet beauty of Adria’s costuming.
ADRIA WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITES BECAUSE SHE WAS SO EVIL. BECAUSE OF THAT I GOT TO PUT HER IN A LOT OF LEATHERS BUT MAKE THEM BEAUTIFUL AS WELL. A DREAM FOR A DESIGNER.
7. Do you worry about any of the costuming dating? I use the series V as an example.
Congratulations on a fantastic job. Costuming can either add to the reality of the show or pull you right out of it. Thank You.”
THE COSTUMES ARE NOT AS EASILY DATED AS THEY DON’T START FROM CURRENT INFLUENCES. THE IDEAS EVOLVE FROM THE SCRIPT, THE TYPE OF ACTION, NEW ALIENS, WHERE WE ARE SHOOTING (TYPE OF TERRAIN) AND OF COURSE THE CAST.
Breeze writes: “Oh, just on another note some question for Stargate: Atlantis Costume Designer Val Halverson. 1) How do you guys plan out whose wearing what? Like who comes up with all the ideas?
AFTER I READ THE SCRIPT I PITCH MY IDEAS TO THE PRODUCERS, DIRECTOR, AND WRITERS. I THEN START SKETCHING, BUILDING AND EVEN TRYING TO REWORK SOMETHING WE ALREADY HAVE IN STOCK. SOMETIMES THE TIMELINES AND BUDGETS DICTATE HOW MUCH I CAN BUILD FOR AN EPISODE.
2) Do you gather inspiration off other shows i.e. Star Wars or StarTrek, maybe?
I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I HAVE SEEN THOSE FABULOUS MOVIES AND TV SHOWS BUT I TRY AND MAKE THE COSTUMES UNIQUE TO OUR SHOW.
3) Was there a character that you had particular troubles with designing a costume for?
I HAD A BIT OF A CHALLENGE DOING THE ALIENS IN “DAEDALUS VARIATIONS”. I HAD A DESIGN FROM OUR PRODUCTION DESIGNER AND WE TRIED TO MAKE IT COME TO LIFE BUT IT WAS A TOUGH ONE.
4) Out of all the costumes you’ve designed, which one (in your opinion) was the best one?”
I HAVE TO SAY THAT I LOVED SO MANY OF THE COSTUMES I DID FOR TEYLA. HER COSTUME IN “THE QUEEN” WAS FUN AND OF COURSE HER LEATHERS FOR OFF WORLD MISSIONS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A FAV.
Cheeky Lil Devil writes: “Thanks Val for showing two fangirls all your wonderful costumes. We were the ones that got terrible giddy at Shep’s uniform and admired Rachel’s lovely maternity wear. Still think you could start off your own maternity range of clothing, they’d sell like hotcakes. Have you always designed for TV shows? How did you get into working for the Stargate franchise?”
YOU ARE WELCOME! THAT WAS A FUN DAY AND IT IS ALWAYS FUN TO SHOWCASE TO REAL FANS! I HAVE BEEN IN TV LAND MOST OF MY CAREER AND SCI FI IS MY FAVOURITE GENRE FOR SURE. WHERE ELSE CAN I DO THIS? SO I GRAVITATED TOWARDS THE BEST….THE STARGATE FRANCHISE.
Wolfenm writes: “To Val: First, let me say like others have said, that Teyla’s outfits, while attractive in general (and I appreciate how hard it must be to make something that’s good-looking, looks “native”, *and* is practical for fighting in), were especially fetching while she was pregnant. In particular, I loved her blouses in “Quarantine” and “The Kindred, Part 1″, and I adored that long, black coat, especially with the silvery underdress in the latter ep. Just gorgeous!
THAT WAS TEYLA AS A ROCK STAR.
And I love the Wraith costumes as well, particularly the Queens’.
THE WRAITH QUEENS ARE ALWAYS FUN.
Todd’s also suits him very nicely, a good cut for him.
TODD IS ESPECIALLY FUN AS HE IS SO TALL AND REGAL. OH YEAH, AND EVIL.
I noticed that Michael’s costume was similar to the typical Wraith commander get-up, but something of a rust colour instead of black — I thought that was clever!
THANK YOU, AS MICHAEL IS A HYBRID I WANTED TO KEEP A FEELING OF THE WRAITH BUT STILL HAVE IT EVOLVE.
Now my questions:
1) I notice that Rodney is now wearing a plain cotton/canvas jacket in the field now instead of his leather one or his Atlantis uniform. What’s the story behind that?
WE CALL IT THE “MCKAY”. DAVID CAME UP WITH THE IDEA, HE DOESN’T GET TO CHANGE TO OFTEN SO IT IS ANOTHER LOOK FOR HIM.
And was using both “lamp black” and “ivory black” in his outfit in “Tracker” intentional, to make the pieces stand out from each other, or just how it worked out?
IT WAS NOT INTENTIONAL.
2) I like the casual, “alternative” clothes John wore in “The Shrine”, in his room. How did you decide to put him in such an outfit on his downtime — was it something Brad requested, something you felt best fit the character, did Flanigan have input? And is there a story behind the bracelet he was wearing?
AS SHEPPARD IS SELDOM IN CIVILIAN CLOTHES WE LIKE THEM TO REFLECT ANOTHER SIDE OF THE CHARACTER. JOE DEFINITELY HAD INPUT. THE T WAS HIS OWN AND SO WAS THE BRACELET.
3) For things like alien boots, do you have a cobbler on the staff, or do you use “normal” shoes as a base and just cover them with material?
WE USE MOTORCYCLE AND ROCKER BOOTS A LOT.
4) Expanding on Breeze’s q, what costume have you been the least happy with? And have you ever designed a costume that just didn’t work out at all when it was finally put on the actor?
SOMETIMES IT DOESN’T WORK OUT THAT IS TRUE, LEAST HAPPY WITH? IN “THE SEER” LINERA WASN’T WHAT I HAD HOPED FOR IN THE END.
6) Who are your idols amongst costume designers?
MARGARET ATWOOD IS THE BEST.
And do you have any non-costuming-related, fashion-industry inspirations?”
I LOVE GAULTIER,THOMAS WILD,AND BETTIE PAGE.
Smiley_face06 writes: “What’s the average day like for a costume designer?”
MY DAY STARTS EARLY (I LIKE TO BE ORGANIZED WHEN THE TEAM ARRIVES). THEN OFF TO MEEETINGS, DOING SOME SKETCHING, FABRIC SHOPPING, CALLING CAST, TALKING TO THE CUTTERS WHO MAKE THE SKETCHES COME TO LIFE, AND TOUCHING BASE WITH OTHER DEPTS, LIKE PROPS, THAT WE WORK CLOSELY WITH. IF A NEW COSTUME IS PLAYING THAT DAY I GO TO SET TO “ESTABLISH” IT. IT IS IMPORTANT TO SEE THE COSTUME FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE CAST TO MAKE SURE ALL IS AS IT SHOULD BE.THAT IS ABOUT IT.
Nyssa writes: “Questions for Val:
1) LOVED the offworld outfits in Season 4 and hope to see our heros in them for the movie(s)! I remember reading Rachel, and in particular, Jason get very involved in their costumes. Do David & Joe have less to say cause they don’t get to wear the cool “I’m from another planet wardrobe”? Or are they just not that into the whole clothes thing?
JASON AND RACHEL DEFINITELY ARE INVOLVED BUT JOE AND DAVID HAVE INPUT WHEN WE ARE DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT, USUALLY WHEN WE ARE GOING TO EARTH AND THEY NEED A NEW LOOK.
2) The “on base” Atlantis outfits & Teylas & Ronans clothes are pretty snug. Do you usually have to resize them throughout the season as the actors gain or lose weight? I know several of them have mentioned how good the Craft Service food is:)
NOT TOO MUCH AS THE CAST IS PRETTY CONCIOUS OF THEIR DIETS.
3) Do the actors ever wear their own clothes? I specifically ask cause in ‘Miller’s Crossing’ the pants McKay wears look like some retro sixties Herman’s Hermit cast offs. They were so distracting & they didn’t seem like something that would belong to McKay.
AS A MATTER OF FACT DAVID AND I BOTH LOVED THE NEW MCKAY LOOK. MCKAY IS PRETTY EDGEY YOU KNOW!
Mairi writes: “Hi Val, I love the costuming on Stargate! (I have a bit of background in the field but ended up with a career elsewhere *pouts*) and just have to tell you that I think the work you and your whole staff have done is fantastic!
THANK YOU SO MUCH. WE HAVE A BLAST.
Where did you get your training and how did you get into working for Stargate?
I HAVE A FASHION BACKGROUND AND JUST GRAVITATED TO THE FILM INDUSTRY AS IT GOT BUSIER AND BUSIER IN VANCOUVER.
What kind of a setup does the wardrobe dept have? Do you tend to build, or are you able to rent/buy for certain costumes? Do you contract out construction of some things that you need multiples of (BDU’s etc) or is all the sewing done in house?
WE HAVE 11 TALENTED PEOPLE ON THE TEAM AND WE MAKE IT ALL IN HOUSE, FROM CONCEPTION TO BREAKDOWN. AND THAT INCLUDES ALL OF JOE’S BDUs.
Where do you source your fabrics?
WE HAVE SOME GOOD RESOURCES IN VANCOUVER BUT I ALSO GET FABRIC AND FINDINGS FROM LA AND NEW YORK.
Do the actors give you feedback on designs or are they pretty much happy to wear what you give them? – I seem to recall some “interesting” discussions with stage actors over the years. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!”
THE CAST IS PRETTY GOOD, NOT ONLY BECAUSE WE BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER BUT THEY HAVE SO MUCH ON THEIR PLATES THAT WE TRY AND TAKE THAT WORRY OUT OF THE MIX. AND YOU ARE WELCOME.
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
Aside from all the cool costume creations and wonderful fashions that have graced our screens in the past, I’m still a HUGE fan of the BDUs! I recently had the opportunity to visit Mr Paul Brown’s Legends Memorabilia stand at Ms Tapping’s Con in London and saw close up the Blue BDUs, as worn by SG1 back at the SGC….Are these standard issue or did you guys die a navy one so that it would be bright for the cameras? The shade is a really light blue. Just curious! (…and where can I get a pair!)”
SORRY TO REPORT THAT WE DO NOT DYE ANYTHING. WE BUY THE FABRIC THAT COLOUR AND MAKE IT ALL IN THE SHOP SO THEY ARE NOT AVAILABLE I’M AFRAID.
Iamza writes: “How much freedom do you have to design costumes? Are there strict guidelines in the scripts for all the alien races, or do you just get a general impression (village peasant, dress accordingly) from the scripts, and otherwise complete freedom in the colours/patterns/shapes of the clothes? How much do you have to work with other departments (e.g. art dept/set visualization) to come up with the perfect costume? Is there one person in charge of making sure everything comes together into one cohesive design (costuming + set + ??)?
I WORK VERY CLOSELY WITH THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER, JAMES ROBBINS. HE OVERSEES THE SETS, PROPS, COSTUMES, ETC. AND SOMETIMES HAS A SPECIFIC ALIEN IN MIND WHICH WE TRY TO PROVIDE. OTHER THAN THAT I HAVE A LOT OF FREEDOM TO DESIGN WITHIN THE SCRIPT PARAMETERS. AND EVEN MORE WITH THE CAST;)
I really love the look of the new (season 4-5) Atlantis uniforms, especially with the bell-shaped sleeves. What inspired that change?
WHEN I WAS HIRED IN SEASON IV I DECIDED TO MAKE THE UNIFORMS SEXIER SO THEY BECAME MORE FITTED ON BOTH THE MEN AND WOMEN, AND THE SLEEVES MORE FEMININE ON THE GIRLS.
I’m rather unobservant, and have only just noticed on some photos that Teyla’s leather jacket has laces on the sleeves. Was that a conscious choice to make the jacket more feminine?”
ABSOLUTELY. WHEN I DESIGNED AN OFF WORLD LOOK FOR THE LEAD CAST I WANTED TO IMPART THEIR CHARACTERS IN THE DESIGN. TEYLA HAS A VERY DETAILED JACKET AND PANTS THAT ARE BOTH REGAL AND SEXY. MCKAY HAD SOME CIRCUIT BOARD DETAIL ON HIS. I THINK RONON WAS OBVIOUS. HE WAS A HUNTER. AND CARTER WAS MORE UNIFORM WITH SOME FEMININE QUILTING DETAIL. IT WAS FUN TO HIGHLIGHT THEIR CHARACTERS WITHIN THE COSTUME.
Stormy writes: “Where do you find your inspiration to create the pieces you do?”
IT COMES FROM THE SCRIPT. THE TYPE OF PLANET WE ARE ON WILL INSPIRE ME. THE ACTION OFTEN REQUIRES CERTAIN DETAILS AND OF COURSE THE ALIENS NEED SOMETHING COOL.
Bailey writes: “Do you design the costumes to show off an actor or actresses’ “assets?” I imagine you try to do this while serving the story.”
I DEFINITELY TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE ACTOR’s ASSETS. I WANT THEM TO BE COMFORTABLE AND FEEL THEIR CHARACTER IN THE COSTUME.
Is there explicit direction to show a little skin here and there or make the leather tighter? Or is it just something that is done so routinely in show biz that you don’t even think about it?
I DO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE ACTOR AND THEIR COMFORT LEVEL WITH THE COSTUME, BUT WE DO TRY AND MAKE IT SEXY AS WELL.
Have you ever had an actor/actress refuse to wear one of your creations because it was too revealing or they just weren’t comfortable in it?”
I TRY AND MAKE THE ACTOR AS COMFORTABLE AS POSSIBLE AS WELL AS GIVING THEM THE COSTUME NEEDED TO PLAY THE CHARACTER.
Enzo Aquarius writes: “Question for Val Halverson: In general, how long does it take to make a complex costume, such as a Wraith costume, and how much material is required to make one?
A WRAITH COSTUME TAKES ABOUT A WEEK TO MAKE DEPENDING ON THE COMPLEXITY OF THE DESIGN. IT IS GENERALLY THREE PIECES AND THERE MAY BE MULTIPLES REQUIRED. IT TAKES ABOUT 6-8 COW HIDES AS WELL AS CONTRAST LEATHER FOR DETAIL, GAUNTLETS, AND BELTS.
DasNdanger writes: “1. In the first two seasons of SGA, Wraith costumes seemed much more varied and detailed. Lately, the male Wraith costumes have become more simplistic in design (not in material), with little variation. Is there a reason for this?
I CAN’T SPEAK FOR SEASON 1-3 BUT WE FELT THE LOOK WAS GOOD IN SEASON 4-5 AND USED MORE SUBTLE DETAILS TO DIFFERENTIATE THEM.
2. It appears that the material on Todd’s coat has changed. Of the the three pieces on the upper arm (?epaulettes?), the center one is now smooth. Is this to signify a change in rank, or simply a design choice?
WE CHANGED A FEW THINGS ON TODD’s COSTUME IN SEASON 5, MORE FOR THE COMFORT OF THE ACTOR THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
3. Wraith finger armor thingys – what are they for? (NO one is exempt from this question!)
THAT IS A GOOD ONE! I THINK THEY ARE COOL BUT CAN’T EXPLAIN THEM.
4. Male Wraith – boxers or briefs?
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. I really wish I could think of better questions, but right now my mind is elsewhere.”
Dr. Rodnay McKay writes: “Who got the idea of the new suits, “striped jackets” ?”
WHEN I CAME ONTO ATLANTIS IN SEASON 4 I WANTED TO CHANGE THE LOOK OF THE UNIFORMS. AS THE FIT CHANGED I HAD TO FIND A SLEAKER WAY TO DESIGNATE THE DEPARTMENTS, ECHNICIAN,ENGINEER,MEDICAL ETC.
It’s such a good idea. And why only the Department heads wear them ?
I COULD ONLY CHANGE THE LEAD CAST SO IT APPEARS AS IF IT IS THE DEPARTMENT HEADS ONLY.
Which material are they made from ???”
THEY ARE MADE OF COTTON.
Erinblast writes: “My question is about Tayla and Kellers jackets, the women cosplayers are going mad trying to find out if these are original concepts or mods off of an existing jacket. Oh, and if so, what jacket?”
TEYLA AND KELLER’S JACKETS ARE A NEW LOOK THAT WAS DESIGNED IN SEASON 4. THEY ARE MORE FEMININE AND FITTED WITH A SLIGHT BELL IN THE SLEEVE. THE STRIPING TO LET PEOPLE KNOW WHAT DEPARTMENT THEY ARE WITH IS NEW AS WELL.
Montrealer writes: “Is there a reference photo library of all the Atlantis costumes? Will we get a look at it in some form or MGM have veto? Would be fun to have a photo DVD-RAM of the Atlantis costumes along with audio commentary.
SOME OF THE COSTUMES AS WELL AS A COMMENTARY WILL BE IN THE SEASON 5 DVD.
Which costume is the most time consuming to produce?
THE WRAITH ARE QUITE TIME CONSUMING BUT TEYLA AND RONON WIN IN THAT CATEGORY BECAUSE OF THE DETAIL IN THEIRS.
Which costume gave wardrobe the most headaches during filming?”
WRAITH ONCE AGAIN BECAUSE OF THE SNAPS, VELCRO, AND WEIGHT OF THEM.