Interview: Claire Anderson On Drawing Threads For the Costumes of ‘Good Omens’

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The highly anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett‘s novel of the same name, “Good Omens” is fairly faithful to its source material. The new Amazon series brings to life characters from one of the contemporary world’s literary phenomenons. With its own cult following, the artists on the production had a lot to prove. However, the books and script provided more than enough material and inspiration for the characters of “Good Omens.”

On “Good Omens,” the sky was the limit for its creative team. The series pulls fashion inspiration from every period in time, and blends a hybrid of the fantastical and the modern. Spanning for thousands of years, “Good Omens” follows its leads, Crowley and Aziraphale through time, up to the dreaded apocalypse. While many elements change over the years, one aspect that remains constant through “Good Omens” is the wondrous costumes that are presented, and there are quite a few.

Awards Circuit was able to speak with costume designer Claire Anderson, and talk about her experience working on “Good Omens,” her inspirations, and adapting characters from the page to the screen.

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Adriana Gomez-Weston/Awards Circuit: How did you end up getting involved in this project?

Claire Anderson: I got a call from my agent, and the team was looking to meet costume designers. The director’s (Douglas Mackinnon) regular costume designer, the one he’d worked with most often was busy. They put a call out, and they looked at people who had worked on interesting projects. I went in with a mood board, photographs, and a cheerful attitude. He said that he thought I was really cool and had good ideas.

AGW: “Good Omens” is such a unique project. It’s a combination of every kind of time period, and deals with more whimsical designs, as well as contemporary. How did you approach all that?

CA: It wasn’t daunting because the conversations between Douglas and Neil Gaiman were so broad and open, we began with the two principals (David Tennant and Michael Sheen). Once we had nailed their regular looks- Aziraphale (Sheen) in his slightly timeless look, and Crowley (Tennant) in more of a street style, contemporary look, we could work backwards and see where they fit into other parts of history. We set the tone with Crowley shielding his eyes because he still has snake eyes, even though he transformed from a snake to a human being. Little indicators like wearing glasses help tell the story, so that people don’t think that he is a snake in real life. It helped inform how we would dress Crowley through the different periods.

And of course, you’ve got color, which is key. The pale colors for the angel, and the dark for the demon.

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AGW: How did you approach Crowley and Aziraphale’s transformations? 

CA: We used a strict color palette and a similar silhouette through the ancient period. We’d accessorize their more modern clothes with elements we’d use all the time.  Aziraphale has wings, a harp, heavenly accessories. He has harp cuff links in many of his looks. In the ancient period, his toga is held together with a pair of wings. It was those kinds of things that would transport them through time.

AGW: I was also able to speak with Anne Oldham a couple weeks ago. How did you collaborate with her on the more intricate looks? 

CA: When it all comes off the page, you’ll see what Neil has written is very easy to decode. We worked with Neil, Douglas, and the makeup team very closely and discussed the characters’ looks. We both had mood boards. We’re both very respectful of each others’ areas, but of course they do merge. You have to work out how much the makeup and costumes are going to merge. Having great mood boards, and great conversation with out creative directors helped feed the beast that is this project.

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AGW: Did you take any inspiration from the book for creating your designs?

CA: I read the book, because you’ve got all of time to choose from, that it’s written, both Neil and Terry have noted aspects of the ancient world.

I used a lot pre-Raphaelite paintings, and Victorian paintings. Religion was still the key in UK society. A lot of paintings had an ethereal quality, and that’s very useful to draw upon for where these characters come from. Of course there are not really paintings from the arc or the Crucifixion. Nobody was there sketching that. I suppose there was no Instagram in those days. We could have used those modern recordings to collect information.

We went back to paintings, and historical documents and information. But there’s so much in the script, lot’s of things! There so much clever depths of knowledge in the book. Neil writes so deeply. You can always find a thread to draw something out for the costumes.

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AGW: What were some of your favorite looks that you created for the show?

CA: I had a blast, and I enjoyed every aspect of it. It was great fun working with the two principal men because they had a great deal to offer. They had thought about their characters, so they were really enjoyable. I love Madam Tracy (Miranda Richardson), she’s so eclectic. Her crazy, part-time sex worker look was very good fun. Also, Adria (Arjona) as Anathema, how can you not love designing costumes for witch played by one of the most beautiful actresses you could ever hope to work with? She’s very generous-hearted as well. I loved going to Zegna for casual suit shopping with Jon Hamm, he very good company. I mean, there wasn’t a costume I didn’t enjoy. We shot for a long time, and we didn’t have everyone at the very beginning. The process was that I was often out, away from the set, having to establish the new costumes. Then I’d have to move on and go back to the workshop, back to the tailors, and building the next set of fabulous costumes.

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AGW: How do you feel about having a hand in bring the characters of “Good Omens” to life?

CA: It is daunting, isn’t it? There were already cosplays. There’s the covers of the book over the years, especially the nineties that have explored the characters’ visual identity. I was just in such good company with Neil as our showrunner. I don’t think I was quite aware of how culty it was when I first read it. By the time I realized, I thought, “Oh boy! This is huge!

I think we had already dug in. The cast was happy and Neil was happy. We were moving along, and it worked. It all looked enjoyable. It was frightening, but I didn’t know at the beginning that I ought to be. The characters come off the page. The interpretation of whether Crowley was going to wear a suit or be casual , that kind of decision works itself out with a series of drawings and mood boards, the process of trying things on, and taking photographs. It’s also dancing around in fitting rooms to get the feel of each character. It’s like dressing up to go to a party, you know choosing the dress that creates the atmosphere you want to create for yourself as an individual. It’s the same doing costume.

Awards Circuit would like to thank Claire Anderson for taking time to speak with us.

“Good Omens” is now available to stream globally on Amazon Prime.

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