Costume designers shop for characters where they imagine the characters would buy clothes. That line of thinking has savvy designers going through the racks at Target for suburban moms and walking through the boutiques at Saks for executives.
Logical, but what’s a costume designer to do when the show happens to be set during the Renaissance, and the main character happens to be a pivotal man in history?
For Starz’s “Da Vinci’s Demons,” returning for its second season Saturday, March 22, it means creating. Da Vinci (Tom Riley) has a new jacket, since his last one was destroyed in the carnage of last season’s cliffhanger.
“He has an effortless style; no great thought goes into what he wears, but because of his remarkable talent and genius, everything he picks has a uniqueness,” costume designer Trisha Biggar tells Zap2it.
Da Vinci keeps a slim silhouette. The new jacket is dark brown leather with a brown wool jacket lining it. The knots Elizabethan sailors tied inspire the ornate sleeves.
His trousers hearken back to period britches. “They lace up at the front so they have an authentic fastening,” Biggar says. “His character is always on the go and having adventures and doing all of this great derring-do, so his costumes have to do all those things. He is almost like a ballet dancer, so his costumes have to do all those things.”
The new season brings new characters, including this Incan high priestess played by former Miss Bogota Carolina Guerra.
“There is no real written records of what the Incans were wearing at the time,” Biggar says. “All the research came from textile fragments and inscriptions on architecture, It was a lovely, interesting thing to be researching and to a develop a look that would be not just authentic but have a modern slant to it.”
Here the high priestess wears a miniskirt with embedded gold nuggets, “which the Incans liked to do,” Biggar says. “It was a status thing, the gold ornamentation. They put great importance on the fabrics, and that was the main thing that showed the status of a person even more so than the gold.”
Gold embellishments, such as this 100-year-old trim, also figure on Clarice Orsini’s (Lara Pulver) gown. This season she will be left to rule Florence by herself and her wardrobe reflects her emerging powers.
“As the series progresses, I thought it would be nice for her to adopt the Medici family colors, which are red,” Biggar says, “and I thought I would put her in a rust and gradually easing her into deeper reds and showing that she is now a much more important person in the series.”
Also showing his family colors is Duke Alfonso (Kieran Bew), the future king of Naples. He’s an ambidextrous swordsman, whom Biggar didn’t want “encumbered by a scabbard on either side of him.” He wears velvet, leather and gold trim, with fleur-de-lis used as studs.