Suitable Attire – Creating the costumes of Knightfall
Creating the unique look of the characters that inhabit Knightfall was a challenging task for costume designer Gemma Avant and she absolutely nailed it! Here Gemma takes us behind the scenes of bringing the costumes to life:
“For a costume designer, Knightfall is a brilliant and very exciting project to be involved in. Its world can be developed endlessly and that brings lots of visual possibilities. I was honoured to be brought into this passion project and to be trusted with the look of these characters, some of which had been kept back in development for years.
I worked closely with Ben Campbell and Pete Appleyard, who created the concept and script, in order to develop Knightfall’s characters from the script to the screen. The main basis for the design of the costumes was in creating a blend of the modern and the medieval. I was very excited to be able to do this, as it was a concept I had been toying around with in the back of sketchbooks for a while. Yet I was also very aware that if I couldn’t be original enough in my designs, that a hybrid of those eras could have very easily highlighted our budget size.
Yes, we were on a small budget, but the modern/medieval setting is at the heart of what we want to create, and not a poor mans version of a period film. The language within the script also plays with this modern medieval mindset. This is what gave so much room to experiment with. When I look back at some the very first script response sketches I did for this, it was far too timid and I could take the modern element way further. From that point on I used medieval fashions as a point of reference only, and focused on finding modern equivalents to period attire.
For me, the characters’ clothing developed with their own histories. As back-stories and possible future developments came into play, the basic look for what that person would then be wearing would form. This worked really well, and developed the relate-able personalities rather than the stereotypical stock characters; the Wolf tribe have a far too human side to just wear fur bodysuits and I don’t see this Princess as one for drifting about in a pretty dress. The characters are in a medieval style world, their surroundings have none of the modern frills and technologies but their personalities are of our time.
The three knights, for example. As the central characters, their look is critical. Their design was spurred on in what we wanted from them, which was for them to be the medieval knights in shining armour, but without the medieval shining armour. The world we were creating had moved on from that time, at least in the fashion department! They needed to be slicker and more mobile, yet built to defend from the same weapons, as we wanted to keep the swords, axes and arrows.
The first imaginings of their characters used bullet proof vests, which I looked to move away from as we were not using guns, doesn’t protect enough of the body for sword fights and created a look too reminiscent of modern day soldiers. The other place modern armours are used is in protective sportswear which meant looking into contact sports such as rugby, boxing and martial arts and in that way we stumbled upon motocross armours. These had the perfect combination of being lightweight and agile, whilst having solid plates in the right places across the chest, back and shoulders.” – Gemma Avant – Costume Designer