From top to bottom, every look on HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant looks accessible. From Cassie’s coats to her blush pink dress from Bangkok, any woman can pull these off. And that accessibility, that connection with this character, makes us click with Cassie in a way we’ve never experienced before. This brilliance in character development is due in part to the Emmy-nominated costume designer Cat Thomas.
This essential part of The Flight Attendant team has left her mark on other movies you might’ve watched. From Uma Thurman’s yellow fight suit in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, to Sandra Bullock’s power suit for Anne Fletcher’s The Proposal. This amazingly talented woman as done it all and we’re honored to have a chance to speak with Cat Thomas about The Flight Attendant and what it takes to bring something so amazing to life!
1. What story were you trying to tell with the pieces you chose when it comes to Cassie?
Cassie has quite a journey and trajectory. She sort of goes from a party girl that we meet in the very beginning. And as we follow her through the story, or chase her, she definitely has a visual transformation while still retaining her unique style. So obviously, her coats, because it’s such a thing in New York, became one of the main visual through the elements. When we see her in the beginning it’s playful and she’s this party girl and we’re always playing with these boundaries where she’s trying to be sneaky and try to figure out what’s going on but she’s still in this coat, and as the show goes on the colors start to get a lot more muted, but you still feel Cassie.
2. What about her signature dress that she wore during her evening with Alex?
It’s a really important costume because it’s the one Cassie wears when she’s with Alex in Bangkok. Thinking about what that would be, and how that would look in that environment because obviously Bangkok and Rome because characters in our story, I wanted her to stand out with the dress. There’s this beautiful blush color slip that she wear underneath it. And I just wanted her to feel very special and have it have this sort of twinkle, this electric energy. Because it’s very sexy between Cassie and Alex and it really sets you up for what she has, which is kind of this sexy adventure.
It’s beautiful and sexy, the light of the dress, without being trashy. We didn’t want to set it up like…obviously she’s a party girl but we didn’t want to set it up like she’s trashy.
3. Was that your favorite look?
Oh gosh. That’s so unfair. [laughter] There were so many fun ones. It was such a fun character to do because she really was in so many different environments and different situations, that for me, being able to play and pull out certain kinds of toys. I couldn’t really say if I had a favorite. I mean the funeral is a lot of fun, her and Shane, that’s a really fun and different environment. I loved making and designing that cape and that sort of tongue in cheek look. But I also love some of her everyday stuff. Even the amazing jacket and pants when she’s riding around Rome and these beautiful boots, kind of always playing with this tomgirl chic kind of thing with Cassie. So they were a lot of fun. And I loved playing with stripes on her and different jeans. I felt like it was really fun to have a lot of different tools for her to use.
4. At first glance you don’t think there’s much to do with Alex but…he’s constantly covered in blood and still looks immaculate. How was that for you as a challenge?
Until we worked the kinks of how much blood and where, we ended up putting him in a linen…it starts in Bangkok so we had to put him in something to deal with the kind of weather he’d have to deal with in Bangkok. So he’s got these linen pants and we picked this very blue Tom Ford shirt; which is beautiful and very simple and elegant. Of course it was the one shirt to find impossible to find a gazillion or multiples because he doesn’t make that many of them and they sell out. We had a be little selective but I was really adamant, “If it’s one costume, it should be the perfect shirt.”
5. How was it working with Kaley Cuoco?
She’s amazing. I mean she was really involved, obviously because she’s an executive producer of the show, and it was a labor of love for her. But she loves clothes and she was very involved from the very beginning. We just hit it off and she was just really available. We would text each other ideas. It was a really fun and creative process with her. She’s also just looks great in clothes. She’s a normal sized woman, which I think sometimes people forget in our business. But she really is. She’s just got such a great body and really willing to go for it, which I think shows on screen with her acting.
6. We wanted to ask about The Flight Attendant outfit, because even in that, it was so simple and stunning…everyone looked so normal but also stunning at the same time.
It was a really fun adventure to go on. Steve Yockey, the showrunner had actually scripted that The Flight Attendant uniform was “a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress.” That was kind of the departure point for the shape of it. And we just spent a lot of time thinking about the airline and we wanted it to have this very luxe and old school vibe to it. Like when people used to dress up to travel and The Flight Attendant‘s were very put together. Without making it feel old fashioned, we wanted it to feel very modern. And I thought, “Why wouldn’t we design a great dress for these flight attendants that looks great at every angle and that’s interesting?”
The Flight Attendant has been picked up for season two on HBO Max.