There are many things that catch the eye in The Witcher. Visually, it’s a stunning show, and we’re not just talking about Henry Cavill’s looks here. Part of the magic can be traced back to costume designer Lucinda Wright and the way she tells a story through clothes — one that helps make the show, and the characters richer. Fangirlish had a chance to talk to the Emmy-nominated artist (because yes, it’s an art) about her craft, and what it takes not just to create the looks we see on screen, but to make those looks fit the characters.
The first thing we learned is that for Wright, coming into the second season of the show, for example, it was “important, if not crucial, to remember the basic elements of color palette and silhouette from the previous designer on Season 1,” because “each character needed to evolve by the nature of the scripts and this was achieved by designing costumes which would reflect their journey.” This is one of the most interesting parts of costume design, the way it doesn’t just reflect the characters, but helps them grow.
For example, Wright told us that for Season 2 she “designed the armor for Geralt by still retaining his color palette of black with silver details in the studding of the leather plus a redesign of his iconic medallion.” For Henry Cavill’s Geralt, it was also really important to design a costume that would allow him to move, considering this is Geralt we’re talking about, but one that would also “showcase his unique physique and have the look of a killer of monsters.”
Easy, right? Think again.
Then there’s Yennefer, whose journey in Season 2 was reflected in clothing that “followed her black and white palette from Season 1, but I introduced the color violet to create a softer side and illustrate her loss of power/magic.”
Costume design also played an important role when it came to villains, like Cahir. Wright shared that she believed “it was crucial to intrude a new silhouette to the rising strength of The Nilfgaard. So, by using the original black color palette, I introduced the golden element in the armor with a stronger silhouette, a gothic influence to portray the power of the soldiers.”
All of these are things that we don’t always process as we’re watching, but that when done correctly, add a lot to the show. Is Geralt even Geralt without his armor? The answer is clearly no. That’s why Wright got an Emmy nomination, and that’s one of the reasons why the show is as successful as it is. And of course, for someone like Wright, it’s important to get input from the actor while designing a look for a character. “Generally,” she shared, “it’s necessary to see how the actor will move,” and of course, to listen to what an actor has to say, or what they feel comfortable with, because “it only works if they are happy and find a realism to the costumes.”
Wright, who has had a long career and previously worked on Doctor Who, shared that one of the challenges of working for The Witcher was that the outfits needed to be practical — while still looking good. Which meant a lot of work. “For Geralt’s armor, I created eight complete sets, to be seen through various stages of breakdown.” Each of them, of course, had a practical use — stunts, wire work, fighting, water scenes. And not just that, a lot of “ test runs occurred to get the realism and practically right for the actors.”
But it did work out, and everyone looked amazing while still being badass.
We, of course, had to ask Wright a fun question that ties back to her previous work on Doctor Who, and she shared with us that if she were designing for The Doctor with a The Witcher element she’d “use the black leather look again.” It would, of course, “depend on the actors’ silhouette and look,” but for Wright, there is a link between the two characters in looks and storylines.
And to end, we asked Wright to share her weirdest creative moment while prepping for The Witcher, and as proof that inspiration comes from the strangest places sometimes, she shared a story about how she was “stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway and thinking about how to portray the inner strength of Yennefer on her long black coat.” Then she noticed she was next to a biker, “a Hells Angels with amazing embellished artwork on the back of his jacket. Bingo, I thought, I would do a bejeweled, detailed backbone on Yennefer’s coat to depict her inner strength and it would look good too!”
It did look good. It also truly did what Wright wanted, as did all her costumes. We fell in love with the world of The Witcher and the characters that inhabit it, and yes, their costumes have a great deal to do with that. It’s the magic we never think about, but also the magic that the show couldn’t work without.
The first two seasons of The Witcher are streaming on Netflix.