Lucifer is one of the top-streamed shows on Netflix. The costume designer behind the series, Agata Maszkiewicz, sat down with ProductionHUB to talk about bringing these adored characters to life through their wardrobes.
Lucifer revolves around the story of Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), the DC Universe's version of the Devil, who abandons Hell for Los Angeles where he runs his own nightclub named Lux and becomes a consultant to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Agata looked to medieval and renaissance art for inspiration when creating looks for these angelic and demonic characters. The story called for a wide range of costumes such as custom suits donned by Tom Ellis and intricate leather looks for Lesley Ann-Brandt’s character, Maze, including a stunning black wedding gown.
PH: Hi Agata, how are you? Can you share a bit about how you got into the industry? What drew you to costume design?
Agata Maszkiewicz: Hi, I am great, how are you? I grew up in Poland and honestly, it never crossed my mind that costume design could be an actual career. I studied at a high school for the arts and began learning different artistic techniques in those years, but I always had a passion and love for fashion. I enjoyed designing clothes as well and made most of my own clothing growing up. By this time, my father was living in the U.S. and it was his idea that I join him in Los Angeles to study fashion, and that’s how I ended up at the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising. I was lucky enough to take place in an internship placement program while at FIDM and my first unpaid internship was working on the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back. It was such an amazing and eye-opening experience for me and I loved every moment of it. I met Ruth Carter, who was the costume designer on the film, and I thought she was a goddess and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
PH: Who are some of your influences?
Agata Maszkiewicz: I am in awe of so many costume designers and the beautiful designs and characters they create. I am always amazed by how they manage to pull it all off and this is especially the case for TV programming where you don’t always have the luxury of a long prep time or a healthy costume budget. Game of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton must be a superhuman in my opinion. Without her, the magical world of GOT simply wouldn't exist. I’m also influenced by Gabriella Pescucci’s work on Penny Dreadful, her aesthetic for that show was so deliciously haunting and I loved it all, I’ve always had such a soft spot for the Victorian era. I also admire Odile Dicks-Mireaux, who designed the costumes for Chernobyl, she did such amazing work capturing the feel of the 1980’s Ukraine. There are truly too many designers to name who do such stunning work, but they all inspire me, and the beautiful designs they create influence my work.
PH: Let's talk about Lucifer. How did you become involved with the show?
Agata Maszkiewicz: Lucifer was making a move to Netflix and was in need of a costume designer. I had worked with producers Ildy Modrovich and Hilton Smith in the past on different projects and they called me up and luckily I was available at the time.
PH: One of the really cool things about this show is that you get to create something completely new—where did you draw inspiration from?
Agata Maszkiewicz: It was definitely an artistic adventure creating costumes for some of the more outlandish characters on the show. For all of the celestial costumes, I drew heavy inspiration from a lot of medieval and renaissance paintings. My goal was to get the feel for what angels look like in our collective imagination and try to capture that angelic essence. On top of that, because they are warrior angels, I added some influences from samurai armor, vikings, and the Achaemenid Army. I tried to make them all individual in nature but still give them a cohesive look, they are family after all.
PH: Can you share some unique, minor details to the costumes that viewers might not notice, or understand?
Agata Maszkiewicz: One thing that comes to mind is that Tom Ellis as Lucifer pretty much always wears a suit no matter what shenanigans he gets into. So whether he’s fighting, dancing, or flying through the air he was in a full suit and we needed to assist with the ease of movement. For this we equipped his suits with four-way stretch gussets and on occasion made his shirts sleeveless and attached just the cuffs to the jackets to have the appearance of a full suit but with less constriction of movement. There are some funny photos out there of Tom backstage goofing around in his sleeveless shirts.
PH: Can you take through your process when having to create costumes for each character. What does it look like? Is it different depending on the character?
Agata Maszkiewicz: Everything starts from the script and the story that each character is telling and how we can use wardrobe to assist in telling that story. After conversations with the director and writers I usually create mood boards to set the tone; I like to put together various images and a color palette that captures the feel of the character. Then we make a plan on how to bring it all to life depending on whether it’s something that we will be shopping for or something that we will be custom designing or a combination of the two. Depending on what’s needed we will source fabrics and sketch designs for each look. Quite often there are technical issues derived from the script that need to be taken into consideration, like if the actors will be performing stunts, then multiples of the costume will be necessary. Sometimes harnesses will be used for the necessary action in a scene and clothes need to be rigged specially for that or any other special effects. All of these considerations may influence the fabric and design choices I make.
PH: Do any of the actors influence or help inspire your creations?
Agata Maszkiewicz: Of course. I always try to help tell the story through my costume design choices and help actors bring the characters to life. Each character has a distinct personality, and it is that personality that determines how they are dressed for sure, but I also want the actor playing them to feel comfortable in my choices and to feel like they are the right direction for the roles they are playing.
PH: Did you face any challenges while designing?
Agata Maszkiewicz: Lack of time is a common challenge. My assistant Sabrina Burns often says “If only we had another seven and half minutes we could do some amazing things”.
PH: Let's talk about some of the costumes you've designed for the show. What are they and how did you come up with them?
Agata Maszkiewicz: One of my favorites is Maze’s ‘Queen of Hell’ costume from season 5, which is only in one scene during episode 15; it’s a re-imagined version of Queen Elizabeth I. In the scene, Maze is trying out the persona of Queen of Hell and I wanted the costume to feel regal yet remain true to her character, while at the same time be a bit off and not too perfect, because deep down she doesn't want to be ruling hell. Using any color is a big departure from Maze’s usual palette and doing so created a feeling of an unfriendly lonely desert versus the fire-filled hell that she knew. Lesley-Ann Brandt who played Maze always had a strong sense of what felt right for the character and we talked it over and then she stood there patiently for hours as we bent wires and draped leather on her. My sister, who is a sculptor, actually helped me build the wire vest for this costume.
PH: Throughout the years, do you have any favorite costumes you've developed? Can you share why?
Agata Maszkiewicz: That's really a hard question for me. I love so many of the creations I have made but then I have to let them go and move on to all the new things to be done. That’s one of the best parts of my job, doing something new all of the time. I have learned invaluable things from each project I have worked on and I continue to be inspired and learn with each new creation.
PH: Finish this sentence...to be a great costume designer, you need to __________.
Agata Maszkiewicz: Be a good listener because costumes don’t exist in a vacuum, they are part of the director’s vision and also help the actors transform into the characters. They also have to work with other department’s needs like hair and make-up, props, special effects and stunts. I remember walking on to set for the first time at the beginning of my career and being amazed by how many people it takes to make a show, that feeling has never really left me, it’s a team effort all the way.
PH: (If you can discuss) What are some other things/projects you're looking forward to in 2022?
Agata Maszkiewicz: I am about to start a new project for Disney+ called “National Treasure” which is based on the movie franchise and revolves around a young Latina heroine who is a DREAMer in search of answers about her family.