The Forward-Thinking Costume Design of Amazon's 'Upload'

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Costume designer, Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh, is the creative genius behind Season 2 of Upload, which premiered on March 11th. 

This Amazon Prime sci-fi comedy follows a man living his afterlife through a virtual world. In this future virtual world, he discovers a new life, ponders death and even befriends his angel. The show stars Robbie Amell, Josh Banday and Owen Daniels. 

Farnaz was tasked with figuring out what the fashion of the future would look like. She did everything from shopping, to making, to repurposing clothing for this series. With the show set in the future, the job required her to research fashion history and new technologies, while also considering the effects climate change could have on future clothing. She had an eye and vision for every character and brought them to life in every episode. 

PH: Hi Farnaz! Can you share a bit about how you got into the industry, and more specifically what drew you to costume design?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: My love for fashion developed at a very young age. I knew since I was around 11 that I wanted to be a designer. When I finished high school I planned on moving to New York to study fashion design, but due to some family matters, I wasn’t able to go at that time. I registered at UBC to do my business degree and while I was there I learned about their design program for theatre and film which also offered costume design courses. I switched gears immediately and fell in love with costume design on day one. The idea of character development, telling a story through clothing, fabrics and colors, recreating historical garments and the endless possibilities of designing the future was so fascinating. I did my BFA specializing in costume design for Theatre and Film, started working immediately designing theatre shows and after a few years got a chance to design an independent feature. I continued to learn, sharpen my skills and work my way through the industry. And here I’m working on some pretty amazing projects like Upload and loving every minute as if it was my first day on the job.

PH: Can you share some of your influences? What are some of your favorite genres to style (and why?)

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: I tend to take inspiration from many different sources, it really depends on what I am working on and what I am looking for. I have a really vivid imagination and when I read a script the characters tend to come to life right off the page. I have these images of how I see the characters. I could be on a hike or walking my dog and something like the way a leaf hangs off a branch or the mix of colors on the path can trigger a series of ideas and inspiration of what direction I may go. For Upload, I took a lot of inspiration from technological advances in how materials are being made, their purpose and usage, as well as fashion history and advancements in how designs and use of clothing have changed over the last century. As for my favorite genre to style, I like them all but if I had to pick, it would be a tie between period fantasy, because it allows you to do period costumes but gives you an opening to really make it your own and redesign the past. As for horror, I am a sucker for a good scare. Although I must say both these genres do go hand in hand most of the time.

PH: What is your favorite costume from any past projects in the industry?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: It may be cheesy to say but I do love them all for different reasons. It is like asking me to pick a favorite child, which is really hard to do. But I will say the project I am on right now, one I can’t say much about, definitely has some of my top tens. 

PH: Let's talk about Upload. How did you get involved?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: I had just come off of Wu Assassins and had not yet decided what I wanted to do next or if I just wanted to take a short break. There was a bit of back and forth about Upload, then I didn’t hear back about it. There was a point when I didn’t even think I was going to get an interview so it fell off my radar completely. I got a call out of the blue to interview the next day, had to quickly prep, read the script watch the pilot, and so on. I met with Greg Daniels the next day and we had a really long chat about the show, what he wanted and what I envisioned for the look and it just felt right. I think I got the call that I had the job not even a few hours after my interview. It was fast and furious from there.

PH: What did the research for this undertaking look like? How did you prepare?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: The research for this project was very extensive, lots of reading research studies and lots of visual research. There are a lot of factors that had to be taken into consideration when creating a world that is set only 15 years in the future. You can’t go too futuristic but it can’t be too contemporary either. I had to look at factors such as the economy and socio status and how that would change. I also looked at climate change and how that could influence what we wear and how we wear clothing. Additionally, I looked at technological advancements and how they affect garments and fabrics. The use of technology to up-cycle or recycle fabrics was just starting to take momentum at the time so looking at where that might be in the next 15 years was also key. After considering all these factors, I had to look at how style and fashion trends could change, and how much fashion trends would recycle into the trends of 15 years' time. As we know fashion trends tend to always come back around after a certain amount of time. I also had to learn about the whole technology and idea of virtual reality and what endless possibilities it brings to the table.

PH: Can you share some unique, minor details to the costumes that viewers might not notice, or understand?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: Being that the show is set in the near future we did not want to go too futuristic with the show. However, to set it in a different timeline, we did make a lot of minute changes to the details of collars, hems, waistlines and closures that are different than the fashion of today. There are a lot of 60’s influences as well with narrower lapels, mini skirts and dresses. I was really inspired by the 60’s fashion and their fascination with futuristic fashion so I incorporated a lot of that in the looks, specifically with Ingrid. There are also three different worlds in the show and each has something unique. The New York world is dark, gritty, rugged and is very geometrical inspired by the city's landscape, whereas the LA world is soft, pastel, lighter in palette and much richer in style. And our virtual world is basically a melting pot of anything goes because in virtual reality you can be and have whatever your heart desires that you couldn’t have in real life, and be from any time period fashion-wise. You will notice that at Lakeview the palette is brighter and more vibrant than anywhere else.

PH: Did you face any challenges while designing? How did you remedy those?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: The biggest challenge for us was time. There was so much more that could be done and there never seems to be enough time. And me being a perfectionist doesn’t help the short time we have to prep the looks. I have learned to make compromises without sacrificing my vision which helps a lot. I also have the most wonderful and supportive team a Designer could as for. From my assistants Brandon Mark Peterson and Lux Petrova to my lead cutter Kari Appelquist, to name a few, I really am a lucky lady for their dedication and hard work.

PH: When you think about the future of fashion, how do you predict what that might look like?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: Well, trends tend to recycle and revive themselves every few years and I don't think that will change in the future. I think that at some point the styles will be influenced by some past decade of fashion or trends, and those influences will determine the look of the time. But I do feel that we are going in a direction that even though style trends may make a comeback, the materials and how they are made will be very different than their first time or even second time around. From 3D printed fabrics to fabrics made from recycled materials, and even smart technology fabric where it adjusts to internal and external temperature to keep one comfortable and much more, these are the influences behind the fashion of the future.

PH: Throughout the years, do you have any favorite costumes you've developed? Can you share why?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: To be honest they are all my babies and I love them all for one reason or another. I have memories attached to each and every costume that I have designed, good and bad, that I will cherish forever. And I have learned so much with each design that I can apply as my career moves forward. To pick just one is a hard task. 

PH: Finish this be a great costume designer, you need to _______________.

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: Listen. You have to listen to what the script is asking for, what the directors and producers want, what other departments are doing, and what the actor wants and is comfortable in. Then take all of what you hear and blend it in with your vision. We all as creative people have strong visions and ideas but to make a great project it needs to be a collaboration of the visions and not one person’s sole vision. With any creative piece when one piece stands out over the rest, it can overshadow the rest of the work and the viewer can miss something extraordinary beautiful because of it. To me, costumes are the silent storytellers. They complement the overall look and tone of the show while really helping actors embody their characters, and move along the arch of the story. That is why it needs to be an overall collaboration and that is why it is really important to listen. 

PH: What are some other things/projects you're looking forward to in 2022?

Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh: There are a couple of things: I am really excited for season 2 of Upload. I think the fans are really going to love it because we had a blast making it.

I am also super excited for everyone to see what we have been working on this year which is the live-action version of Avatar The Last Airbender for Netflix. As a fan and as a designer this has been so exciting to work on and I can’t wait to be able to share it with everyone. Lastly, I do hope that I can come back to design Season 3 of Upload. It really is such an incredible show to work on and to get to dress the amazing cast like Allegra Edwards, Zainab Johnson, Andy Allo and really everyone from the cast.

ProductionHUB ProductionHUB Logo

Related Blog Posts
DP Chat: Marcus Friedlander on the Cinematography of That’s A Wrap
DP Chat: Marcus Friedlander on the Cinematography of That’s A Wrap
Published on Wednesday, September 20, 2023
In Review: Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital Portable Handheld Mic Set
In Review: Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital Portable Handheld Mic Set
It’s always fun to start off with a few questions for our ProductionHUB readers. So I ask…when you are doing a live production what do you need or want in a mic? Is it how good it sounds? Or maybe it’s reliability? How about the initial cost versus performance? These are all common questions to answer because all of those things matter to production professionals don’t they? That brings me to the topic at hand — we had the opportunity to put the Evolution Wireless Digital Portable Handheld Mic Set from Sennheiser to the test, and the results were exactly what you would expect (spoiler alert: it’s great)
Published on Monday, September 18, 2023
How Nature’s Healing Inspired Indie Horror Gem ‘No More Time’
How Nature’s Healing Inspired Indie Horror Gem ‘No More Time’
Dalila Droege, the talented writer, director, and producer of the indie horror film No More Time, has been making the festival rounds. No More Time follows a couple who flees a big city in Texas, seeking refuge from a virus outbreak in a small Colorado mountain town. However, the town proves to be far from idyllic, with mysterious disappearances and unsettling characters complicating the couple’s quest for safety. As the husband and wife grapple with the virus’s effects, their actions take a dark turn, adding layers of suspense and intrigue to the narrative.
Published on Monday, September 18, 2023


There are no comments on this blog post.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.