Costume designer Meghan Kasperlik discusses influences for and differences in the looks for Moon Knight's alters.
In Disney+'s Moon Knight, Oscar Isaac rises to the challenge of playing scene partner to himself as he alternates between the timid museum gift shop worker Steven Grant and Marc Spector, the hardened mercenary-turned-avatar for the Egyptian god Khonshu, due to the character's dissociative identity disorder. And just as Isaac must sell the idea that he is simultaneously Steven, Marc, and the eponymous vigilante, so must the costume designer of the latest Marvel phenomenon, Meghan Kasperlik, distinguish the men through what they wear.
Kasperlik, who previously worked on sci-fi shows including the Emmy-winning HBO limited series Watchmen and Mare of Eastown, opted to dress Steven first, since that character serves as a window into the world of Moon Knight. When it came time to select the fabrics and textiles for his civilian clothing, the costume designer considered the climate and culture of the cool, hip Brixton district in South London, while keeping in mind that the character is "not at the height of popularity."
"The way it came together is I had a couple of vintage shirts in the fitting, and an oversized pant, and I brought in a clunkier shoe," Kasperlik tells Metacritic. "Oscar put it on and instantly slumped in the posture, and when he slumped in the posture, that really, really started to evolve who this character was. It helped us get to where we needed to take Steven in the first few episodes."
Dressing Marc — and by extension his avatar of Moon Knight — required loads more research. Isaac actually happened to have a special operations military contact who advised Kasperlik on the type of clothing personnel wear to disappear into a crowd, she reveals.
"[The spec ops person] told me, 'I know you probably want to put him in black because that is what everyone thinks is a disguise, but people actually need to be wearing tans, browns, charcoals, grays, and navies because that blends into the crowd more often than black," she explains.
Similarly, Kasperlik made sure to conduct a "tremendous amount" of research into Egyptian mythology, textiles, and culture — ancient, as well as modern — to ensure period accuracy and authenticity for the comic book character. With Moon Knight's costume, she said the goal was to incorporate references to Egyptian gods, such as through the vigilante's crescent moon symbol, which is an obvious allusion to Khonshu, the moon god.
"I love to do a tremendous amount of research, but I did a lot for the show just because, as an American designer, I'm not fully versed in a different culture," Kasperlik says. "So, it was really fantastic to be able to learn so much and then incorporate that into the costumes."
In the show, Steven's understanding of what Moon Knight looks like, complete with a three-piece suit that Marc jokes is reminiscent of KFC's Colonel Sanders, is Mr. Knight. With that creation, Kasperlik took the lead of Marvel's in-house visual department, which already had the base of what the dual white suits would look like.
"Going from there, I really wanted to make sure that there was texture in both of the costumes, creating synonymous looks for both personas, but also marrying the two," she says.
In the comic books, Moon Knight's suit — featuring the domineering cape and hood fit for an avenging rebel — is all white, but Kasperlik opted for a darker, off-white color palette to signal his direct connection as an avatar of Khonshu. The costume department then built Moon Knight's suit from a custom-made fabric, and opted for an in-house upholstery material for Mr. Knight.
Kasperlik also closely collaborated with the visual effects department, headed by Oscar-nominated supervisor Sean Faden (Mulan). But even all of the CGI characters' costumes, including Khonshu and Episode 4's hippo-presenting Taweret (the Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility), were "the real deal" — actually designed and worn by stand-ins on set.
"It was very important to Sean and I and his team that anything that I created, the fabrications would be true to what was built," she said, adding that much of the visual effects were relegated to the characters' flying and talking. "They didn't want to just start making anything that wasn't there."
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