INTERVIEW: Costume Designer Rafaella Rabinovich Made The Perfect Costumes For Netflix’s The Imperfects

The Imperfects is a new series on Netflix which premiered in September. It’s the story of a disparate group of friends who develop superpowers. Rafaella Rabinovich helped tell the story through a varying sense of style.

Abbi (Rhianna Jagpal), Tilda (Morgan Taylor Campbell), and Juan (Iñaki Godoy) are three young adults who share a common need to use a prescription drug provided by Dr. Alex Sarkov (Rhys Nicholson). But when their supply runs out, each character begins to experience strange side effects. Abbi, the brains of the bunch trying to get into Oxford, is a succubus who releases pheromones that make her irresistible. Juan, a comic book artist, turns into a chupacabra and becomes known as the Terror of Tacoma. Finally, Tilda, the resident rebel and rocker, develops the powers of a banshee to scream so loud that she can destroy objects. Together, these reluctant friends will learn the truth behind their condition and face enemies.

PopAxiom spoke with Rafaella about becoming a costume designer and the story within the story of the look and style of The Imperfects.


Rafaella’s creative journey began with a gift. “When I was 12 years old, I got a Canon AE1. It was a beautiful gift. I still use it 20-some years later. I was constantly taking pictures of everything and everybody.”

“I went to art school for what I thought was photography,” she says, “but I was exposed to all this other stuff.” Her time in school helped Rafaella realize that “what I loved to do was frame a stage which had a lot to do with photography. So, to study set design, I had to study costume design and eventually fell into costume design.”

The move from theater to film and television was a pragmatic choice. “Capitalism is a very real thing, and there are some places around the world where you can live a fruitful life in the theater. But I live in Vancouver, where it wasn’t sustainable for me. So I ended up working for Cirque de Solei; I worked on two different shows while on tour with them. Then, at the end of my contract, I was offered my first job as a costume designer on a Lifetime film.”

About The Imperfects

The Imperfects team is Nomadic, and I did the last season of The Detour a few years ago,” she says about her initial connection to The Imperfects through Nomadic, the company behind the series production. “I interviewed with Dennis Heaton, who is the showrunner and writer. He’s incredible.”

Rafaella “read the pilot” before the interview with Heaton. “So, in the interview, I brought various references. Things at the time I brought to the table became the baseline for the show. I put my boards forward, and it was a perfect match.”

The Imperfects features a stylized mix of modern elements that keeps things visually popping and interesting. “It was a mutual creative decision to put forward something stylized. We did a great job of doing that without making it completely stereotypical. It gives you more of a feeling that, whatever your style, ‘I want to wear that.'”

“We block shot two episodes at a time. It was a studio show, so that was available. Sometimes I’ve worked on shows where all ten episodes are shot together because of locations. So, in those cases, we must know a lot in advance. In this case, we analyzed the script, had multiple conversations about options and then created boards to show the filmmakers. There are a lot of moments where we took that extra step to offer something more elevated.”

The Imperfects also tells viewers more about the characters through their clothes. “We wanted to offer color and personality. We told a story with Tilda’s jackets where we pieced them together as armor. There are times she doesn’t wear them. It has to do with her childhood and being able to open up.”

Wrapping Up

Rafaella is a self-proclaimed “visual hoarder” who finds it hard to pinpoint just one influence. “There’s so much of what I love about what the visual arts offer us.”
“If I had to think of one person, it’s Marlene Dietrich,” she says. “Her gender-bending ability and her consistent boundary-pushing.”

But Rafaella thinks, “A lot of what lives in my DNA is cultural. Israel is a hub close to Europe, and I had a South American father, so there was always a lot to look at.”

What’s coming next? “Nothing that I can talk about yet. Hopefully, a second season.”

Is The Imperfects on your watch list?

Thanks to Rafaella Rabinovich and Impact24 PR
for making this interview possible.

Read more interviews from Ruben R. Diaz!

Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.