Star Trek: Discovery is the flagship show for the fledgling CBS All Access streaming service and making the show look slick and stylish is costume designer Gersha Phillips who brings decades of experience creating fashion for fiction.
Star Trek: Discovery survived crossing a galaxy full of geeks around the world who hold the Enterprise and the world of Starfleet very dearly to become a hit for CBS All Access. Season two, premiering Jan. 17, continues the adventures of the 23rd century, and Gersha’s mission is to keep boldly updating the looks of the legendary science fiction landscape.
PopAxiom spoke with Gersha Phillips and did a little temporal gymnastics to discuss bringing 60s fashion about the 23rd century into the 21st century.
Discovery is a movie-like TV show and so “For what we’re doing there’s a need to expand the look of the show.” Originally, it was re-thinking the world of Starfleet 10 years before the first series. However, as the end of season one reminded us, time moves forward and the new show meets the old. “For the enterprise, we didn’t do a lot. Obviously newer fabrics, but just evolved the basic look.”
A lot of people have taken note of the “desexualized” look of Discovery. The uniforms are non-gender conforming, offering the same general silhouette and the mirror universe, once the most risqué place in Star Trek lore, leaned more lavish than luscious. But what is sexy for Gersha? “I think people think sexy means you have to show skin. I like to think sexy is a presence of character.” With that said Gersha adds, “Everyone to me on Discovery is sexy by the way they carry themselves.”
Discovery is like several shows in one featuring diverse worlds across a massive new galactic community. So what inspires all of that? “In general, I feel like I’m moved by so many different things; traveling, experiencing new cultures, going to museums. I love fashion, so I try to see fashion shows. I love Alexander McQueen. Art is also a very inspiring thing for me.”
In short “The world is an amazing place.”
For Star Trek, Gersha continues, “The technology of the future is super-inspiring and exciting.” Every day we move a little closer to some of the realities of the Trek-verse “With this season, I had more time to think about what’s the reality of what we’re doing. What could the future really be?”
Gersha considered many things “ … gender fluidity and sustainability. Being more conscious of what we’re using and how we’re using it.” Because for her, it was about “Trying to design something that feels like it’s a future evolving into something that’s more … conscious.”
Here Come The Klingons
Gersha shares some insight on the initial look of the Klingons. “The first set of [Klingon] costumes came from Suttira Larlarb, and I think the original inspiration was conquistadors meets samurai?”
As every Star Trek show does, Discovery grows and evolves. “When we did Kol, we wanted to do something more traditional but also take into account that Klingons have double-organs!” Gersha turned to the cultures of the globe for inspiration “I looked at a lot of armors from all over the world.”
From inspiration to illustration to final product “There will be very specific ideas that I send to the illustrator. As we bring it to life, it sort of becomes its own thing. It pulls on so many different elements as the process moves forward. Even as we decide on fabrics, it changes and evolves.”
Star Trek: Discovery Season Two
What can expect to see in the upcoming season of the show which officially begins January 17? “We have Michael in a more traditional Vulcan look. We did some other things to expand the world,” Gersha laughs, “I can’t really talk about them entirely. But we do a lot of really cool new looks for what fans loved in season one.” About the rookie season of Star Trek: Discovery “It was the first time dealing into these things. Season two, we learned so much from last year, and we’re bringing more to the table. Evolving things.”
To hype up fans a little more about the upcoming fashion in the science fiction series “I feel like we up the ante and took things to a new level.”
Star Trek spans a galaxy of unique alien species with cultures all their own. But we 21st-century humans only have our one planet for that “If you want to tell stories about different worlds I feel like you want to experience something different and get out of your world.” We are each other’s aliens, so-to-speak.
To date, Star Trek has a bazillion different aliens. But a few stand out to the costume designer and she’d love to get her hands on their look “I’m very partial to the Borg. I’d love to get a chance to work on them. The Romulans for sure. And I’ve been watching a lot of Deep Space Nine with my daughter so I’d love to work on the Bajorans.”
What’s Gersha’s final word on the work she does for Star Trek: Discovery? “I love this level of creativity. It’s so gratifying.”
Thanks to Gersha Phillips, Impact24 PR, and CBS
for making this interview possible.