Deborah Cook: Missing Link
Deborah Cook, award-winning Costume Designer at LAIKA creates costumes for characters who are 11-14 inches tall. For the studio’s 2019 film, Missing Link, about globetrotting explorers, Deborah and her team dressed the cast in costumes from the turn of the century (1890 – 1910) for a range of climates. The plot follows a Sasquatch who, with the help of an English explorer, travels to the Himalayas to meet his Yeti cousins.
Deborah talked us through the wardrobe of each of the main characters.
Susan/Link, voiced by Zack Galifianakis
Our bold and passionate hero’s main costume is a purloined plaid suit. The colour is in homage to the Pacific North West clothing conventions of the day and its eminent weaving history. The suit belonged to someone much smaller, hence it has a pinched, taut and stretched fit exposing a voluptuous furry midriff exaggerated by the constrained pattern within the character silhouette.
White Stag workwear clothing and the Pendleton woolen mill were established in Oregon over this time period. I looked there for the historical color palette and for woven garments primarily serving the logging industry with robust workwear very much in high contrast to Lionel’s finely tailored city gent-style houndstooth suit.
Adelina, voiced by Zoe Saldana
Adelina represents the modern woman at the turn of the 20th century. She wears a traditional Victorian mourning dress at the outset of our story. It’s à la mode in a non-traditional vibrant fuchsia color, a striking step away from the smoky blues and grays that dominated the Victorian era and an acknowledgement of an era on the cusp of the evolution of chemical fabric dyes. More vivid colors were novel in clothing for the more fashion savvy of the time. She has a brooch with a swallow engraved on it representing enduring love and loyalty and daisies on her dress symbolizing purity, innocence and rebirth or transition.
Her adventurous and risqué pants suit and ‘S’ bend (swan billed) corset are a liberation from the physically restrictive bustles of the Victorian tradition and support her emotional transition from a grieving widow to adventurer completing her husband’s unfinished quest by joining Lionel and Susan in their search for Shangri-La.
Lionel, voiced by Hugh Jackman
Lionel wears a suit in rich hues of teal and ochre reflecting his modern, fashion-forward and somewhat vain sensibilities. However, this presented a great challenge. We had to be able to ensure that his houndstooth suit was both an animatable fabric and be visually believable in our 1/5th scale. This led us down a maze of testing to establish the size, shape and color tones of the interlocking shapes that would represent this weave.
It illustrates the challenges of working in this scale. We needed to avoid moiré as shooting squares, small wovens and parallel lines in our scale mirrors pixels creating visual interference on the screen, small squares to date have mainly been avoided at all costs in our scale as it’s so problematic. We also shoot in 3D so the color needed to balance tonally to avoid one color bouncing forward on screen and still retain a convincing contrast.
For more information about Missing Link and other LAIKA films, visit www.laika.com
So impressed with Deborah’s story. I’ve always admired costumer designers and to see her talents applied to animation is just so interesting. And it’s happening in my own Pacific Northwest!