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Wardrobe Secrets From Behind The Scenes Of ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Updated December 1, 2020 24.2k views13 items

Originally starting out as a Dark Horse Comics series, The Umbrella Academy has since widened its fan base thanks to the Netflix series adaptation. With a range of brilliant visuals, colorful characters, and a soundtrack you just can't help but love, it's not hard to see why the series appeals to non-comic book readers and fans of the source material alike. 

The series balances grit and humor perfectly as it follows seven individuals born with tremendous abilities and raised by an eccentric, billionaire philanthropist who hopes he can raise them, teach them to harness their powers, and hopefully... save the world.

However, the effort put into the series doesn't just stop with the writing or the plot; each costume worn by the characters on the show tells a story of its own. From the loud and boisterous fashion of the charismatic Klaus to the way the show's creative team gradually alters the characters' looks to emphasize their progression, this list will take a look at the wardrobe secrets from behind the scenes of The Umbrella Academy.

  • Vanya's Clothes Reinforce The Muted Status Of The Character In The Family

    Photo: Netflix

    Although the comic book version of the character leaned more toward the feminine side in appearance, Elliot Page wished for the onscreen portrayal of Vanya to be more androgynous. By having access to more variety when it came to a plain wardrobe, such as oversized sweaters, denim shirts, and jeans, Vanya's muted appearance emphasized her status within the group.

    This allowed viewers, subconsciously or otherwise, to hone in on Vanya's face, and ultimately set the stage for a striking contrast between the character's austere initial look and her dazzling final form.

  • Elliot Page Helped Shape How Vanya's Final Outfit Would Diverge From The Comic Version

    Photo: Netflix

    Although there are some similarities (mainly the all-white appearance) between Vanya's final outfit in the comic book and that of Page's onscreen version, the actor and costume designer Christopher Hargadon decided to go in a different direction than the character's violin-like appearance in the comic.

    While Vanya's aesthetic through most of Season 1 incorporates tied-up hair and bland colors (the most exciting of which is burgundy), the final episode communicates her final transformation specifically through the medium of her wardrobe. What we see is a more formal look, for sure, but it says everything about the character. The original black tux (which can be seen as the absence of color) reflects her (presumptive) lack of unique ability; Vanya's all-white attire (white being a combination of all the colors on the spectrum) thus reflects her new, all-powerful self.

  • The Costume Designer Also Created The Suits And Aesthetic For 'Hannibal'

    Photo: NBC

    Without a doubt, there's a lot in The Umbrella Academy that can be described as eye-catching, but on a more specific note, there's something to be said about the precise way the wardrobe - even in subtle ways and with muted visual choices - suits each character's individual qualities.

    Such distinctive wardrobe choices should come as no surprise considering that the person handling the show's costume design reins is Christopher Hargadon. The costuming veteran has worked on such shows as Hannibal and The X-Files, the former of which featured costume design that has gone down in contemporary pop-culture legend.

    Hargadon's expertise when it comes to formal wear is on full display in The Umbrella Academy. With a time-traveling extravaganza like this serving as a perfect platform, he takes the opportunity to pull influence from the Victorian era to the present day and various spaces in between - heaps of '50s nostalgia, for instance - to give the Netflix fantasy series a distinct sense of aesthetic history.

  • About 60% Of Klaus's Wardrobe Is Women's Clothes

    Photo: Netflix

    Although adapted from one of the comic series' more gothic characters, Robert Sheehan's Klaus is probably the most different from his on-page counterpart - at least when it comes to appearance. When thinking of various characters' appearances in the Netflix series, it's fair to say Klaus is one that stands out above most, if not all, of the rest. And this is a character whose brother has the upper body of an ape, so this is no small statement.

    The series gives us a very fluid interpretation of the character; it should come as little surprise that Klaus's vibrant, eccentric style is made up of around 60% women's clothing. Part of the reason has to do with actor Robert Sheehan's own wardrobe. He says that, due to his slim physique, he often wears women's clothes off-screen anyway, as they tend to fit him better. According to costume designer Christopher Hargadon:

    We really just played; he had the most fun, wild closet. We shopped vintage. One of the things he wore initially was a skirt - an Edwardian theatrical piece from a Shakespeare company that was probably about 50 years old. It kind of disintegrated as he was wearing it. But we just played in his fittings, and as far as he was concerned, the wackier [clothing] the better.