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Fellowship of Fans > News  > New details and curiosities about The Rings of Power costumes
The Rings of Power costumes

New details and curiosities about The Rings of Power costumes

One of the most powerful and successful aspects of The Rings of Power S1 was undeniably the costumes. In the first season of the show, we saw a wide variety of costumes for each race, each with its own peculiarities and a well-thought-out study behind it. In the last few days, Kate Howley, the costume designer of the show, talked about 11 interesting details and facts about RoP costumes, explaining how they were conceived and all the inspirations that led to their creation.



11 Facts and Curiosities about The Rings of Power Costumes: Kate Hawley’s interview

Galadriel’s shipwreck garment
“We made about 70 versions of Galadriel’s undergarment that she wore on the boat. We had to do several tests in the pool, and the chlorine took all the color out of it, so we’d go back and create another version. We also did a few different versions with various lengths, to get the underwater visuals right. At the beginning, we’d done all kinds of hand embroidery and pearls on the garment, but we ended up scaling that back a bit to keep the revisions from getting out of control. You might not realize it, but this repeated work is common in action-heavy shows and films. We had to get clever, to make sure we stayed on top of the timeline for several characters.”

The costumes and characters development
“A big part of filling in the gaps meant understanding the individual characters and where their races were in their evolution. Then I worked backwards to determine what they might look like at the time. The Dwarves were in their golden age, the Harfoots were trying to find a home, and the Númenóreans were in a time where they were perceived as godlike beings. The Elves were not as perfect in this era as they are when we see them 6,000 years later, in the Third Age. I thought there was an opportunity to tell that story of time with garments that had a certain age to them.”

Historical inspirations
“I found myself using paintings for inspiration a lot, because Tolkien was very influenced by Pre-Raphaelite artists, especially Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and William Morris. I looked at some of the darker symbolist paintings as a reference, as well as the Nordic and Germanic mythologies, and the old English era with King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The overarching theme was to return to the place of origin and creation—it’s like a rapture. We kept treating each scene as a painting, to bring together elements like the costumes, hair and makeup, set design, and props.”

Museum realms
“All of the realms have their own culture, but they’re united by the overall theme of the Second Age. The entire production team visualized the different realms and how they correspond with one another by having a huge, dedicated space that was sort of like a museum room to physically storyboard the world we were creating. There were multiple tables that had things like the color palette, the textures, artifacts, concept art, and props for each realm. The production team would have our meetings in that room, so we always had the overall picture in mind when we made important decisions. Space is always at a premium on a production set, but building this room was totally worth it, because everyone could go in and immediately see what we were trying to create”.

Handmade works
“Our in-house team started small, then eventually grew as production progressed. We had artists who specialized in armor, jewelry, and custom lace, as well as a full shoe department. We even had a professional in weaving, who wove parts of the Harfoots’ costumes. Every culture brought in a new discipline. More elaborate costuming for some characters often required support from many of them at the same time.”



Elves and the environment
We chose a lot of the fabric for the costumes because of its movement—it’s one thing for it to look nice, and another for it to move beautifully on screen. We worked mostly with silks and linens that were easy to dye, and we had a full dye department dedicated to getting the colors just right. We colored the Elven cloaks to match perfectly with the environment around them in each scene, because Tolkien described them as sort of camouflage. We would find several different material options, then dye each of them, creating about six or seven versions until we got the design just right. We also used embroidery to accomplish this camouflage effect. For example, Galadriel’s emerald cloak was embroidered with gold-leaf stitching, to literally root her into the forest floor in a scene with hundreds of hand-painted golden leaves on the ground.”

Beauty and functionality
“We can’t just make beautiful things out of steel, even though I would have really loved to. This show requires real articulated armor, because the stunt work is so physical. For example, Arondir’s scenes are so physical that we needed to create armor that would allow Ismael Cruz Córdova to perform. Someone was always coming to me saying, ‘Kate, we have to be sensible in this bit,’ and I would be conflicted, creating a version that was practical but also beautiful.”

Shrinkage of dwarves
“For the Dwarves, we had to look at costumes in proportion as they developed, since their characters would appear smaller on screen. The wigs department played a huge part in that collaboration. We’d take photos of the costume and hair, and reduce the image down to see what the overall silhouette would do when we shrunk characters like Prince Durin IV and Princess Disa down in size. We had to keep playing this game of ‘mini me’ to look at each costume objectively against other characters and set elements.”

The power of tecnhology
“Sound technology is almost too good now, and it picks up everything. We did so many camera tests on the costumes to make sure things like the sound of flowing silk or the jangle of chains wouldn’t interfere with production. The digital cameras see everything now, too, so every paint mark shows up, or you notice something doesn’t fit quite like you want it to on camera. Sometimes, even the best-laid plans don’t work when you start working with the technical elements, but working with the team to get it right is an interesting part of the collaboration and process.”

The showrunners and the Red Cape
“Bronwyn is the healer of her village, so the clothes and capes she wore were typically meant to match the atmosphere around her. When we were creating the battle sequence, J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay really wanted her to stand out, so they asked for a red cape. Healers were like the nurses on the battlefield, so this red cape helped pull her out. The decision was made on set and in the moment, and we were prepared to create the cape in time for the shoot. Sometimes requests from showrunners like this fit so perfectly, because they know where it’s all going and what visual elements can help get it there.”

Tolkien’s Poetry
“The biggest thing I learned in this process was to trust the poetry of Tolkien’s work. That’s what makes it so different from other fantasy franchises. For example, he describes heroes covered in the dust of diamonds, and it was exciting to try things like adding hundreds of rhinestones to the Elven armor to try to visualize those words. I really wanted to create movement and light that reflected his text as a metaphor through the costumes. Then the incredible visual effects followed, to create a new world.”

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Francesco - Role: Chief Editor Hi i'm Francesco, and i'm a proud member of FoF team since last year. My passion for Tolkien books started since i was 9, when my elder cousin gives me a DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It was love at first sight, and then i read the books, and i fallen in love with Middle Earth much more. That tales of elves, dwarves, hobbits, human and orcs became, throug the years, a lifestyle to me, and have changed deep my life. To be part of this team is such an honor for me, and, as a journalist, im very proud to write about Tolkien for our fans and followers.

1 Comment

  • Liliandil
    July 9, 2023 at 3:30 pm

    I mean, who is she kidding. You can like the show but no one in their right mind can honestly and truthfully say the costume didn’t look like shit.

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