Damon Callis (James Ransone) and Michael (James Harvey Ward) in Episode 1 of AMC's "Low Winter Sun." Costume Design by Marie France. Photo by Alicia Gbur/AMC.

“Low Winter Sun”

Aug. 30, 2013

At the center of AMC’s dark and gritty series, “Low Winter Sun,” is Damon Callis, played by actor James Ransone. Callis is a fierce, intelligent and ruthless crime lord who is tired of playing back seat to Detroit’s reigning mob boss, Alexander Skelos. The show, which deals with crime, deception and corruption in the police department, is rooted in Detroit (referred to in the series as “the D”). The city becomes a character in and of itself, with its broken beauty and proud blue collar past (whose industrial base is now crumbling and decaying).

Costume Designer Marie France wanted Callis’ costumes to reflect this state of affairs, as it is emblematic of the series’ overall vision. An ambitious small-time crime boss whose “gang” is made up of a small group of friends, Callis wants desperately to replace Skelos as the top crime boss and was planning to achieve this goal with the help of the shady detective Brendan McCann. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the series, McCann is killed by two of his fellow officers. This puts Callis at the epicenter of the story, thus blurring the line between the police and the criminals.

To emphasize the film noir imagery and the menacing quality of Callis’ character, Marie France stuck with a color palette of black, white and shades of grey. Callis’ costume is iconic of a blue collar aesthetic and varies very little from scene to scene, consisting mostly of classic American staples such as black or blue Levi’s 501 jeans, white, grey or black t-shirts, a grey hooded sweatshirt and Red Wing work boots. The black leather jacket that he wears is meant to illustrate the toughness of his character.

“All of it has been aged to reflect the decay of the abandonned industrial sites like the Packard factory. In spite of the problems that Detroit is facing, the people of Detroit are very proud of their city and many display its name or initial on their clothes,” Marie France explains. “That is why I chose a leather jacket with ‘DETROIT’ embroidered on the sleeve—but the embroidery has almost disappeared and is just a faint, deconstructed apparition—like a ghost from a more prosperous past.”

You can catch the next episode of “Low Winter Sun” on AMC on Sundays at 10/9c.

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