September 17, 2013
Washington Irving’s classic American tale gets a new age twist in FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow.” Set in present day Sleepy Hollow, New York, the show follows a resurrected Ichabod Crane (played by actor Tom Mison), who has risen from the grave to crack a centuries-long unsolved mystery. Ever present amid his detective work is the legendary Headless Horseman, who continues to haunt inhabitants of the modern day town.
Bringing Ichabod back to life (figuratively and literally) was a huge undertaking for Costume Designer Sanja Milkovic Hays. “The challenge was to design a historically accurate costume for a professor that became part of the Continental Army in 1776, and at the same time, a costume that is not going to look too out of place, too ‘distracting’ when he wakes up in 2013,” Hays says. “I opted against the Continental Army ‘blue coat’ uniform because I didn’t think that he should look like professional soldier, and because that uniform would be too strong for 2013.”
After extensive research, Hays ultimately decided that the New York Militia uniform of the period would be the most appropriate pattern prototype for Ichabod, and worked with Serj Costumes & Tailoring to create uniforms for use between actor Tom Mison and his stunt double (due to budget limitations, only five uniforms were produced). Executing the cut of the shirt and the boots accompanying Ichabod’s uniform were also a challenge, as Hays and her team knew Ichabod would spend several scenes in his shirt only (not full uniform regalia) and they were unable to track down boots to suit the character and period. In the end, Hays opted to have Ichabod’s boots custom made.
Hays and her team had to be strategic when aging Ichabod’s uniform, given the slim number of multiples produced. “We had to go a little bit back and forth. The 2013 look was aged heavily with over-dying, spraying, sanding, hand painting, gluing of sawdust and then spraying again, all to give it the look of the uniform that was buried for 250 years,” the designer explains. “Special aging was done for the scene when Ichabod wakes up in the cave, where we added yet another layer of aging to show the clay that he was buried in.”
In the end, the team pulled through to create Ichabod’s signature look.
“All of this was made with limited budget and time, as it often is in the pilots, but I had a great crew of costumers, costume makers and agers and dyers, and I have to say I haven’t done so much aging and dying myself in years,” Hays says.
“Sleepy Hollow” airs on FOX Mondays at 9/8c.