“American Gods”

April 28, 2017

Anna Wyckoff

For three years before taking on American Gods, Costume Designer Suttirat Larlarb was teaching a History of Clothing course at Carnegie Mellon University. “I really tried to revamp the approach to the subject,” she says. “I poured into the how and why clothing has evolved, not just the aesthetic journey.” In doing so, she drew upon art history and anthropology to trace the development of clothing through the centuries. “So when I got to do American Gods I had this huge bank of material to draw from.”

Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, American Gods is set in a world where divine beings were brought to America by the immigrants who worshipped them, be they Viking explorers or African slaves. These Old Gods clash with the New Gods who embody modern obsessions such as the media, celebrity, and technology. For a project with all the mythologies of the world to draw from, Suttirat’s years of historical research made her a perfect match for the project.

The story follows Shadow (Ricky Whittle) after his release from prison. He is caught up in the divine struggle when he encounters Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) an incarnation of Odin. “Shadow is a kind of everyman,” Suttirat explains. “He’s our guide through all of this, so I wanted him to feel neutral.” Her solution was to put him in a slightly out of date, chocolate brown suit. “Mr. Wednesday has so much sartorial confidence that they really need to look different. Given his origin as a Norse god, we made sure he had a European sense about him. The juxtaposition of the two fed the design of each character.”

“This was a completely new family for me,” Suttirat notes. “Earning the trust of people as visually definitive as Bryan Fuller and Michael Green was a huge challenge and quite intimidating.” But the pace and scope of the production made trust a necessity. “It may be the most creative support I’ve ever had from any collaborators. It was just so rewarding to work with the two of them.”

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