April 4, 2014
NBC’s new fantasy-adventure series “Believe,” which counts Academy Award-winner Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”) and J.J. Abrams among its impressive roster of executive producers, is about a young girl named Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) who was born with special psychic and telekinetic abilities that are beyond her control.
Considered to be a ward of the U.S. government and a national defense priority, 10-year-old Bo finds herself without a family and on the run from Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan), a geneticist who runs the top secret Orchestra Project institution.
As Bo’s powers progress, so does her need for protection and her safety rests in the hands of a secret organization led by Dr. Milton Winter, a scientist who was once partners with Skouras, but is now his sworn enemy. Dr. Winter and his team are the only people Bo can trust, that is until we meet William Tate (Jake McLaughlin).
Tate, a falsely convicted murderer and death-row inmate, is freed from a national security prison by Dr. Winter moments before his scheduled execution. In exchange for his freedom, Tate, who we learn is Bo’s father, must do whatever it takes to protect Bo.
Costume Designer Stephani Lewis is tasked with outfitting the cast of the series, and her original vision for Bo was to use a lot of vintage and thrifted pieces in order to achieve a “rag tag, on the run” style. However, since Sequoyah is a child actress and cannot work long set hours, Lewis and her team must make multiples of every one of her costumes for photo and stunt doubles.
“Vintage is almost out of the question. So I started digging, did a fitting with her that consisted of only vintage to nail down her particular style, then made versions in fabrics and patterns that specifically fit Bo,” said Lewis. “Bo’s character has a mix-and-match kind of style that makes her special and separates her from all the other characters on the show. She isn’t afraid to be different. She has a brightness and eccentricity about her that makes her stand out in the world and is a direct contrast to the look of Orchestra, the world that she is running from.”
Lewis’ favorite piece that’s been created so far is the jacket Bo wears throughout a good chunk of the series.
“Since we were going to be shooting mostly exteriors through the New York winter, it was important to me to have an outer layer for her that I wouldn’t get tired of looking at over and over again. It was important to find something that was unique but looked as if it could have been picked up at a thrift store,” she said. “I found a jacket very similar to the one she now wears while digging through boxes at a vintage warehouse in New Jersey. I fell in love with the snowflake pattern made up of tiny little hearts across the chest.
While the original snowflake jacket was gray, Lewis knew that putting her in such a dark color would not fly with the network or have the effect of making her appear special and bold.
“I can’t remember the movie I was watching, it must have been something from the 70s, and an old robin’s egg blue cop car pulled into frame, and I thought, ‘That’s the perfect color for a Bo jacket.’”
The jacket is made out of basic cotton twill that was dyed to the specific shade of blue Lewis wanted. After achieving the perfect color, the jacket was sent to the screen printer, which duplicated the snowflake pattern. The team made three jackets at first: one for Sequoyah, one for her photo double and one for her stunt double.
“Then…we went away for a five-week hiatus over the holidays and when we came back I discovered Johnny had a growth spurt and was two sizes bigger! We had to remake almost her entire wardrobe in eight days, including the jacket. Unfortunately, after only three more episodes, she had outgrown everything again!” the designer recalls. “I finally just said ‘Forget it, it’s warming up, let’s make her something more fitting for spring.’ Now she’s wearing another piece we created, but it’s oversized, just to give her room to grow!”
“Believe” airs Sundays 9/8c on NBC.