January 15, 2016
In the new USA Network sci-fi drama, “Colony,” from all appearances, life in the Los Angeles of the near future is nothing out of the ordinary.
Then you begin to notice lots of military types in red berets. And camouflage. And gun belts.
That would be the occupying government that has taken over the city. Costume Designer Kimberly Adams developed the look for the pilot; Mary Iannelli has picked up the reins. The television series, which was created by Ryan Condal and Carlton Cuse, stars Josh Holloway as former FBI agent Will Bowman and Sarah Wayne Callies as his wife, Katie. The Bowmans, like their fellow Angelenos, have to decide whether to collaborate or resist, and suffer the consequences of either decision.
Adams worked closely with Condal and Cuse to develop the look and feel of the characters, particularly the uniformed soldiers.
“The idea was to create a universal ‘Homeland Security’ force that would replace all police and military, making them menacing, yet familiar,” Adams said.
“I was trying to find that fine line. I wanted an American-feeling military that was friendly to the people living there…that lets the residents live their lives.” They drew parallels with other occupying governments, such as the Vichy regime in WWII France. The headwear is so distinctive, that they named the force for their attire: They’re the Red Hats.
“Carlton and Ryan had asked about adding a color pop to the soldiers. I had shown them references of Venezuelan soldiers with red berets and they loved it. I also had found a photo of the new [Tampa Bay] Buccaneers football uniforms that had red/black, color-blocked helmets that were the inspiration for the Red Hats’ soldiers helmets,” she said.
The red berets were soft enough to avoid looking like riot gear, but credible enough to belong to a foreign force. The gun belts and protective coverings were streamlined for a more futuristic look. The foot soldiers, however, were weighted with stronger, scarier weapons and attire.
“Covering their faces with balaclavas helped strengthen them and give them anonymity from the citizens they patrolled,” she said.
For their uniforms, Adams and costume supervisor Dan Bronson happened upon a lucky find: A grayish, “urban” camouflage fabric.
“Dan and I went to a military place and found this new camouflage that hadn’t been on any show yet. We didn’t want to use any U.S. Army-issued look or anything like what people already know,” she said. She created the insignia and the ranks of the soldiers, completing their uniforms.
To isolate the vivid red and strengthen its association with the Red Hats force, no other red clothing or uniforms appear in “The Colony.” And in the occupied zone, colors are muted, patterns are subtle and few, if any, helmets are worn, even though in this oddly car-free Los Angeles of the future, everyone rides bicycles.
Colony airs Thursdays on the USA Network at 10 p.m. / 9 Central