“Magnum P.I. (2018)”

Oct. 2nd, 2018

Anna Wyckoff

No one needs an excuse to spend time in an island paradise, but researching a reboot of an iconic television series is as good a reason as any. “There’s really no other way to really keep the contemporary feel of Hawaii except to just be in Hawaii taking it in. So I was there for about five weeks,” says Costume Designer Kelli Jones of her work on Magnum P.I. for CBS.

Making some well-known characters more modern was part of the brief from show creators Eric Guggenheim and Peter M. Lenkov. “With these kinds of shows it’s tricky because there are people that still love the original and are really sensitive about a reboot,” she explains. “But we wanted to make sure that it wasn’t the same clothes on a different actor.” Her solution was to dress the title character Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) in outfits with elements that subtly reference the original series’ costumes: the right baseball cap or a well-worn denim jacked that give a nod to the 80s costumes but are still current. At the suggestion of the director she transposed the relaxed elegance of the iconic Hawaiian shirts into light linen shirts in a subdued palette. The result is natural, uncontrived, and appealing—all benchmarks of the original series.

Supporting characters received a similar treatment. Detective Gordon Katsumoto (Sung Kang) wears an Aloha shirt under his sports coat. Club owner Orville ‘Rick’ Wright (Zachary Knighton) has a clean crisp look but in bright, island colors and light fabrics. Helicopter tour owner, Theodore ‘TC’ Calvin (Stephen Hill) wears a custom-made “company” Hawaiian shirt with a helicopter on it in place of flowers. The wry property manager for the estate where Magnum lives is re-imagined as Juliett Higgins (Perdita Weeks) a female former MI-6 agent. “She has authority in the house, so we wanted to make sure that it was very business look, but still a business island look. Working to create visuals that satisfy the audience is the Costume Designer’s main job on a reboot project.”

Magnum P.I. is on 9 pm Mondays and is also streaming on CBS.

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