“Star Trek Beyond”

July 29, 2016

Anna Wyckoff

Costume Designer Sanja Hays is no stranger to franchises, having helmed the Fast and the Furious property through seven iterations. With Star Trek Beyond, Hays signed onto a film that had a fifty-year history and a fanbase so fervent, they have a name—Trekkies. Hays was challenged by director Justin Lin’s dualistic vision: he wanted the costumes to be modern, but also to refer as closely as possible to the original. “Fitting into a franchise that you were not a part of before is always interesting,” says Hays, “because as you try to fit in, you also have to make it fresh—because everyone expects that.”

Star Trek’s uniforms are iconic. Hays closely examined the previous films before reimagining them. Fabrication was complicated because during the past half-century, fabric technology and garment construction has completely changed. Another difficulty was anticipating the reaction of the audience and finding modern shapes that still played to their nostalgia. In order to achieve this delicate balance of retro-modern, Hays decided to introduce an element of formality to the costumes and pull back from the air of casualness, which surrounded the two previous reboots. Hays returned to high collars and crisp lines to achieve a sharp, clean look. To foster a feeling of dignity and give a nod to the originals, Hays lined the jersey and added shoulder pads. She had the side panels subtly shaded to further slenderize the silhouette. Also, in a move towards gender equality, Hays gave the woman long sleeves and insignias symbolizing rank, which have been absent for the past six years.

“Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is an alien who has been stranded on a planet for a long time,” explains Hays, “her costume was probably the biggest struggle, but is also probably the biggest success. Mary Ellen (of Bill Hargate Costumes) did the most remarkable job building it.” By introducing patching and the feeling of pieces being added on in parts, Hays built Jaylah’s garment into an armor-like covering. She adjusted the tonality of the leathers to connect her face, in the striking white and black makeup by artist Joe Harlow, to her body. In addition to the appearance, the costume also had to accommodate the character’s fights, so stretch panels were printed to look like leather and slipped into the side seams.

“For Kirk’s (Chris Pine) costume I felt really strong about having him look very heroic,” Hays notes. In order to make him feel like a rebel but still be approachable, she imagined him as a “space cowboy.” Details like latex cording and dimensional printing give the garments a futuristic edge. Audiences loved the results, and knock-offs of the suit have been selling strongly for months.

Recently, Hays participated in the CDG Panel at Comic-Con to discuss the film. “We tried to impress on the audience that we are not fashion designers, we do not manufacture clothing, we tell the story. We were trying to help critics and audiences understand that it is a costume, not clothing. If we miss the mark, then the audience has a wrong impression of the character and it’s really difficult for the actor to get past that. A big part of our job is to help actors relay to the audience the character that they are playing. When we are successful and actors are happy and excited to wear the costume, that’s just the biggest joy.

Star Trek Beyond  opened in theatres July 22.

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