Star Trek's Costume Designer on Updating the Uniforms

February 27, 2009
Source: TrekMovie.com

Star Trek

As we get closer to yet another exciting summer movie season, I keep going over the big movies in my head and the one that continually comes to mind the most is Star Trek. I'm a big sci-fi nut and I'm very excited to see J.J. Abrams bring us a much more energetic and exciting Trek movie. There's a lot of good sci-fi offerings this summer (e.g. Terminator Salvation, Transformers 2), but this is the one I'm most excited about. Therefore, I've got a tendency to read almost everything that gets written about it, and occasionally I come across some fascinating articles. This one on TrekMovie.com this week is one such article.

SciFi Now's Edward Gross talked with costume designer Michael Kaplan about his work on Star Trek and it's actually some interesting discussion. Now why would anyone care about this? Well, because if you're a Trekkie, you're sensitive about any and every change Abrams has made. And if you've seen the trailer and any new photos (like the one above), you'll notice that Abrams has updated the look of the crew uniforms quite a bit. By now we know that Abrams basically wanted to throw out everything from the old show and start over again completely fresh, while still paying homage to the designs and characters and so on.

"I told him it would be really fun to create a whole new world, yet do an homage to the TV show, because that's where our world in Star Trek would end. There were certain things we wanted to be recognizable. Updated, but not done away with, like the Enterprise costumes. There's a '60s sensibility I thought was important to keep intact. It was really about finding a balance. I would do some sketching and say, 'I love this costume idea, but it doesn’t feel like Star Trek,' and we would abandon it."

Kaplan is no newcomer to designing sci-fi costumes. He was the costume designer on Blade Runner as well as Armageddon and other movies like I Am Legend and Fight Club. In early discussions with Abrams, Kaplan had told him that he didn't like how most "futuristic movies" dressed the inhabitants on "new colonies" in Greek, Roman, or Egyptian style costumes. Also interestingly, Kaplan wasn't a big Trek fan, and Abrams told him that was an advantage, "because he wanted something really fresh. He wanted new eyes." Kaplan goes on to talk about the new look of the uniforms (seen above) that he eventually came up with.

"I wanted to do something more sophisticated than they had done on the TV series, so I created a new fabric where a pattern of the boomerang logo was utilized. You'll also see that there is now a black shirt that's a part of the uniform. Back on the TV show, it was all one piece… It made sense to me that the uniform would have an undershirt, and that it would still be consistent. The shirt is a dark charcoal gray, as are the pants, and the color of the jumpers describe what that person's job is."

Apparently there is a lot more to this interview in the latest issue of SciFi Now, which I've already ordered a copy of (from here). I actually remember thinking to myself how cool the new uniforms looked when these photos first came out, and now that I know the pattern on them is actually the same boomerang Trek logo, I'm probably way more excited than I should be. But that's what defines a fanboy - someone who is unrelentingly excited by the most mundane details. And right now, that's definitely what you can call me, because anytime anything is written about Star Trek, I'm one of the first to seek it out and read it.

There is an upcoming presentation for Star Trek this weekend at WonderCon in San Francisco which I'll be attending. We haven't seen much new footage since the presentation in November or since the first trailer that was shown in front of Quantum of Solace. With a brand new trailer due out in front of Watchmen on March 6th, the next few weeks should be quite exciting, especially for Star Trek fanboys like myself.

Find more posts: Editorial, Hype, Opinions



gets better with every arcticle, never been a trekkie myself but hey this looks the nuts

bassbin on Feb 27, 2009


i'm so pumped for this and the new costumes are ill.

pj on Feb 27, 2009


I have to admit, as much as I loathe JJ Abram's execrable contribution to existence up to this point, I think this may turn out well in spite of his involvement. This really is awesome casting.

RandyG on Feb 27, 2009


Feo hates the new costumes, which are Sweet!

feohatestheworld on Feb 27, 2009


So Star Trek started as a tv show, and inherently its difficult to transfer typical 1 hour story lines to a 2 hour time frame. hence the lack of amazingness in the older movies (except The Journey Home). I am nonetheless very excited for this though 🙂

dave13 on Feb 27, 2009


Zach...I gotta agree that up until a few months ago I thought the same thing thanks to the aged feel of the original Star Trek television series, but after watching Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: First Contact, I'm admittedly hooked. The plot lines are deeper than just a bunch of guys sitting around the enterprise talking about ray gun fights and futuristic technology (while not showing it); they speak to the question of what else could be out there beyond the stars. I think Star Trek has more of a grasp in theory on how other planet's races would interact and that resonates in how we treat each other on Earth. I'd definitely give First Contact a look though because that made me change my whole perception of the Trek universe...I used to make fun of my friends so bad until I watched that.

peloquin on Feb 27, 2009


In peloquin we trust.

Tim 'Cloverfield" on Feb 27, 2009


Peloquin yu saw the best two movies star trek ever made, but the 6th movie rocks cause its a throw back to classic trek story plots. And as for zach...never compare Star Wars with Star Trek. Star Wars: sci-fi fantasy with 3 great movies and 3 more bad ones except for a few good action scenes in those last 3. Star Trek: what we would do if we were united under one purpose...exploration in space where theres danger at every turn...So please, see a Star Trek movie...the Abrams one and you'll stop hating. One question...are midiclorines a deep plot device...just a question...

Lazarus on Feb 27, 2009


Well i know the tv show sucked for me and the old movies maybe i just hated old tv shows i cant really watch very many this elderly haha only cartoons that old anyways ill think about seeing depending on trailers that come out but i would rather go see Observe and Report, Transformers 2, Crank 2, Fast and Furious, Last house on the left, Terminator 4, and so on

zach on Feb 28, 2009

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