Facing Dystopia With “Into The Badlands”

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“This world is built on blood. Nobody is innocent here. Welcome to the Badlands.” Well, contrary to its opening dialogue, blood and a whole of intense production talent built the post-apocalyptic world of Into the Badlands.

Who could have been a better fit for the head of costume design than Giovanni Lipari, whose past credits include Victorian horror flicks Penny Dreadul and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter?

“Most of my time is spent in the costume department, specifically in the workshop,”  Lipari told TV Over Mind. “The workshop is where all the costume makers work from – cutters, tailors and seamstresses mainly. So once my design drawings have been approved and fabric has been selected, this needs to be handed off to the making team and I have to brief them on every element of the design from shape and proportions to the finer details of decorations and finishing.”


As for what inspired the designs Lipari says the dystopian context blended all manner of elements from Steampunk to the Sixties. “There’s a bit of ’60s, but futuristic in there. All these white people with the high neck collar almost have this futuristic uniform, which comes from the fencing thing,” he told Syfy. “As we go along, I show a picture to Miles, and we try to find out if these colors and peoples all come together on the big screen when we see them all together, if we like to see the combination of styles and colors. It’s a very challenging show because of that. We need to blend history, future, Asian elements, steampunk, and so we play. We start playing really, literally, like that.”

However, Lipari revealed some of the vital functions of a costume designer not just in the workshop but out on set. He said that “establishing” costumes on set is a process “to check on small issues such as the way a costume is worn, or if a director has a scene with a new requirement.”

Small Details on Set

This pit-stop style role naturally holds a high level of responsibility. “Essentially it is my responsibility to ensure the costumes are properly represented on set before shooting starts,” he told TV Over Mind. “In terms of modifications, the costumes are very structured and created to allow certain movements in fight scenes, so last minute changes are in fact quite rare. The majority of last minute adjustments are in the smaller details.”

However, while many costumers will empathise with shivering on set at a freezing call time, this consideration of different climates had a big influence on Lipari’s designs.

“Season 1 was shot in Louisana before moving to Ireland for Seasons 2 and 3. Louisiana is a whole different environment, from landscape to colors and even temperature and weather conditions so the location change had to take all of this into consideration. When I started on Badlands for Season 2, one of the very first conversations I had with Miles Millar was about how this location change would impact on the costume design and how we would maintain a consistent style but having a new set of requirements,” he said. “One of those requirements was making sure the actors wouldn’t freeze going from a hot to cold climate, so using materials that could face the winter cold and rain but still maintain the style from the previous season. Then we had to make sure we were using colors in a new way. Ireland offers a very beautiful and vivid color background, it’s very green and has a unique light. So it was always at the back of my mind when using colors and ageing fabrics, what they would be standing against in a shot. So the location in this case was very important in informing a lot of my decisions.”