LEVERAGE costume designer Nadine Haders tells us about the inspiration and fast-paced work that goes into creating costumes for the show. Click here to see what she has to say. And tune in for back-to-back new episodes of the LEVERAGE summer finale this Sunday starting at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT.
Q: Describe the process of selecting costumes. Where do you start? From where do you draw inspiration? And how long does it take to put an outfit together?
Nadine Haders: The process of selecting costumes always starts with the script. The first thing I do is read it and then do what we call a breakdown. That entails literally breaking down the script in terms of cast and guest stars; how many changes in reference to how many script days, days versus nights, exteriors versus interiors, stunt & photo doubles and finally all of the background players. This part of the process is rather time consuming, but it is so important in figuring out the course of action for prepping each episode. The second step is meeting with the episode’s director and writer to go through the script, page by page. This is when I give my ideas and opinions, and we discuss. After this, I have another meeting with my department where we work out our game plan. I should point out that we shoot a new episode every seven days. Breakneck speed is required.
As far as inspiration, aside from what’s scripted, I use my knowledge of the main characters and my own imagination to build on their “con” looks. I also do quite a bit of research depending on the con. I draw inspiration from vast sources from all over the place, again, all depending on the episode. I work very quickly.
Q: How would you describe each character’s look?
Haders: The characters definitely has their own styles. I came to Leverage early on, so I really got to form the look of the show and each of the characters. This always begins as a conversation with each of the cast members. You need to be able to express the essence of each character quickly so you give them identifiable looks. You also have to move the story from the costumes, as well. A lot of thought goes into each decision. I also do fittings with each actor for every episode. Fit and silhouette are very important to me. I have my cutter/fitter/tailor in every fitting with me to make sure all will look great on screen. It’s hard for me to put into words “their looks” because it is such an organic process. They just look the way they look to me, each one evolving as the show as continues.
Q: What has been your favorite episode, and what is your favorite costume?
Haders: My favorite episodes are “The Studio Job,” written by Scott Veach, directed by Jonathan Frakes; “The 10 Li’l Grifters Job,” written by Geoffrey Thorne and directed by Arvin Brown; “The Van Gogh Job,” written by John Rogers and Chris Downey, and directed by John Rogers; and “The DB Cooper Job,” written by John Rogers & Chris Downey and directed by Marc Roskin.
For “The Studio Job,” I designed costume for Beth that to this day, remains my favorite from the show. I also designed Gina’s black super-shouldered pleather jacket. Add all the guys “con” looks & guest star John Schneider, and that episode was a blast!
When I first read the script for “The 10 Li’l Grifters Job,” I was totally daunted. After Geoffrey, Arvin hatched a plan to make the script work within budget constraints, it became one of the funniest to do. The episode was thrift-store mania and crazy imaginations running amuck. We had 100+ background performers, and they all had to have been a detective from some point in history. It was all hands on deck getting them all dressed. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard.
“The Van Gogh Job” was one of the hardest but most rewarding episodes to work on. I flew to LA for three days and pulled 1930s and ’40s costumes by myself. I was up on a ladder 15 feet in the air, from the time the shop opened at 8 a.m. until close at 6 p.m. It was back-breaking work, but I’m proudest of this episode. I designed the yellow cape that Parker wears as Dorothy. I was super inspired by the painting in the script, and I designed the episode around it. This was my favorite episode.
“The DB Cooper Job” – ahhhh, the 1970s. I love that the writers took a true story and somehow came up with an ending while immersing our cast in the plot. I designed Beth’s flight attendant dress, jacket and hat. I had the most fun with the guys. They were all so into it, especially Christian. He embraced the ’70s like no one else. I had a blast on this one.
Q: What character do you have the most fun with?
Haders: I love them all. We are all on this journey of discovery together, so we have really become a family. It’s been a great run. I’m a very lucky person to be able to be so creative and have fun with such a fantastic crew, writers, directors and actors.