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Our two favorite non-fiction Star Trek authors, who have brought us some of the most comprehensive looks behind the scenes of the Trek franchise, are without a doubt Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.
Once again, this married research team has produced an amazing look into a new aspect of Trek production: the wardrobe and costume work that’s brought the future to life for the past five decades.
Taking some time out of their busy schedules, Paula and Terry spoke via email with TrekCore about their latest release.
TREKCORE: The two of you have worked together on several previous Star Trek non-fiction releases, perhaps most notably the wonderfully in-depth and wonderful and photo collections.
What drew you to this project, focusing exclusively on the fashions of the Star Trek franchise?
Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann: To be honest, we were asked whether we were interested in doing it. CBS, the licensor, and publisher Insight Editions were both familiar with our previous books about Star Trek, and they assumed we were up to the job. It sounded like a fascinating project — so of course we said yes.
TREKCORE: There must have been a tremendous amount of research that went into this book. How did your work process on differ from your previous projects?
PM & TE: We’ve developed a technique over the years, which we followed, though it turns out that every book is a bit different: we contact people who have been associated with the particular aspect of Star Trek we’re researching, and ask them a lot of questions.
This fashion designs sketches tumblr 2018 time, because we now live in Oregon, we also made a lengthy visit to Los Angeles to go through CBS’s Star Trek image archives. We also contacted libraries across the United States that our research revealed were in possession of costume sketches donated by some of the costume designers.“Mirror” men: Spock and Kirk’s uniforms from the Terran Empire’s ISS Enterprise.
TREKCORE: What about the costumes themselves, were you able to get up close and personal with the original pieces?
PM & TE: CBS had a number of original costumes in storage and a few more on office display mannequins; some of them are the costumes that fans get to see as part of the Star Trek traveling exhibitions around the world. We were able to look at — and touch — some of those while we were in Los Angeles.
CBS was also in contact with several fan collectors who had purchased costumes over the years, and we asked the collectors if they’d mind bringing them in for some special photo sessions. After the costumes were fitted on rented mannequins, photographer Ethan Boehme set up lighting and did a fabulous job of capturing images.
TREKCORE: Aside from photography, what concept artwork or costume design material did you have access to?
PM & TE: The studio has a collection of concept art from the various television shows and movies that we were allowed to use. In other cases, we tracked down art that had been sold through auction houses. For instance, Bonham’s handled the auction of William Theiss’s estate after his death. And we found additional pieces in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library and Harvard University’s library.Concept art for the once-and-done pajama-style uniforms from ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture.’
TREKCORE: Which of Star Trek‘s costume designers did you have a chance to speak to while you were working on this book?
PM & TE: We held conversations with six of the designers, and they went into great detail about certain costumes from the franchise.. For the Borg, we got perspective from three different designers — Durinda Rice Wood, Robert Blackman and Deborah Everton, who each created a unique take on the Borg over the years.
Bob Blackman also told us a story about the evolution of Seven of Nine’s silver regeneration suit that is particularly fascinating.
TREKCORE: Many Star Trek civilizations seem to follow what we call the ‘planet of the hats’ trend, where everyone shares the same style of clothing, headgear, hairstyles, etc. Did you spend much time discussing the process of designing fashion trends for entire alien species?
PM & TE: We think that was most obvious in the work of William Theiss for the original series and for the first season of The Next Generation, but each designer had their own rationales for what people on certain planets would tend to wear based on their civilizations.Ferengi fashion stands tall in ‘Star Trek Costumes’ — okay, not tall, but you know what we mean.
TREKCORE: What insights did you learn about the costuming trends as Star Trek has progressed through the decades? How have the uniforms evolved over the years?
PM & TE: Each of the designers were obviously influenced by the fashion look of his or her particular era. William Theiss, for example, was surrounded by the revolutionary fashion scene of the Sixties. While some of his designs definitely resembled those of Mary Quant and Rudi Gernreich, he professed a personal preference for Pierre Cardin and Donald Brooks.
Robert Blackman enjoyed looking at fashion from all eras, and drew upon, for example, Balenciaga, when he designed fashions for Famke Janssen in Interestingly, when Michael Kaplan was charged with recreating the Star Trek look for J.J. Abrams’ movies, he reviewed the work of Sixties era designers like Quant, Gernreich and Andre Courreges.
And it’s amazing how much all of the designers were influenced by hardware stores and thrift shops.
As for the uniforms, they certainly became more ‘military’ styled for the early movies, and then swung to a less-military look for the Next Generation and early Deep Space Nine and Voyager designs — and then military-styled again for the later films featuring the TNG crew.
While the earlier incarnations had only one or two variations on standard uniforms for a particular version of Star Trek — say a duty uniform and a dress uniform—Michael Kaplan created a whole bunch of different outfits for different jobs for the Abrams’ reboot movies.Lovely sketches of Michael Kaplan’s copper volcano suit from ‘Into Darkness’ shine.
TREKCORE: What was the most surprising thing you learned about costume design while working on this book?
PM & TE: While the design process is a proverbial “one man show,” it truly takes a village to run a wardrobe department involving everyone from the executive producer to the local jewelry designer. It’s a miracle that a complicated costume can sometimes be created overnight — or even on the spot, as BarBara Luna explains regarding one outfit she wears in
TREKCORE: Do you have any personal favorite looks from those featured in the book?
PM & TE: We love all of Theiss’s classic double-stick-tape-required Star Trek costume, such as Andrea’s outfit from and Lt. Palamas’s dress in
We also really like both of Kamala’s outfits in “The Perfect Mate,” and Jadzia’s wedding dress from DS9. We gave a special page to the Cat Dancer from Star Trek V — it’ll surprise you — and we included a full-length shot of Riker’s “boy toy” outfit from but unfortunately not with him wearing it. This is a tough question to answer, because there are so many to mention.Paula hangs with the Duras sisters — well, their armor — at CBS Consumer Products’ offices.
TREKCORE: Was any part of your research targeted towards any of the makeup or hair/wig design — or is that something for another book?
PM & TE: Ooh — what a good idea. May the question go from your words to some publisher’s ears!
TREKCORE: Did either of you have any fashion background before starting?
PM & TE: Well, we’ve both been wearing clothing since we were babies — just don’t ask us about the Seventies.
Questions supplied by TrekCore Guest Contributor.
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