Marvel's Daredevil S3's costume designer recounts the odyssey of bringing Wilson Fisk's iconic white suit to life (and to the Kingpin's liking)
Presented by: Josh Weiss
Netflix's third season of Marvel's Daredevil represents a major shift in power dynamics for Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio). When we check back in with the Devil of Hell's Kitchen in the wake of Marvel's The Defenders' traumatic finale, he is critically injured and left swirling in a pool of doubt and self-pity. Meanwhile, Fisk has struck up a deal with the FBI and is, once again, a free man. In order to get back into the public's good graces, Fisk runs a smear campaign against Daredevil in order to turn the masked hero into New York's "real villain."
Given Season 3 was going to be such a momentous season for Fisk, it seemed the time was right for the villain to don his iconic white suit Marvel fans know so well from the comics. This was easier said than done, and the project fell to head costume designer Liz Vastola, who is fairly new to the world of Marvel; she joined the MCU this past March with Season 2 of Marvel's Jessica Jones.
"A lot of these characters that I met on the show, I inherited," Vastola told SYFY WIRE. "That was a process for the ages. I think [the suit is] one of the things I'm most proud of that I've ever worked on... I'm very proud of it, I think it came out really well."
It all began with a sit-down between Vastola and D'Onofrio.
"Vincent and I [looked] through different illustrations of Fisk that different comic book artists have actually sent him over the years ... some that are lifted literally from the comics, some are just interpretations [from] different Marvel illustrators," Vastola says. "He showed me the ones that specifically inspired him and... what the silhouette was and how he wanted to feel in the suit and how the drawing brought something for him."
Next came a meeting with showrunner Erik Oleson and head of Marvel TV, Jeph Loeb.
"[We] whittled it down to one that felt like it was right for the aesthetic we were trying to put forth this season, which is: Matt Murdock's world as a very warm and textured place, whereas Wilson Fisk's world is very stark and colorless and clean and severe," she says. "The drawings that spoke to me the most were the ones of him where he [was] just in a white suit, head-to-toe. And then we left it up to our fitting [team] to figure out what the accouterment would be — if he would wear a tie, if he would wear a vest, if he would wear a white shirt or a black shirt.
"What we landed on was a black shirt, no tie. That's just kind of what Vincent felt the best in."
Those were the easy parts. Getting the fabric and the right color of said fabric turned into a harrowing experience, with the Daredevil crew swiping the best stuff out from under the noses of some major clothing producers.
"The fabric... had to be the perfect white," Vastola says. "It almost became a joke how many times I was throwing white swatches in front of the camera at random times to see what the director of photography [Christopher LaVasseur] thought of them. It had to be that sweet spot of not champagne, not cream, and not gray, but not like optic craziness."
The right fabric ended up being a half-silk, half-wool mix milled in Korea.
"We basically bought the world out of it," Vastola says with a laugh. "A shipment would come in and there were certain fashion companies that the silk distributor was supposed to be selling it to and we would have to rush our shoppers there to make sure we got it."
Once all the materials were acquired, the entire suit was created from scratch by a group of tailors "that earned Vincent's trust and were able to build him a pattern that he liked."
While Kingpin's look is clean, crisp, and plain, Matt's look for this season was rougher and shabbier, but all for a purpose. Just as the hero himself has to rely on senses other than sight, his clothing was meant to invoke the same feelings.
"Matt's setting is dirtier, a little grimier and literally rougher around the edges. We start off with Matt completely down and out, only being able to wear what he has in front of him and we see him have to prioritize for himself what's important and what he needs to find and hang on to in terms of clothing," Vastola says.
Nevertheless, he soon goes back to his classic black suit from Season 1, which is texturally different than last we saw it.
"For me, what I wanted to bring to this version of our black [costume] look and the clothes that he puts on his body is a lot of texture," Vastola says. "I really wanted to kind of feel his sense of touch and feel how he would gravitate toward certain pieces that he knows would help him either blend in or completely disappear.
"The first season version of this black outfit was a very seamless and smooth and kind of slick... My version of it is, the top is a bit of a waffle texture, the pants are very hard twill, so much more rough. His black mask, you can kind of see it's fraying at the edges on purpose, the idea sort of being that he ripped it and put it together the best way he kind of knew how without any kind of sewing or anything like that. There's other pieces that have come out in certain stills, like he has this big Anorak jacket that's kind of ill-fitting and there's a lining in there, which is a little more soft. I've just kind of always wanted that to be in his world and sort of experience costume and clothing another sense."
Marvel's Daredevil Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.