Emmy Category Analysis: Fantasy Costumes – Blog

by Claudio Alves

From 2015 to 2017, fantasy and sci-fi costumes won alongside period styles at the Emmys. Then, in 2018, they got their own category. Unlike the contemporary costume category, this one loves repetition. At least he liked game of thrones, who has won the race three times. For the past two years, however, this is a category where the TV Academy honors great superhero productions. watchmen and Wanda vision are our newest winners, and either Loki Where Moon Knight could continue the trend. That being said, the biggest boon to a show’s chances in this race seems to be its overall popularity across the board, in which case, What we do in the shadows might have a chance…

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes


  • Christine Wada, Nora Pedersen, Tamsin Costello & Carol Beadle for LokiEpisode: “Glorious Purpose” (S01E01)
    • Description: After picking up the Tesseract in Avengers: EndgameLoki finds himself called before the Time Variance Authority (TVA), a Kafkaesque bureaucratic organization that exists outside of time and space.
  • Meghan Kasperlik, Martin Mandeville, Richard Davies & Wilberth Gonzalez for Moon KnightEpisode: “Gods and Monsters” (S01E06)
    • Description: As Moon Knight joins the fray, Marc, Steven and Khonshu must work together to stop Ammit.
  • Christine Bieselin Clark, Michell Ray Kenney & Allison Agler for Star Trek: PicardEpisode: “Penance” (S02E02)
    • Description: Picard finds himself transported to an alternate timeline in the year 2400 where his longtime nemesis, Q, has orchestrated a final trial. Picard searches for his trusted crew as he tries to find the cause of this dystopian future.
  • Shawna Trpcic, Julie Robar & Areayl Cooper for Bobba Fett’s bookEpisode: “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land” (S01E01)
    • Description: Boba Fett holds court.
  • Lucinda Wright and Rebecca Jempson for the witcherEpisode: “Family” (S02E08)
    • Description: Geralt battles a demon targeting his loved ones as the continent’s most powerful players step up their pursuit of Ciri.
  • Laura Montgomery, Judy Laukkanen and Barbara Cardoso for What we do in the shadowsEpisode: “The Wellness Center” (S03E08)
    • Description: Nandor is persuaded to reject vampirism and pursue a healthier lifestyle.


First, let’s get rid of the Disney properties — those damn shows I never would have watched if it wasn’t for those Emmy nominations. Loki is the best of the lot, both in terms of overall quality and costume design, although you might not realize it if you watch the submitted episode alone. Instead of capitalizing on the final chapters with their cavalcade of absurd Loki variants, cosmic new characters, and occasional space-time detours, Disney+ chose the series’ most understated episode to represent it in this run. On the one hand, the mechanics of the Byzantine plot make the first episode also the most accessible. On the other hand, narrative accessibility is not the point here.

By looking only Loki‘s submitted first, there’s still plenty of costume excellence to enjoy. To dress the intra-dimensional VAT, Christine Wada diverts our precepts of prison dress and office dress code, evoking an offbeat banality. His designs fulfill two paradoxical purposes – both supernatural and precisely prosaic – managing to flatter the cast along the way. With his Alexandra Byrne-designed finery quickly vaporized, Tom Hiddleston is shoved into a bland inmate uniform and placed before a court drawn in teaspoon and day-old coffee stain tones.

Bureaucratic modes are packed with interesting details beyond their hyper-consistent color scheme. Shirt collars extend to the shoulders in odd configurations, and lapels are routed through negative space, holes cut into the jacket’s outer fabric. Outside of the TVA premises, things are more classic, with a flashback to Loki as DB Cooper and the usual superhero style prevailing. Additionally, you also get lightning bolts of fantastic archetypes. Our first glimpse of a future main actor in the story is through a stark figure, a hooded shadow in the night. It’s a cliché image, but it works. As we’ll see, there’s no shortage of proven tactics in this Emmy race.

As a matter of fact, Loki would be a good winner. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the MCU’s remaining contender – Moon Knight. Instead of favoring practical costumes for their superpowered protagonist, Kasperlik and his team rely on CGI. As long as it’s static, it almost works, but once Oscar Isaac’s digital double starts moving, the illusion is ruined. It turns out that animating linen bandages and flowing capes is no easy task. Elsewhere, actual fabric is involved, mixing pseudo-Egyptian iconography with Marvel-branded aesthetics to fun results. There’s nothing particularly fantastic about the screen, but nothing too objectionable either.

Our latest Disney+ original is Boba Fett’s Book, where the best costumes are completely copied from the original trilogy without any creative license. It’s not a dig, because nostalgia is paramount in this type of exercise. Plus, it’s impressive how technically perfect some recreations are, including ones that may seem outdated in style these days. The original designs are less successful, but their B-movie feel is a nice departure from most of those Star Wars shows with all their dogged seriousness.

Switch from one mega-franchise to another, Star Trek: Picard offers a fascinating feat in fascist fashion. Transported to an alternate timeline where their universe has embarked on the path of supremacist totalitarianism, Picard and his team are reimagined in monochrome couture. Everything is crisp, black and gray, punctuated with stiff collars and bands of red throughout to deliver that classic Nazi look. The costumes don’t deserve any points for their originality, but they do their job, serving as a shortcut to rotten reality. You don’t need too much exposure when a preview of your main cast gets the message across.

Something along the way has gone horribly wrong in this world, turning a peaceful utopia into a militaristic nightmare. It’s economical storytelling through heavy design. There’s no denying the effectiveness of this approach even though another more creative but equally succinct solution would have been even better.

the witcher The team follows a similar system, drawing on classic imagery and genre aesthetics that have been in place for almost a century. The result is standard down to anonymity, but it’s well executed and pretty enough. For the second season finale, Lucinda Wright works in a dynamic of contrasts and incongruences, spending most of her time with the story’s great villains in white lace facing our heroes in black leather. The power of projected fragility makes a strong impression. At the same time, in a land of idealized dreams and memories, the horror-adjacent vibe of the episode is offset by bursts of golden foam and pastel silks.

Costume design as world-building is central to fantasy and science-fiction projects, making these sketches of originality a sad evolution. However, sometimes working with cliched iconography is the point, forming the basis of series-encompassing sight gags. Such is the case of What we do in the shadows, finally nominated for best costumes in their third year of sartorial excellence with a vampiric twist. It was time !

Indeed, if it were up to me, Laura Montgomery would go home with gold on her hands on Emmy night, both for her work on the overall series and for this particular submission. “The Wellness Center” finds the creator pitting the gang’s usual gothic glamor against a new-age cult where vampires strive to become human again through jazzercize, aerobics and daily self-harm. It’s a fantastic showcase that begins with a costume party in Turkish period attire before moving on to 80s nostalgia. It goes through Nadja’s brand of Victorian reality doll and Guillermo’s collection of cozy sweaters. It’s incredible.

Unfortunately, I think Moon Knight will prevail as the candidate with the most nominations. Still, What we do in the shadowsRecognition “above the line” can signal a well-deserved victory. Time will tell if justice will prevail.

Will win: Moon Knight
Should Win: What we do in the shadows
Disclose: What we do in the shadows

See here for a list of all Emmy nominees this year.

Who do you think will win the fantasy costume design race? Who are you rooting for?