What is your advice/opinion on designing costumes that exist in a pre-existing world, i.e how might you create a look that fits into the overall aesthetic while not being overly derivative? (sorry if this makes no sense)
Also completely unrelated but I just wanted to thank you for all of your amazing Poetry in Costume pieces because they’re completely and totally wonderful and have along with notbecauseofvictories stuff made me fall in love with star wars
First of all, thank you so much! Being mentioned in the same breath as notbecauseofvictories is insanely flattering.
When designing something for a pre-existing world with an established aesthetic and style, I would absolutely approach it as a period piece. If you’re designing set in, for instance, the Elizabethan era. So you need to do your sixteenth century research. Look at primary sources: paintings, sketches, pinning down the classes that you will be dealing with primary (upper, lower, occupation etc.) Just start gathering resources both visual and written. Maybe consider some films set in this period, as a reference of what to avoid or not replicate or insight on how a certain thing was approached.
Then consider your widre story, its themes. Gather together mood and thematic resources. Images that evoke the colour pallette you want, the colour, the feel. It could be absolutely anything at all: editorials, fashion from any era, art, photography, architecture, anything. You would then incorporate and interpert those specific items through your designs in fabrics or detailing, by twisting those period pieces to belong to the story and the characters. Think of Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, even Elizabeth the Golden Age against the first film, The Virgin Queen, Tudors (technically earlier, but very specific in its beautiful-nonsense aesthetic). All of these share the same era, location, and many many of the same characters, but all of them are very identifiable in their own aesthetic.
So, when designing something that is set in a fictional world that has already been established. Take this exact same process and apply it to what came before. Your primary historical sources are the films/media that already exists. And then you apply those character and story specifics. To keep things Star Wars and immediate: This is the exact approach Glyn Dillon and Dave Crossman took for Rogue One. With Rogue One, though, it was almost a dual period piece - the historicity of the original trilogy within Star Wars, but also the original trilogy as a 1970′s piece. So that text was examined closely, taken apart and replicated. Then a very modern aesthetic was filtered through that to give Rogue One an aesthetic that was both sharp, current and exciting but also intensely familiar and recognisable on a number of levels.
I hope that this makes sense!