Chat with Rebekka Sorensen Kjelstrup Costume Designer for Riverdale
Who would have thought that a re-imagined Archie Comics universe on the CW TV network would become such a phenomenon? But Riverdale is no ordinary teen drama. I love the show, which stars Lili Reinhart, Cole Sprouse, KJ Apa and Camila Mendes because of all the references to pop culture and especially to film noir, one of my favorite classic movie genres.
It's my pleasure to work with the Riverdale costume department to provide them with jewelry for the show. Rebekka Sorensen Kjelstrup kindly took some time out of her hiatus to answer a few of my questions about her work on the show! Images are from Rebekka's Instagram, you can follow her @7sistersnorway.
How did you get your start in costume design for television?
My theatre design background gave me the opportunity to apply for film work. My portfolio showcase anything from modern to period costume design. I quickly moved from the theatre world into the MOW [movie of the week] land. I got that one opportunity and it was up to me what I did with it. The film company liked my work and moved me onto one project after the other.
Tell us a little bit about your process of designing for a character.
It always starts with the script. What’s on the pages about the character and their actions/adventures. I then do some research on line, magazine or books. The research style depends on if it’s a modern or period movie. I then bring some ideas to the show runner and director. We come up with a style and general color palette for the character. I always love to hear the actors take on the character they are playing. This helps to make sure the actor is comfortable with our direction.
On your Instagram we get some sneak peeks at your team and office (thank you!). I’d love to know about some of the challenges you as a costume designer face on a day to day basis when helping to bring these characters to life.
Time is always our biggest challenge. Can we get the actor in for a fitting with their shooting schedule before the outfit plays. The time often determines if it’s a build or shopped. Sometimes we do half builds. More of a modification of a garment rather than starting from scratch.
Betty, Veronica and Cheryl are such distinct individual characters. Are there any touches for each character that are must-haves in terms of their costumes?
Absolutely, Cheryl has to wear something red at all times as it’s her color. Veronica always needs to be dressed to perfection no matter what her adventure is. Betty needs to stay true to her girl next door style. There is usually less layers to Betty, simple and clean silhouette.
How much of the costumes used on Riverdale are custom-built (like the Serpents’ jackets or Jughead’s beanie)?
For season 3 we probably built 30-40 percent of the costumes.
What custom looks were the most fun to create?
The Prom night. Renaissance costumes. Love playing with luscious fabrics and trim.
I’ve read the world of Riverdale being compared to Twin Peaks and Black Mirror but to me it is more of a direct descendant of classic film noir. Do you have any specific film or other references you draw from for your design for Riverdale?
I love looking at the fashion from movie stars such as James Dean, Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Katherine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, John Wayne, and Henry Fonda. Anything from 1920-1980’s.
Will we see the characters’ looks evolve as they progress through high school (and maybe beyond)?
That’s my hope. But I honestly don’t know. That’s up to our show runner and his writing team.
There is a lot of high/low fashion used on Riverdale. What are your tips for putting together outfits on a budget?
Always focus on the upper half as it’s what we see the most on screen. Shop sale pieces and Mixing high end with some lower end name brands. Accessories is the key to a complete look.
I will be attending my first Riverdale fan convention this June. Any chance you’ll attend a fan convention in the future?
I would love to.