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Look of the Week: Picard's reassuring neutral dad style
Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
"Patrick Stewart Will Look Great Forever" is the headline of a 2017 GQ profile of the iconic actor, which is something Star Trek: Picard is more than proving during its first season. Set two decades after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis in the year 2399, the revival of this beloved character demonstrates that when it comes to simple taste, Jean-Luc Picard's look is timeless.
Warning: Spoilers for the first season of Star Trek: Picard within.
Coming up with a concept for fashion this far in the future is no easy feat, which is something costume designer Christine Bieselin Clark had to consider when creating the looks for the former Starfleet captain. The template has been set by the original series starring this character, as well as the streamlined uniforms of other Star Trek ventures. Neutral tones dominate with a stone palette, injecting some warm color via a highly covetable burgundy color knit which matches the wine from his family vineyard while also nodding to the uniform shade he wore in the past. He is retired, which is reflected in the casual but still functional garments in his closet.
One of the benefits of no longer working for the Federation is he has free rein to wear whatever he wants, but instead he opts for classic pieces that maintain an approachable but still authoritative aesthetic. Everything about Picard's luxurious knits is soothing — the TV equivalent of a weighted blanket, ideal for the 24th century and as we watch in 2020.
Serving up sophisticated dad in a rotation of turtlenecks, Aran knitwear with sensible elbow patches, and suede vests with quilted accents, Jean-Luc is the calming presence we need right now. And in more good news, CBS All Access is currently offering a 30-day free trial for all your Picard bingeing and costume admiration needs. Like the wine he is producing from his vineyard, Picard — and Stewart's — sartorial choices are getting more refined with age.
When Bieselin Clark spoke to SYFY WIRE last month, she discussed how his past would impact his attire: "Picard comes from a lifetime of service and structure and order; the idea of flair is a little bit silly. But he is also a very fit and active and viable older man, and we wanted to make sure his clothes reflect that." Amen to the decision to stuff his closet with tailored pieces, cozy sweaters, and a dash of casual with grey tees and a Pinky Blinders-adjacent cap. This is how you do a capsule collection to cover varying degrees of dress code and social expectation.
However, there is one major exception to the "little bit silly" rule, which occurred midway through the season when Picard went undercover on the planet Freecloud in "Stardust City Rag." He used clothing to really get into the French character he was embodying to conceal his identity. A dodgy accent and flamboyant fashion choices really bring this moment to life as he goes all-in with this alias. A beret, eyepatch, a natty little scarf, and a jacquard jacket is a nightmare combination for anyone who prefers the sleek minimalism of the neutrals, but it was a much-needed whimsical deviation from the norm. He is not going to start any fashion revolutions in this particular get-up, even if he was under the impression that he was giving off a sinister vibe. Nevertheless, it wasn't long before the cozy-looking cashmere had replaced the brief sojourn into clubland attire.
Even this far in the future, the allure of knitted garments is hard to ignore in the choice of sweaters the titular character and some of his cohort favor. Sure, we don't know who made the burgundy turtleneck Jean-Luc wears in the pilot or what kind of shopping experience exists in 2399, but the person who made this actual garment is a part-time faculty member in the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Maria Ficalora teaches machine knitting and has made pieces for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Irishman, and Joker. The sheer variety of Ficalora's work underscores the notion that knitted garments aren't necessarily restricted by a set time period or genre; rather, they are as timeless as Picard's burgundy number.
Across the crew's travels in Season 1, the climate of the location obviously has an impact on the costume worn, which is why there was a change-up in last week's episode. Comparisons to another space-set franchise are impossible to ignore when Picard rocked up in the first part of "Et in Arcadia Ego" wearing an outfit straight out of the Han Solo playbook. For the latter, all he is missing is the infinity scarf, but as tension is raised, maybe Picard didn't think now was the time to dial up his hot authority figure aesthetic. Again, neutral tones are reassuring even if he has a hard time convincing anyone that his plan is the correct one.
Revivals of popular characters come with various amounts of baggage, in part because of high expectations coupled with rose-tinted nostalgia. And while there have been some narrative bumps along the way, a weekly check-in from Patrick Stewart as the beloved Jean-Luc Picard has been a welcome respite from the world. In the case of the universe, it is beneficial to explore places where no person has been before — but when it comes to style, Picard proves that no matter where your adventure takes you, the classics never go out of fashion.