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Look of the Week: The Umbrella Academy embraces the Swinging Sixties
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!
The Umbrella Academy's first season was a stylish affair that utilized a retro aesthetic to tell its superhero tale. Saving the world isn't easy, but it doesn't mean forgoing fashion, as Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) and Klaus (Robert Sheehan) prove. The side effect of Number Five's (Aidan Gallagher) last-ditch attempt to stop the apocalypse sees the siblings scattered across Dallas, Texas, all arriving at different points between 1960 and 1963.
Light spoilers for Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy ahead.
The first episode opens with the group fighting together in an array of black combat attire that fits individual taste — however, it isn't a season-long direction made by costume designer Christopher Hargadon. Rather, the all-black palette is a brief taste of another Doomsday scenario before Five is flung back to 10 days before this event, so he can prevent a nuclear holocaust.
Before the bombs explode, the team takes a less uniform color approach to the Swinging Sixties (except Five in his signature Umbrella Academy ensemble, of course).
As with the first season, Allison and Klaus have the most striking closets of the adopted Hargreeves clan that see them embracing this decade's trends. After she lands in the alleyway from 2019, her Alexander McQueen peplum hero jacket is not the only thing that makes her stand out. When she rushes into a diner, she is quickly made aware that she has traveled back to a segregated South. Notably, Allison has decided to not use her Rumor abilities to give her an advantage at a time when she has limited rights.
In the pilot, she was asked if she was going to wear Valentino to her father's funeral, and now she isn't even allowed to try on clothes in certain stores without Rumoring her way into a fitting room. Actively taking part in the civil rights movement, Allison has ditched high-end bold color garments for a softer palette in checks, stripes, plaids, and florals. Hot pink Helmet Lang cropped sweaters are out, and polyester shirt dresses with nipped-in waists are in.
A lack of designer garments doesn't mean Allison isn't dressing powerfully. A Chanel imitation suit is how she attempts to get her husband Raymond Chestnut (Yusuf Gatewood) out of jail — after a wrongful arrest — in the second episode. Shades of light blue run throughout her '60s closet, including an elegant matching monochromatic look in "A Light Supper" and a pale blue knit that visually ties her to Klaus.
Pants aren't entirely out but are more likely to be worn in the home, which comes in handy later in the season. Cigarette trousers are perfectly paired with a print knotted shirt — all the better for fighting in. Her experience is markedly different from her siblings, and her choice of attire reflects how a Black woman who has spent two years living in this city has adapted to her surroundings and situation.
Sharp tailoring is a specialty of costume designer Hargadon — he is also the man behind exquisite Hannibal suits and The X-Files revival — and the already memorable looks from Season 1 incorporated a mix of contemporary and custom builds. In a recent interview with Elle about Allison's 1960s style, Raver-Lampman noted the designer had scoured "Canada, New York, and L.A. to collect as much vintage clothing as he could. He filled up almost an entire warehouse at our studio in Toronto with unbelievable vintage clothes, purses, hats, jackets, and shoes."
There was an element of mid-century costumes in the first year, with robot mother Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) looking a lot like her movie star namesake and The Handler's (Kate Walsh) wonderfully theatrical villainous attire (we are not ignoring this character's Season 2 costumes — she will be getting her own dedicated post). Meanwhile, in 2019 Klaus was sartorially thrust out of time, but when he lands in 1960 his particular brand turns him into a guru with thousands of followers.
Switching out black lace-up leather pants — fit for the 1970s — for a beautiful custom seafoam blue and white (with a silver iridescent thread) Sherwani paired with stripe drape pants, Klaus quickly adjusts. Using lyrics by TLC as his mantra, Klaus culturally appropriates elements from entertainment and religion in a bid to get a jump start on the Flower Power anti-war symbolism from the end of the '60s.
Hargadon's sketch reveals an undershirt had been conceived to add variety to the look but wasn't used in the end. Circumstances change, so Klaus returns to the less formal "Peacenik" aesthetic when he ventures back to Dallas.
Klaus' penchant for unbuttoned shirts underscores his effortlessness. Everything he wears resembles something he has acquired rather than deeply thought about. Nevertheless, each garment looks like it has been made for him to wear, whether it is sailor pants worn with an open back shirt as he bops to Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away" while day drinking with Allison and Vanya (Ellen Page) or his red-framed sunglasses.
The majority of his Season 2 attire wouldn't look out of place on Harry Styles as part of a Gucci campaign.
A cowboy shirt (also barely buttoned) is another highlight that fits into not only the era but the state he has found himself in, while never sacrificing the gender fluidity that has run throughout his costumes since Season 1 — last year, Hargadon estimated that 60 percent of Klaus' costumes were women's. Meanwhile, Ben (Justin H. Min) remains his constant companion in the same leather jacket and hoodie. He would look out of place in the sea of tranquil blue among Klaus' loyal followers, but he is dead and only Klaus can see him.
The Hargreeves siblings have a variety of challenges to overcome in the second season, but Allison and Klaus prove once again they also possess the power to wield fashion — no matter the decade.