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Credit: BBC America

Look of the Week: Felix is Orphan Black's sartorial secret weapon

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Jun 26, 2020, 2:30 PM EDT

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!

On Orphan Black, costume helped differentiate and define the many clones Tatiana Maslany depicted across during the five-season run. From the edgy (mostly black) closet of Sarah Manning to the boho scientist aesthetic of Cosima Niehaus, clothing told the viewer who each clone was. Whenever a clone swap was required, switching outfits aided the deception taking place. However, no one was better at playing dress-up or pulling off a quick change than Sarah's foster brother Felix Dawkins (Jordan Gavaris). As vital to the Clone Club as any of the characters played by Maslany, Felix infused heart, charm, humor, and sexual prowess into both the narrative and his attire.

Credit: BBC America 

Sharing with siblings is a part of growing up, and while Sarah and Felix are not related by blood, the British pair mirror each other in how they dress. In the pilot, Felix meets his estranged sis at a pub dressed in layers that are vital for the cold Canadian climate. A military-style frock coat paired with a hoodie and chest-baring tee (all in various shades of grey) matches his sister's penchant for DGAF clothing. Low-slung skinny jeans and boots finish off the effortless look as designed by Laurie Drew.

Credit: BBC America 

An artist with a warehouse apartment that doubles as studio space, Felix's professional and personal life is entwined — he also makes extra cash through sex work. Self-assured Felix has the gift of the gab that comes from years of getting by using words as weapons. There is a feline physicality to the way he moves through a scene (and not just because his name has echoes of this animal) with ease, but always with an awareness of the environment.

His occasionally sheer attire shows he is confident with his body and sexuality, which includes a mini kimono floral robe (with a thong underneath) and the aforementioned chest-baring tees and tanks. Distressed cardigans and sweaters are often thrown on when his sexual escapades are rudely interrupted by clone drama.

Credit: BBC America

Unafraid to bare his butt, Felix has worn assless chaps to a club and painted with nothing but an apron on — the latter has been immortalized as a Funko Pop figure. Equally at home creating art or out investigating Neolution leads at the latest exclusive hotspot, Felix contains multitudes. "Clubland is my world," he tells Sarah in Season 1's "Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner" before pulling out his makeup bag so he can match the cybergoth patrons (his outfit is already in this wheelhouse).

Felix isn't a carbon copy of Sarah's sartorial choices; rather, they look like siblings who borrowed each other's clothes from an early age. Faking it as the cool clone Katja requires some additional pieces to hide the obvious hair difference (Katja's short dyed red 'do is a giveaway), so she swipes a hat, shades, and fur gilet from her brother's closet. Later, she turns to him when Helena needs to change out of her blood-covered bridal gown. His masculine-meets-feminine threads are perfect for clone emergencies and looking stylish too — the burgundy tee paired with striped pants is an excellent combination on Helena.

Credit: BBC America 

Stepping out of his sartorial comfort zone when the moment calls for it, Felix has garments available that don't fit with his overall edgy theme. He scoffs when Sarah tells him to dress "suburban," but a sensible knit happens to be within reach so he can play the preppy acting coach part to save Alison in her time of need.

A retro thread weaves its way through his monochromatic garments including bug-eyed specs, white turtleneck, and a grey G Star cavalry coat worn at the start of Season 2. Going on the run with Sarah requires a lewk; however, this is far from ideal for sleeping in the back of trucks or having lunch in the woods. This particular coat is from the women's line, proving how arbitrary clothing gender classification is. Future Schitt's Creek designer Debra Hanson took over costume duties in Season 2 — like Felix, David Rose is another gender-fluid fashion style icon — and standout garments include Topshop letter-print pants, an ombre Ted Baker coat, platform lace-up boots, and an Urban Outfitters sweater (also worn by Taissa Farmiga in American Horror Story: Coven). Womenswear can easily be menswear and vice versa.

Credit: BBC America 

While discussing being an openly gay actor in an interview with Vulture as Orphan Black was coming to a close, Jordan Gavaris noted the impact playing this character on this show had on him: "I'd never really explored my femininity before Felix. I mean, I had a sense of it. I grew up with two older sisters and my mom is awesome and was very present, and I think one of the biggest things I learned was that I need to carry what I've learned about femininity with me to other characters that don't walk or talk like Felix."

Credit: BBC America 

The femininity and fluidity are visible in his costuming (including the brands worn), and he goes on to add how this will impact his work post-Orphan Black, "I'm much more interested in playing characters, even hetero characters, where I can bring all of myself. All of my sexuality. Everything I've learned about my own femininity and my own gender fluidity, I'd be interested in playing characters that explore that."

Clothing is part of Felix's armor, so while there is unabashed confidence to his self-expression, he also uses it as a way to guard himself. By dressing similarly to Sarah, they are each other's anchor and link to a shared painful past.

Credit: BBC America

"That's my brother, which means he is one of our sisters" is Sarah's way of introducing Helena to Felix. He isn't a clone but he is one of them. Helena quickly catches on and starts calling him "seestra" — a term of endearment and acceptance. Felix somewhat reluctantly finds Helena something to wear, no doubt choosing something he doesn't want back.

Acting as a stylist of sorts, Felix can be counted on in clone fashion emergency. He knows that to play an effective Rachel, Sarah needs to wear white so she can dazzle. "Fetch me something gay," he tells Alison in a Season 2 episode when she asks for his help; the acting coach persona they have crafted for the nosy residents of her suburban neighborhood from the previous season is required.

Credit: BBC America

Identity is a big aspect of the Orphan Black narrative, which uses clothing to deconstruct and formulate an image. A gender-fluid approach runs through Felix's costume design, which makes him the ideal sibling to borrow clothing from. Whether painting in the buff (except for an apron), a glorious floral robe, or his rotation of edgy monochromatic looks, he has an outfit for every occasion — while also knowing exactly who he is.

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