The original series premiered on September 8, 1966 and while that series only lasted three years it spawned four spin offs, an animated series, twelve movies, hundreds of novels, and has legions of seriously devoted fans. So its no surprise that plenty of people are pretty excited for the anniversary and Paramount is busy releasing retrospective books and planning conventions. All of that makes a dedicated member of the Church of Trek like myself
|Image from Futurama another awesome sci-fi series|
seriously crazy with excitement. One of the first books released in celebration of the anniversary is the Star Trek Costume Book: Five Decades of Costumes from The Final Frontier.
As I've written before (post one, post two) I adore the kitschy sci-fi style of Star Trek so this book is right up my alley. I've had it since it was released in October and while there are things about it that I think could be better, over all I love it.
It starts with The Original Series of course and while I wish it had gone into much more detail, I enjoyed the coverage of the hillariously outlandish 60s looks. I'm also pleased that the book gives credit to a man I think is an under-appreciated genius, William Ware Theiss, the first Star Trek costume designer.
Theiss even had his own theory of costume design: The Theiss Titillation Theory which states that "the degree to which a costume is considered sexy is directly proportional to how accident-prone it appears to be." The theory is on ample display in costumes worn by some of the female guest stars
Theiss didn't just focus on the ladies though, there where plenty of scanty get ups for the men. Its rare and somewhat refresshing to see a television where male bodies are on display almost as much of female ones, I can't think of anyone but Theiss who did that in the 1960s.
Apparently Theiss's costumes did cause some chaos on set since his theory meant that the outfits where often slipping and falling of the actors and had to be taped in place.
Theiss's sketches are also displayed in the book showing the evolution of a design from concept to execution, which is interesting.
From the Original Series the book goes onto cover all of the series and the spin offs and a fan learns some interesting facts about the outfits. For example series creator Gene Roddenberry apparently hated wrinkles and felt they'd be eliminated in the future so the uniforms are always made out of tight stretchy fabrics that are designed to resist wrinkling.
But it never quite works right which is why the actors are constantly seen adjusting their uniforms. Fan's even gave the signature shirt tug a name, the Picard maneuver. You can see it in action, many times, below:
It seems that no one working on Star Trek is ever 100% happy with the uniforms and they are being endlessly re-designed and fussed over. They change for almost every series and film but they are always fairly tight and wrinkle free.
and by Deep Space Nine and Voyagers the colors are reversed and the fit is a bit looser.
Enterprise is a prequel so the uniforms are a bit more in line with the space suits we see today
and the uniforms from Star Trek The Motion Picture are too seventies for words, and what the heck are those buckle things at everyones waist?
This is just a sampling of the changes the book covers many more.
Until I read the book I didn't know that Theiss designed the first season of costumes for The Next Generation, but in retrospect its pretty obvious. There are some seriously crazy looks. Including a skirt for men (if you think about it the idea that men in the future would be wearing dresses and skirts is pretty revolutionary, particularly for the 1980s) and some sort of shiny wrap thing with leggings that the men have to wear on a female dominated planet.
Wesley Crushers early season sweaters are also a testament to 80s fabulousness. I just can not get over the orange one it seriously leaves me awestruck, here is just nothing that compares too it.
Sadly as the series goes on the fashion gets a bit duller, and while I think all the costume designers have done a reasonably good job no one compares to Theiss. But the aliens are always fun and the book covers all of the races. You learn that Klingon costumes involve a lot of quilted leather and jewelry
That the costumers regret the decision to give the Romulan's giant shoulder pads, it was supposed to make them look aggressive.
and that Vulcans are understated and tasteful
You have to be a fan of the show and have a sense of humor to appreciate Star Trek style, its certainly emblematic of fashion icon's Diana Vreeland famous line:
If you love Star Trek, and you love the crazy looks. I can't recommend The Star Trek Book of Costumes enough.
Coming Soon: Our Star Trek costume photo shoot, starring canine trekkies