The American fantasy TV series Shadow And Bone can boast possibly the most beautifully embroidered and colorful movie outfits worn by the characters. There are curious military clothes, noble and royal 19th-century style garments, steampunk-style apparel, outfits inspired by traditional attire, and so on. You’ll find numerous catchy and hidden details in these stage costumes, so let’s dive right into the analysis of Shadow And Bone show clothing.
This material is based on the video from YouTube channel “Costume CO”.
Shadow And Bone is an American Netflix series by Eric Heisserer based on the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, both written by Leigh Bardugo.
The costumes are by Calgary-based costume designer Wendy Partridge. She is a film industry veteran. You can find her work in Thor, The Dark World, Hellboy, and Pompeii. She wasn't familiar with Bardugo's book series when she was hired for the job but quickly familiarized herself by reading the source material. She used the books as her launching pad, taking many of the descriptions to bring the costumes to life.
Wendy Partridge said, “The main body of the show has an 1870s, Russian-Prussian influence, but we didn't want to make it a period show. The warring factions in this show are an Asian, Nordic, Celtic and Black America kind of feeling. It means the clothing can be really interesting and all of the other accoutrements can be diverse”.
While author Leigh Bardugo didn't consult on the costumes directly – there wasn't enough time for it – she did say in an interview with Winter is Coming that there was one design that she was adamantly against, although she wouldn't say which one.
She said, “And I need to be clear, I think Wendy Partridge is extraordinary, but this particular costume, there was no way for her to know, but I was just like, ‘No, it cannot be’. It's the kind of thing that probably no one would have noticed or picked up upon, but I literally said to Eric, ‘I will go stand in the street outside Netflix stopping traffic before I let this happen’”, she laughs.
A monumental undertaking by Wendy Partridge and her team was building about 2,000 costumes and getting them completed on time.
And while we can't get into all of the characters in the show, here are the basic groups.
The First Army, also known as the King's Army, is the principal land warfare force of Ravka, along with the Second Army.
Wendy Partridge said of creating the First Army costumes, “It was a very large undertaking, in that there was a lot to manufacture… We also wanted to make [the army] feel like it had been around for a long time, with uniforms being passed down from generation to generation. And so rather than just ordering up 500 army uniforms from some factory, I went about the task of finding every kind of drab colour, shade, texture, and weight of material – sometimes it would just be enough material to make one pair of pants or one jacket”.
The two key characters of the First Army are orphan soldiers Malyen Oretsev and Alina Starkov.
Mal wears a linen Russian peasant shirt with brass button fasteners, olive drab trousers with suspenders, and lace-up leather boots.
Being a tracker, Mal's costume is built for warmth. His two-layer leather jacket with shoulder wings, looking like a World War II issued flight jacket, has a built-in wool underlayer and the leather portion is lined in cream sheep wool. The jacket is also trimmed in gray karakul curly wool.
There's a subtle King's emblem of the two-headed eagle crest on Mal's jacket, as well as on his buttons. This is a similar emblem used by the Imperial Russian Army.
Mal also wears an army-issued greatcoat, also in olive drab.
As a cartographer, Alina's costume is slightly different.
Her undercostume consists of a blouse tucked into high-waisted pants worn with suspenders.
Her hip-length coat has front flap pockets, and it's trimmed in the same karakul curly wool.
She wears it with a belt buckle featuring the King's emblem, and the blue accent on the belt is also picked up on the collar and cuffs.
She often wears a jacket with a matching blue scarf with gold trim.
The blue and gold color appear to come from the Ravka’s royal sigil of a gold double eagle on a blue field.
The patch on Alina's jacket features the First Army cartographer symbol.
The First Army, including Mal, wear a ushanka, a Russian fur cap with ear covering flaps that can be tied up to the crown of the cap. This style of hat is still worn today and very popular in northern climates. The hats are made from karakul wool and have a metal cockade of the emblem on the front.
Wendy Partridge said, “all of insignia or ranking, all of that was created for the film and the buttons were made and the buckles were made for the King's emblem”.
According to Elite Daily, Wendy Partridge designed an all-white version of Alina's First Army uniform during a scene in Episode 1 to help the VFX team create the illusion that Alina's entire body glows with light when she uses her powers to save Mal.
The Second Army “Grisha”
The Second Army is the principal land warfare force of Ravka, along with the First Army, and is made up entirely of Grisha. Like a uniform, every soldier of the Second Army wears a kefta in the color of their order – crimson, blue, and purple, with contrasting bullion embroidery.
With its center front opening and separate cut skirt, the keftas are a rather basic garment, much like that of a late-19th-century frock coat.
The coat is bound around the collar, front, side slits, and hem, with contemporary bias, and it closes at the front with non-functional embroidered buttons.
All of the coats are lined in fur trim and everyone wears the kefta with a belt and buckle featuring the King's emblem.
There appear to be two lengths of the coat depending on the occasion. For more formal events like the winter fete, a long deer kefta is worn over a silk blouse and full-length skirt on the women and collared shirts and high-waisted button fly pants on the men.
For training and active duty, the Grisha wear a shorter jacket with a Russian peasant shirt with the skewed collar and pants tucked into tall black leather boots. The women appear to wear either skirts or pants.
When it's cold, they wear circle capes slightly shorter in the front, with small fur collars. The capes are made from the same colored cloth as their keftas, with embroidery that matches their jackets. The Second Army often wear the traditional Russian karakul-style hat named for the breed of sheep with curly wool, with a metal cockade of the King's emblem on the front.
Dressed in chokha woolen coats, these Russian Cossack World War I uniforms look to have influenced the kefta design.
The kefta, as seen in Shadow And Bone, appears to also have taken some inspiration from the Indian sherwani coat, a formal garment worn by nobles dating back to the Delhi Sultanate, a Muslim kingdom and the Mughal Empire, which ruled most of India and Pakistan in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Like the kefta, the sherwani was often embellished with embroidery details on the front and back of the coat, and by the late 18th century, the coat was adopted as the traditional dress of the common man and, today, is still used in India and Pakistan as wedding attire and for formal occasions.
Here is also an example of an Eastern influence – British uniform from 1913. The officers of the irregular cavalry wore loose-fitting Indian dress rather than the European uniforms of the regular cavalry.
According to Wendy Partridge, the wardrobe team made 250 individual keftas in all. She said, “By far, the biggest challenge was the keftas because there were so many of them”.
In the books, the keftas are made from an exceptionally strong and flexible fabric called “corecloth” that can withstand bullets.
Wendy Partridge said, “I came up with this really delicious thorny print that we printed on all the fabrics before they were embroidered, and that was the Grisha-made bulletproofing for our story”.
All of the thorn printing was done in India.
Wendy Partridge said of the hand-stitched bullion embroidery on all of the keftas, “Because it kind of takes place in the 1870s, looking up embroideries at the time to see what that was like, everything was very curly, very soft, everything came around and in circles, it just felt like it was very happy. I didn't want that to be the style for the keftas because these were military uniforms, they were depicting specific talents, this wasn't a frivolous ornamentation”.
She said, “The embroidery took on an almost graffiti-esque quality, very gnarly and pointy and modern, and that was very intentional”.
We don't know if we've ever seen a show with quite so much embroidery in it.
Color palette of Grisha costumes
Each sub-order of Grisha has its own unique embroidery color. Let's try and break it down.
General Kirigan, a commander of the Second Army and a Shadow Summoner, wears a kefta with black on black bullion embroidery.
Under his kefta, the Darkling wears a black leather jacket and black trousers. Only the Darkling is permitted to wear the color black. Although at the winter fete, Alina wears a black kefta heavily covered in gold embroidery.
Wendy Partridge said, “The knife-inspired embroidery on Kirigan's kefta represents his ability to perform “the Cut”; Alina has sunblast embroidery reflective of her Sun-Summoning powers”.
In a wonderful juxtaposition to the Darkling’s costume, is Alina's finale costume – her sun-gold kefta is made of gold silk and is heavily embroidered with black bullion embroidery. It's essentially her black kefta in reverse.
To accommodate her horns, the neckline is open.
The Corporalki Order wears the crimson keftas. The Heartrenders have black embroidery, as we see on Fedyor and Ivan, gray embroidery for the Healers, and dark-blue for the Tailors.
The Etherealki Order wear blue keftas. The Timemakers have pale-blue embroidery, the Inferni have red and yellow embroidery, as seen by Marie and the twins Pavel and Polina.
In the books, the embroidery was read, but Wendy Partridge said – and we’re paraphrasing here – that the combination of blue and red from the books wouldn't translate well to the screen.
The Squallers have silver embroidery, as seen worn by Nadia and Zoya.
The only one to wear gold contrasting embroidery is Alina Starkov, the Sun Summoner.
And finally, the Materialki Order dress in purple keftas.
Fabricator David wears the gray embroidery of the Durasts, while Alkemi has red embroidery.
And the servants of the Grand Palace dress in white or off-white keftas with gold embroidery. Most notably, Genya, the Queen's Tailor.
Within the Second Army, are the Oprichniki, the elite soldiers culled from the First Army who make up the Darkling’s personal guard. In the book, Alina Starkov describes their uniform as charcoal colored.
Show costumes of the royals
The winter fete is held at the Grand Palace toward the end of the winter season.
While the non-military noble costumes for the court are 1870s roughly, the Ravkin royal family themselves appear to be inspired – likely in both the book and show – by the tsar of Russia Emperor Alexander II, his wife Empress Maria, and their son the future Alexander III.
In the show, King Fedyor and his son Vasily are in solid cream coats and trousers tucked into boots. Both of their jackets are trimmed in gold braid with gold French epaulettes, like we see in the photos of Alexander II, and are fully decorated with sashes with accents of blue and gold, along with medals.
The King wears a livery of gold or chain of order around his neck, and, as mentioned earlier, the Ravkin sigil is blue and gold, which ties into their color palette.
Queen Tatiana’s golden blue brocade gown coordinate with her husband and son. And with the hanging sleeves, the silhouette of her gown is similar to this exquisite black, cream, and gold Russian court robe from 1900.
The royal family and noblemen in the scene wear white gloves, which would have been customary in the late 19th century for formal wear. The noblemen are dressed in white tie and tails, while the noble ladies are dressed in bustle-style gowns with opera-length gowns, popular in the 1870s.
The Crows’ costumes
The Crows are another storyline. This storyline is its own thing because it's based upon the Six of Crows duology. And while it's in the same Universe, the events of the book happen after the events of the Grisha trilogy. It's still in the realm of the 1870s but a grittier, steampunk style.
Apparently, Ketterdam is based upon Amsterdam of the 17th and 18th centuries, but as it's depicted in the show, it feels like it's sort of late Victorian England. Perhaps this is because Wendy Partridge was born there.
The Crow team occasionally has to don a series of disguises while they're on their mission.
Inej, being Suli, doesn't quite fit into the style of Ketterdam, as her costume is a sort of South Asian inspired assassin-style, with her asymmetrical coat with loads of buckles and some contemporary elements, like her high-waisted leather pants.
Her underblouse show some of the Asian influences, with the delicate embroidery on the sleeves.
Her vest accommodates her numerous daggers and, according to Elite Daily, Inej’s 14 knives were sized down to fit into the costume.
Jesper is full-on Victorian in a wool fitted sack suit with a windowpane motif worn with a greatcoat and short wool topper.
He also wears a necktie, at times a cravat, with a standard or wing collar and waistcoat.
And he always wears his jacket caller up – it's his signature style.
He also had some added flair with a signet ring and pocket poof in his jacket. He is the ultimate in style.
Kaz's costume, meanwhile, is equally impressive. He's wearing a suit consisting of a frock coat, brocade waistcoat, and trousers. The frock coat is bound with leather detail on the collar and at times, he wears a wool greatcoat.
His leather gloves are embroidered on the top with a crow feather pattern.
His cane has the head of a crow with a diamond eye, and his hat is a felt homburg.
Elite Daily reported that when Shadow And Bone wrapped, after Freddy Carter, who plays Kaz, took home his gloves and cane, but they will have to ask him to bring them back since the show has been renewed for a second season.
Costume designer Wendy Partridge is set to return.