‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Costume Designer Wants the Show’s Costumes to Be ‘Grounded in Truth’

The FX series What We Do in the Shadows follows a group of vampire roommates living in the modern world. With its deadpan humor and silliness, it makes sense that costume designer Laura Montgomery wants to keep things grounded throughout the FX series. Along with the production designer Kate Bunch, Montgomery creates the backdrop of this wild and spooky show.

Nandja and Laszlo hold each other in What We Do in the Shadows Season 4.
Natasia Demetriou as Nandja and Matt Berry as Laszlo in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ | Russ Martin/FX

‘What We Do in the Shadows’ is based on a movie by the same name

The FX series What We Do in the Shadows is based on a 2014 mockumentary film by the same name. The movie follows four vampire roommates living in a flat in modern-day Wellington. The vampires, Deacon, Viago, Vladislav, and Petyr grant a film crew access to their home to create a documentary.

The TV series follows a similar premise with a whole new crew of vampires. This time around, the roommates live in Staten Island, NY. The series expanded on the world from the movie, created by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. It introduced “energy vampires” such as Colin Robinson, who drain emotional energy rather than blood. The series also expounded upon the vampires’ feud with werewolves.

Laura Montgomery creates ‘grounded’ costume for the FX series

Costume designer Laura Montgomery joined the team to work on FX’s What We Do in the Shadows. “I was a big fan of the movie, so I was really excited to join the show,” Montgomery told Variety.

“I think the most important thing for me because it’s such a fantastical setting, is for the costumes to be grounded in truth. The tone of the show finds its humor in everyday things.” 

Each vampire has his or her own unique background as well, which Montgomery took into account while dressing the characters. Nandor the Relentless is over 750 years old and previously served as a soldier in the Ottoman Empire. Laszlo was an English nobleman and Nadja is a Romani vampire.

“The research is my absolute favorite part, and this show is great because you don’t have to be perfect about it. It starts with the conceit that you know these vampires kind of got stuck in the period in which they were human,” Montgomery told The Art of Costume.

Although the series is set in the modern-day, Montogomery is able to play around with pieces from many different eras. “We have the freedom to use elements from the 80s – they’ve lived through all the decades. We can say, oh, they picked up this piece when they were clubbing in the 90s, or they picked up something you know they’ve got all these collected pieces.”

The costumes of ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ change along with each character

According to Variety, the vampires at times can even be seen wearing a piece of clothing from their latest victims. Montgomery also adapts each character’s costumes as the seasons go on. Harvey Guillén’s character Guillermo de la Cruz in particular tells a story through the wardrobe. Guillermo, the human familiar, starts off the series in quite a few large sweaters, but transitions to a bolder look as the character grows more confident.

“[Laura Montgomery] and I talk about the color palette,” Guillén told Variety. “We talk about how my character’s clothes all started with earth tones and browns, and then we moved into small bits of teal.”

What We Do in the Shadows returns with new episodes on July 12.

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