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'Daredevil': Costume designer talks creating Elektra's non-midriff-baring, utilitarian look

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Patrick Harbron/Netflix

Creating the small-screen version of an iconic comic-book character’s equally iconic outfit isn’t easy — especially when it comes to Elektra (Elodie Yung), whose print outfit consists of lots of impractically strappy red cloth. So for costume designer Lorraine Calvert, who joined Daredevil in season 2, transforming that look into something more durable and realistic meant starting from scratch. 

Calvert tells EW nailing Elektra’s costume required juggling three key qualities: It had to be utilitarian, faithful in some way to the comics, and most of all, it had to be appealing. “There are a lot of people invested in this character,” Calvert says. “You have to be truthful to the actress and truthful to the audience. So that was a long process.” 

Here, Calvert breaks down Elektra’s fighting costume (as seen in the image below): 

Netflix

THE CONCEPT

Originally, Calvert and her team didn’t think about pursuing a sleek look. “Ideas were tossed around about how she was possibly bohemian, [because] she was a free spirit who traveled all over the world with as much money as she possibly could,” Calvert says. “And then it got a little more spare … She really needs a very simple, elegant line because too much cloth is overwhelming.” With that in mind, the design shifted into using stark pieces for both Elektra’s daytime outfits and her fighting costume. “You have to know that she could kick ass,” Calvert adds with a laugh, “as opposed to the bikini that was in the comic books.” (And the film.)

THE PIECES

Finding the right pieces look less time than Calvert anticipated. It was “unbelievably painless,” she says, to track down a pair of black moto pants, a one-piece zippered body suit, a sleeveless vest, and red cloth to provide the highlights and the hood covering Elektra’s face. When it came time for Yung to don the outfit, the only issues were the hood and the leather leggings: For the former, Calvert says the fabric failed to stay on Yung’s face, so she inserted elastic on the sides and used a less stretchy fabric to keep it from bunching up on Yung’s neck or looking “silly.” As for the leather wrappings around the pants, Calvert says they originally intended them to look like what the Yakuza members wear later in season 2, but “when they sent them from the costume house, they were zippered and really bulky, and they were hurting [Elodie].” Instead, “we came up with a plan to put a black piece of elastic on the back of her knee,” she explains. “It worked beautifully.” 

THE COLOR

The small-screen Elektra may only wear hints of red (as opposed to her comic-book counterpart’s completely red costume), but Calvert says they were careful to choose the exact shade. For one thing, the red couldn’t look too similar to what Charlie Cox wears as Daredevil. For another, they needed the shade to match the dark tone of the series. With that in mind, Marvel Television creative director Joshua James Shaw and comics editor Joe Quesada chose a red that, as Calvert puts it, “is not as bright [as it is in the comics]. It’s not orange-y, yellow-y, or red. It’s got more blue in it.”

THE FINAL COSTUME

If you haven’t reached the end of the season, watch the tease above to get a sneak peek at Elektra’s final outfit. It’s still not full red, but Calvert made sure the fabric was thinner than Daredevil’s “in order to be more fluid.” In addition, she added more leather to the arms and leg wraps and discarded the original idea to have Yung wear the same shoes as the Yakuza ninjas; instead, she tracked down a pair of boots that would blend in with the leather and allow Yung and her stunt double freedom of movement. Plus, they simply looked great. “You just want your leading lady to look as beautiful as possible and powerful and sexy,” Calvert says, “and not in any way awkward.” 

A NEW DAREDEVIL …?

For the fans who aren’t into Daredevil’s final red suit, Calvert promises they tweaked it from episode 4 onward. It becomes, she says, “a much more fluid suit and much more tactical in a way.” There’s less material on the gauntlets and the boots, she says, which makes it less stiff for actor Charlie Cox and stuntmen. “It’s much more streamlined,” she adds. “It still looks the same because it has the deep burgundy, but we made it simpler.” After all, the devil’s in the details when it comes to this particular superhero show. 

Daredevil season 2 is streaming on Netflix. (For more on the drama, EW’s binge guide can be found here.)

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