Interview with Moonlight Costume Designer Salvador Perez
Let’s face it: when you think vampires, you probably have a pretty stereotypical notion of their wardrobes. Long capes, velvet gowns, satin smoking jackets, all in shades of deepest black and bloodiest red. But as Buffy might say, “That is so five minutes ago.”
Enter Moonlight, the new vampire drama on CBS. These vamps are still dark and brooding, but they do it in style. Costume designer Salvador Perez makes sure of that. “I want them to be fashionistas,” he says. “They are old, I assume they would have accumulated money over the years.” To achieve this, Salvador dresses his cast in a mix of top designer labels and custom-made pieces.
Show lead Mick, played by Alex O’Loughlin, is dressed in what Sal likes to call “glam goth.” “Mick doesn’t look good in crew-neck shirts,” Salvador says, “so he is always in collard shirts and henleys. He’s a vampire – it’s always about the neck.”
Josef, played by Jason Dohring, is one of the oldest vampires on the show. Because of that, Salvador makes sure he is always richly dressed in labels such as Prada and Versace. “He’s an old-world vampire with a modern feel and a sense of luxury.”
Coraline, played by Shannyn Sossamon, is another old-time vampire. “She is always in a custom gown. Always,” Salvador tells us. “Coraline is a diva, so she needs a glamorous wardrobe, full of couture.”
Sophia Myles’s character, Beth, is the only lead who is not a vampire. The human characters should be differentiated in some way. “It’s a dark show,” says Salvador. “We don’t use a lot of ‘happy’ colors. With Beth we try to add in some brighter colors, like pink, but always tone it down by, say, throwing a black coat over it.”
But it’s not all modernizing the vampire. “Since they have been around so long, we get to do flashbacks into all different eras.” For example, in a 1950s party, Salvador wanted Coraline to stand out. “All the men were in classic tuxedos and the women were in pastel gowns. So I dressed Coraline in red.” Salvador also enjoys these period pieces because it allows him a great opportunity to get back to basics and work on the actual construction of the pieces. “I started as a stitcher. So many wardrobe designers can’t sew on a button. Anything I ask of my team, I can also do.” Like with getting dressed in any outfit, wardrobe should start with a good foundation.
One of the biggest challenges for Salvador is watching his beautiful clothing get destroyed during action scenes. “It’s painful,” he admits. “The characters are always getting shot, getting into fights, getting bloody, so the clothing frequently gets ruined. We don’t get to repeat clothing a lot.” But it’s worth it. “It’s a great cast, they are fun to dress. They all wear clothing beautifully.”
Moonlight airs Friday nights at 9:00 p.m. on CBS