I had the chance to talk with Eduardo Castro, the Emmy-nominated costume designer for Once Upon a Time, and the person behind some of those amazing, beautiful, and crazy costumes we have seen on characters ranging from Rumplestiltskin to Snow White. Castro, the winner of a Costume Designers Guild Award, talked about a range of topics, from the pilot to what to expect for the rest of the season.
Music In the Dark: Red has been very present throughout the show, with Emma in the red dress in the opening shot of the pilot, and then the red leather jacket, and Charming’s red leather. What made you choose to use that color as the sort of signature color?
Eduardo Castro: The color red was chosen only the day before we shot the pilot for Emma’s jacket. Originally it was black. It was the producers who requested red after a camera test. As far a Charming was concerned, that was just a logical choice. Besides, I love red.
MItD: Leather is also a huge part of the costumes, and not a fabric usually associated with fairy tales, with Hook’s black leather, and the many varied leather jackets that Emma wears. Do you design and create the leather looks or buy them? What is the process for that in creating a leather look?
Castro: The original Emma jacket was a purchase for about $99.00. We made more beautiful ones after the pilot and they were around the $3,000.00 range. She will end the series [current storyline] in a newer version of the classic red jacket.
MItD: Which storyline has been your favorite to create the costumes for? The most challenging? Emma’s “Dark Swan” costumes have been my favorite.
Castro: The pilot was my favorite. It sparkled and everything worked, even though I did it in four weeks, including 450 extras at Snow’s wedding. We also established all the principles in Fairy Tale Land, all custom made and all worked out beautifully. I personally hated the “Black Swan” series, it was hard to create and took many prototypes to get in on camera, but in the end not one of my favorites.
MItD: How much do you collaborate with hair and makeup when creating the looks? For Rumple in particular, his makeup goes with his costume so well, and Snow and Regina have the hairstyle distinctions between past and present.
Castro: We try to collaborate with hair and make up. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. Hair has been a particular challenge and I am very rarely happy with the end results, mostly because everything is done so fast.
MItD: How long does it generally take from first developing the concept for a costume to it being picture ready? What does the process consist of?
Castro: If I am lucky I may have two weeks, but usually we only have about eight days, so every thing is done super fast. Fabrics are a problem in Vancouver, and so many of the fabrics have to be sent in from Los Angeles. We can do an Evil Queen [look] in about four to five days, depending on how elaborate, we have an amazing workroom that works with me and we have a very good short hand. So many times, there is no time for a sketch. Currently I am in LA and I am collaborating with my costume maker about a corset and skirt for [the] Evil Queen, plus three sets of Fairies, plus a Wedding I have to deal with as well. Experience is key in my position as well as confidence that your first choice will work!!!
MItD: Which character is your favorite to create for? What is your favorite costume so far?
Castro: My favorite costume always has been Rumplestiltskin, [the] original costume made of real baby crocodiles and Italian leather. My second favorite has to be Captain Hook.
MItD: Do you have much collaboration from the actors when creating their costumes, particularly for storylines that are big changes from their characters normal looks? (Emma’s date with Hook, Dark Swan, the finale of season 4 with Evil Snow, the Wish Realm, etc).
Castro: I always communicate with the actors. Jennifer Morrison, in particular, is very specific on what she likes and we collaborate on a lot of her modern clothes. Her date dress was custom made as well as several of her leather jackets and wool coats. Lana and I always talk about the costumes. I do like to collaborate with all of the actors, it’s part of the job.
MItD: Can you give any teases about any looks coming up in the second half of the season? There is a drawing of “Hook as Boozer” that has been posted online, which is intriguing and has started a lot of conversation among fans, particularly the “Captain Swan” fans.
Castro: I thought that the “Boozey Hook” costume had already been seen but I guess it has not. It is a future look at Hook in a fantasy scene. The rest of the season is mostly much the same as has been, with a musical episode we are working on that will be almost the end of the series. That is all I can say for now.
MItD: Thank you! It’s really interesting to hear the thoughts behind the costumes, particularly what you see as your successes and failures. I just wanted to clarify that the musical episode is this season? You said it will be almost the end of the series, so I wasn’t sure if you were using the words series/season interchangeably or if everybody is operating under the assumption of renewal.
Castro: The basic story line of Once will be completed this season. Whether there is a continuation with some of the cast is still under consideration, and the musical will be in the third to the last episode this season.
MItD: Thanks again!
Published on Music In the Dark/March 2016