The Maniacal Costume Designer Behind ‘The Masked Singer’ Speaks

Taylor Swift. Katy Perry. Ariana Grande. Monster. Unicorn. Rabbit.

These are just some of the brass-hat stars who’ve been draped within the fabulous threads of Emmy Award-winning costume designer Marina Toybina. If in case you have a tough time recognizing a number of the aforementioned performers, you clearly aren’t watching the pageant of semiotics that’s “The Masked Singer.” Through which case, actually, disgrace on you. 

Primarily based on successful South Korean collection, the mildly terrifying but completely addicting singing competitors on Fox incorporates a dozen celebrities ― greatest described as individuals you don’t completely not care about ― disguised in full-body interspecies garb. Every week the varied Geryons converge to carry out pop songs earlier than a studio viewers and a famous-person panel as we lowly viewers at dwelling rack our brains to find out who the courageous souls beneath the fits are. One after the other, the masked singers are voted off, and solely then are their identities revealed. 

The true stars of this present, nonetheless, are neither the respectfully has-been contestants nor the just-about-to-be-has-been panel of judges. No, the true scene stealers are the complete physique enclosures that remodel their wearers into creatures half Chuck E. Cheese, half high fashion, half an excessive amount of Ambien. 

We now have Toybina to thank (or curse) for these unforgettable additions to our shared cultural creativeness. (Actually, irrespective of how arduous you strive, you’ll always remember that red-eyed Rabbit in a straight jacket when you’ve glimpsed it.) She spoke to HuffPost about creating essentially the most delightfully deranged getups to ever grace American tv.

How did you become involved with the present?

I acquired a name from an govt producer they usually despatched me a hyperlink to the South Korean model of the present. It’s one thing so distinctive and completely different from something I’d accomplished on tv.

What did you consider the South Korean model? 

I liked it. I’ve designed for lots of stage performances and dance TV reveals, so it was proper up my alley. Seeing how excessive the Korean model was, I needed to take it to the subsequent degree.

The Monster (who devoted fans are convinced is T-Pain) rocks out with his body fully covered up.


The Monster (who devoted followers are satisfied is T-Ache) rocks out together with his physique absolutely coated up.

The costumes for this present are subsequent degree, dazzling and typically terrifying. What was your imaginative and prescient going into this, so far as the general aesthetic of the present?

I needed to do one thing we’re not used to seeing in a actuality competitors. I had a lot artistic freedom from the community to create this world. They allowed me to sketch my concepts and current completely different characters, and from there we had been ready to decide on the 12.

What had been a number of the characters that didn’t make the minimize?

I can’t say, in case we do one other season.

What had been a few of your influences when first dreaming up these creatures? 

There have been a whole lot of cinematic influences, just like the Rabbit could be very a lot impressed by Donnie Darko. And I’m an enormous fan of the film “The Crow” ― that’s the place the Raven got here from. The best way we constructed the costumes with the handwork that went into them actually channeled the intricacy of Alexander McQueen, the architectural world of trend design.

To me, the present’s look appears rooted in rave, steampunk and music pageant tradition. Had been these cultural actions in your thoughts?

Completely. We needed every costume to mix parts of sunshine and darkish, harsh and delicate. With the Deer, there are a whole lot of steampunk parts; every part was distressed. That was a option to age the costume and create this ancestral world, every part being distressed. The best way we constructed the costumes was like what I might do for a musician on tour. We mixed components of various genres of glitzy live shows.

Did you might have any guidelines in any respect getting into? Like, cowl up the whole movie star inside? 

We needed to do full protection, as to not reveal any physique components or any pores and skin components. That was the one word I acquired so far as pointers. 

Did you try to throw individuals off by obfuscating the celebrities’ bodily kinds with the costumes? Like making somebody seem taller or greater than they are surely?

Truthfully, that was not even my thought course of. Within the masks, these individuals change into one thing completely different, they change into the world they’re carrying. I wasn’t so eager on making it that discreet. We needed to create a cushty world for them. The hiding turned extra in regards to the masks than the complete costume. The remaining is in regards to the theatrical really feel.

Had been the contestants concerned in selecting their very own animals?

We began creating the mockups earlier than the complete casting was full. As we had been creating them, we had been discovering out who could be every character. It was a step-by-step scenario.

So viewers making an attempt to determine celebrities by the animals representing them can be barking up the improper tree?

It went each methods. There have been a couple of contestants who signed on early who needed to decide on their very own animals. And there have been some who got here on later who we guided, considering they might be good for a sure costume. Nothing was ever proposed out of the realm of who they needed to be or how they needed to carry out. Wanting again on it, anyone on the present being one thing else wouldn’t have labored.

Are there clues embedded inside the costumes in regards to the stars’ identities? Was there one thing Margaret Cho-y about that poodle?

Probably not. There could be a couple of little issues when you actually concentrate. However many of the clues are within the promo packages. 

Can I ask you a few costume-related conspiracy I learn on-line?

On Reddit, a fan theorized that the Rabbit is Joey Fatone, which appears very probably, and that his straight jacket is an allusion to his video “I Drive Myself Loopy.”

I wouldn’t even suppose that! The conspiracies are fairly unbelievable. That costume was absolutely impressed by making a cool character that’s the alternative of what individuals suppose a rabbit can be. Most individuals suppose rabbits are fluffy and cute, just like the Easter Bunny. I needed one thing slightly bit uncomfortable however on the identical time tremendous cool. Somewhat bit Tim Burton, slightly bit Donnie Darko.

Are you able to please stroll me by the making of the Unicorn as a result of, my God, she is wonderful. 

Unicorns typically are such ethereal creatures. I made certain every part was full-on white, sort of like a snow queen. This lovely feminine presence, with slightly little bit of a Narnia affect. Lots of the costume was impressed by runway trend. The whole factor was accomplished by hand, head to toe. The draping and the handwork had been all accomplished the old-fashioned method.

What was the funds for costumes general?

We had been in place. I feel one of the vital vital issues to me was that the community understood we wanted to get the standard we needed to supply. I used to be absolutely supported by the community.

Any estimate? I’m so curious. 

I’ll skip this one. 

How many individuals labored on developing the costumes and round how lengthy did it take?

It took me about three weeks to sketch the completely different characters and some days to decide on them. The mockups began taking place proper after. It took slightly over two months to construct the costumes and get them prepared for fittings. About 20 to 30 individuals had been a part of my workforce, working at three completely different venues.

Are the costumes washed between episodes?

We now have a wardrobe division, so the costumes are sanitized, cleaned and handled. And any indicators of damage and tear are mounted straight away. 

The contestants typically remark about how arduous it’s to sing and even see within the costumes. Have you ever personally donned the outfits? How do they really feel? 

I attempted on the vast majority of the masks. Once you put on a masks, every part begins to get blurry ― the imaginative and prescient, the sound. We needed to create these elaborate characters however have them in a position to carry out, sing and breathe. If the costume was cylindrical, just like the Monster or the Pineapple, we put vents in there so the individuals inside can breathe.

What in regards to the imaginative and prescient? How arduous is it to see?

We put mesh in there to allow them to see with out gifting away who’s contained in the masks. Once you’re contained in the masks, it’s tough. I’m pleased with our expertise who was in a position to carry by the performances.

Had been there any wardrobe malfunctions on set? 

As a result of the costumes had been handled so rigorously, there wasn’t something main. However little malfunctions occur. Like, we molded the horn of the Unicorn from blown glass. And at any time when she was below the warmth, it began to soften. Ultimately we realized the extra stage lighting we placed on the horn, the extra it melted. 

That’s hilarious. Every other tweaks you needed to make? 

There was one other one within the very starting with the Monster. He has one eye that may be a centerpiece. As a result of it’s plastic, the extra he breathed contained in the costume, the extra it fogged up, so finally he couldn’t see something. We had to determine learn how to open up the vent so the oxygen might have an exit out of the costume.

What occurs to a dressing up after a star will get unmasked? 

Proper now, the community has all of the costumes, and they’re getting used for promos. I’m undecided what’s going to occur after. It could be good to see them in a museum, just like the FIDM [Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising] costume museum. Particularly the Lion masks.

Are you stunned by the cult fandom the present has garnered?

So overwhelmed! There are some moments I drive across the metropolis and see all of the billboards and don’t know what’s happening. I’ve been a designer for some time now and this is the primary time costumes are being acknowledged because the centerpiece of a present. I’m completely satisfied to see how a lot individuals are having fun with them. I’ve seen some critiques which might be nice, some that aren’t so nice. However even these, it’s good that individuals are watching.

Have you ever seen any response, particularly, from the furry neighborhood? 

I haven’t but. We did see some mockups for costumes from the present in Asia. There are some individuals which might be making an attempt to re-create them. I’m impressed and excited by what the followers are doing worldwide.