‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Costumer on Reimagining Klingons in Season 2

Gersha Phillips Costume Designer
Dan Doperalski for Variety

For the first season of CBS All Access drama “Star Trek: Discovery,” costume designer Gersha Phillips had to set the visual tone for an era of Starfleet history that takes place roughly a decade before the franchise’s original series. For Season 2, Phillips faced a different challenge: She had to find a way to reimagine classic uniforms from the original series for a new audience. The newest installment of “Discovery” features the crew of the titular starship encountering not only original-series characters but also the denizens of Talos IV, a planet that looms large in “Star Trek” mythology.

What were the big challenges going into Season 2?

Introducing the Enterprise and remaking those costumes. Merging those two worlds together and then coming up with that costume, I’d say, was the biggest challenge off the top. Then the Klingons with no armor, with hair, coming up with what that should look like. And once we knew we were going to do the Talosians, that was another big thing.

What did you need to do to make sure that the costumes would feel modern but also true to the originals?

Right away when I knew we were going to do it, I thought the best thing to do was to use our style or cut of what we were doing for “Discovery” and then just re-interpret it in the Enterprise colors. Luckily for us, when we were prepping Season 1, we were playing with the gold and also I believe the red or the blue. One of those two colors we had in actually the same exact Pantone color that it is today, and one color we had to tweak. Then it was just a matter of figuring out how to do our compression panels, whether to do them on a different color. Then how to bring it down into the pants, whether to stay with the plain pants, what boots they should wear, how to show the rank on the boots, or if we needed to. All of those things we had to take into consideration.

What did you have to do differently with the Klingons?

The idea was that they were out of war — it was peace time — so they were able to grow their hair and they wanted something that looked less militaristic, less battle-ready.

What’s the most difficult thing about trying to show something that looks futuristic but also contemporary?

I spend so much time looking for things. I get inspired by this chain or that texture. Then I try to bring that into what we’re doing. Like the Talosians, for instance, we printed fabric with a texture to create something that I thought would look better than the original. The way we constructed it was also something that created a much more structural feel about them.