After reading the scripts for the first two episodes of “The Queen’s Gambit,” costume designer Gabriele Binder dove into literature about chess to properly develop the wardrobe of protagonist Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy). Based on her research, she decided Beth’s outfits would steer clear of loud patterns, instead opting for simple checks or stripes.
“I thought during all this travel to different places and playing chess, she learns from the places, she watches people and she understands more about herself and she’s growing,” Binder explained in a video interview for Variety Artisans presented by HBO. “She’s growing from this kid in pinafore dresses to somebody who knows suddenly [about her] femininity.”
Binder also wanted to keep colors muted for Beth because with her strong red hair, wearing bright colors would have presented her as “someone who really wanted to say, ‘Wow, here I am,'” she said, which would have counteracted the chess prodigy’s determined nature.
However, green is central color in Beth’s storyline. Just after losing her mother in a car crash, she dons a sage dress — a hue that is then seen again in the handful of pills she consumes as a young girl. Later in Paris, which Binder described as her “weakest moment,” Beth dashes out of the hotel to a chess match wearing a light green dress. By the time she gets to Moscow, her “home color” evolves from a sign of weakness to a symbol of strength.
“For the last game, we have exactly the same color as in the beginning with the car crash and she’s finally arrived,” Binder said.
Watch the full interview above.