Behind the Costume Design of “Godzilla vs. Kong”

“Godzilla vs. Kong” naturally focuses on the mighty battle between the monsters, but costume designer Ann Foley also had a story to tell with her work.

Foley brought unique touches to dressing the human actors: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Kyle Chandler and Demián Bichir.

Foley mapped out how what the characters wear helps inform their stories, beginning with the script.

What was your approach to designing for the characters in “Godzilla vs. Kong”?

People were asking me, ‘What are you going to put Kong in?’ Yes, this is a movie about monsters, but with any film, I start with what’s in the script and breaking down these characters.

I’m trying to tell a story with the clothes and with the visuals about who these people are. We have Jia, Dr. Andrews and Nathan and their journey to save Kong. On the other side, you have Maddie and her journey to save Godzilla.

I was giving each of these characters fun stories with their clothes and what about them is so special and what can I do to move the story forward.

Maddie had her mission suit and that jacket. I gave the jacket a backstory that it belonged to her mother. She’s picking up where her mother left off after “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” And that was a little Easter egg that might not make it across immediately, but it’s there.

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What was the story with Jia’s (Kaylee Hottle) outfit and reflecting that she is part of Kong-worshipping Iwi tribe?

She is one of the most wonderful, interesting and incredible characters in the film. I wanted her costume to represent and celebrate her Iwi heritage. The last time we saw that was in the ‘70s in “Kong: Skull Island.” Now we’re in the present and Monarch has been on the island, there was a more contemporary influence in her clothing such as her sneakers, her pants, her t-shirt and her jacket.

I gave her an Iwi wrap and it’s a direct link to her heritage, with the Iwi writing. What’s so great about the wrap is that it serves so many purposes. It can disguise her, protect her from the elements and she can use it as a blanket.

With her necklace, I had a conversation with director Adam Wingard about basing it on skull properties. He loved the idea.

But it is based on the wraps established in “Kong: Skull Island.” With her necklace, I had a conversation with Adam Wingard, the director, he loved this idea. So I came up with the idea of making it out of Skullcrawlers teeth that she had gathered on the island. Skullcrawlers (giant two-legged reptiles) had killed her family and that’s why she’s an orphan. To me, that necklace was a talisman that gave her this protection from the dangers of her past and empowered her.

I worked with Ironhead studios to create the mold. They were made from something soft that wouldn’t scratch her.

Can you talk about the use of red in the film?

Again, Adam was on board with this. We removed red from the film and we used it specifically. The only characters that wear red in the film are the characters who have a connection to the Titans. Jia has it on her wrap. Maddie (Brown) has it on her shirts and she wears it in the beginning, and we used it really specifically. It’s in her hair tie too. She always has red somewhere.

With Bree (Henry), there’s red in his name tag and the mission suit. They have a red base to them. We printed copper on top of the red ink, so when the suit moves, you see the flash of red and it changes depending on how light hits.

What did you want to do with Alexander Skarsgård and his character?

He was so much fun and we had such a great time because he brought some really fun ideas to the table. We started conceptualizing the character and Alex wanted to do something a little different; he wanted to have a little bit more fun.

He came up with the idea of having his character be this fan of ‘80s movies so we paid homage to “Lethal Weapon” and “Back to the Future.”

His vest is very much inspired by Marty McFly. I bought the base and we modified it. We aged it down because I wanted it to feel like he had had it since the ‘80s. Even with his sneakers, Adidas was kind enough to work with us on those high-top sneakers and track them down.

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What was it like working with Millie Bobby Brown and dressing her?

Our first fitting was like a whirlwind, but she was fun. She commented that she felt like Angelina Jolie and “Tomb Raider.” It’s always gratifying when an actor finds their character in a costume fitting.

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