A television show with food that appears to be safe and delicious, poetic body sculptures, and costumes that excel at storytelling. All characteristics of Hannibal, a surprising midseason storytelling hit, has enthralled and quickly captured a large fan base. Christopher Hargadon, the costume designer marks Hannibal with distinct color palettes and refined details. The first season’s stellar costumes told a complex story. Hannibal Lecter, a multilayered character, with a refinement that is paramount and explicit in the costumes. Will Graham, just as complex, all wrapped in social anxieties and outdoorsy plaid. Both seemly different in design, there are subtle design clues and colors that tie them together. The first shot of Hannibal, he is wearing, what will soon be his uniform, a three-piece suit, a tie that is luxurious and silky, and accessorized with ornate pocket handkerchief. Hannibal the professional, showing very little his true colors on meeting Will for the first time.
On their first meeting Hannibal is casual and tan, lacking his usual refinement but still in his recognizable tailoring. Will wearing a faded green button down and Hannibal in tan, this is a strong costume moment. Within a television show that plays on saturated color, the lack of is important for costume storytelling. Hannibal is intelligent with a strong interest in Will, and his design and color play to that: mirroring, non-threaten tan, he is treading right under Will’s radar.
The mirroring continues between both characters, Will in his plaid shirts and earthy tones and Hannibal wearing tailored plaid suits that have notes of rich colors but always based in the natural. As a viewer the connection between the characters is no argument but it is wonderful to see this connection play out in the costumes. Hargadon has done a great job designing each character, both very distinct, with a uniform to each, and strongly connected at a detailed costume level. Color brings them together and plays a substantial role in the look of the show.
From Hannibal’s deep red wall to the saturated red of Abigail Hobbs sweater, the saturation of some colors draw the eye. Hannibal’s story in color starts off with lighter blues and cream, gentle colors that do not signify danger. As Will and Hannibal’s relationship becomes more and more intertwined, his colors shift, the suits are darker, the ties are richer in color, but the accessories are always present and classic.
The women of Hannibal are strong in color and rightly so, these women are self-assured, and know their path. Freddie Lounds is a great example of this, driven and confident, Freddie’s costumes are fashion forward with a touch of Freddie. Her coloring pops on screen when she is next to the mildly colored Will Graham. Christopher Hargadon has done a wonderful job, storytelling using color and design, it makes for exciting television. Do check out this interview from The Costume Designers Guild with Christopher Hargadon, he describes his take on Hannibal Lecter.
If you are also interested in what brands they are wearing and props on the show check out Wear the Rude