Deconstructing Dystopia

Costume designer Natalie Bronfman shares behind the scenes details of working on The Handmaid’s Tale and See

From the terrifying world of The Handmaid’s Tale Gilead to the dystopian reality of See, the 2020 Emmy nominated costume designer Natalie Bronfman conjures up unforgettable characters in dire circumstances. In particular, it is the white bonnet contrasting the vivid red cape which continues to be instantly recognizable with its contemporary significance during the #MeToo movement and a challenging presidential and political period for the United States of America. Protestors around the world dressed in The Handmaid’s Tale-inspired garments and demanded women’s rights and freedoms.

As the costume designer for The Handmaid’s Tale season three, Bronfman was in charge of creating memorable visuals while an uprising brewed in Gilead, marking the season as a true turning point for the Hulu show. On the AppleTV+ show See, Bronfman dives into a universe of characters grappling with the absence of sight due to a virus with creative inspiration and upcycling, first as the costume supervisor/assistant costume designer for S1 and S2 and then as costume designer in S3.

Natalie Bronfman’s original sketches of Edo’s armour for See. Image courtesy of Natalie Bronfman.

Maya Orbach: When did you first know you wanted to pursue costume design and whatinitially drew you to the profession?
MO: How challenging was it to continue the storyline in the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale from the work of Ane Crabtree?
MO: How did you incorporate Serena Joy and June Osborne's personalities and intentions with their costumes on the show?
MO: How collaborative was the process with the actors on creating the costumes they would wear to channel their character?
MO: Like The Handmaid’s Tale, See is also a dystopian show. What is it like creating costumes for individuals in altered, or imagined realities?
MO: Which historical figures or periods did you refer to for See?
MO: There’s an incredible number of hidden messages, different symbols and languages within the costumes. How did you decide which character would have those special details?
MO: What sort of departments comprise the See costume design team?
MO: What would you like for the audience of See to take from the visuality of the show?