*Caution: This article contains mild spoilers for Luke Cage season 2*
Stephanie Maslansky has a lot of experience when it comes to dressing superheroes. She’s the costume designer for the first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, The Defenders, and both seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. It is her vision that has created the iconic costumes, like Jessica’s leather jacket and Luke’s hoodie. We spoke to Maslansky about creating the look for Luke Cage season 2 and how the characters’ styles have changed. She also spilled about custom designing costumes, Mike Colter on social media, and Alfre Woodard’s sexy new look.
TMR: Some of my favorite parts of this season was D.W. (Jeremiah Craft) wearing and selling all the Luke Cage merch. It was a nice touch. I would definitely buy a Sweet Christmas hoodie.
Stephanie Maslansky: When we were developing the look of the show I said D.W. has to always be wearing one of these t-shirts, no matter what. Except for I think there was one scene where he went to a party so he had to get all prettified for that. Otherwise he was always in one of those t-shirts or one of those sweatshirts. I thought that was a kind of fun thing for him to do. Luke Cage influencer.
TMR: How do you go into season 2 as opposed to season 1? Is there anything you approached differently in the second season?
SM: The characters had evolved…Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is really out there as a hero now, as a guy who can do amazing things and he’s not being as humble about it…He still wears the Carhartt gear and he doesn’t suddenly become a slick dresser or anything-he still wanted to present as himself. But he wasn’t trying to hide in the shadows any more.
And then some of the other characters really evolved too- like Mariah (Alfre Woodard). I mean she really embraced her villainous ways and her queen of the night vibe. We custom made I’d say about 80% of her clothes. So we had a lot of fun designing them, choosing colors, choosing style. We were really able to strongly connect each design to whatever the situation was. And I think she really enjoyed it- actors love having clothes custom made for them number one- and it just helps them act that particular moment. And her character really evolves, not only did she embrace this new, badass being of herself, but also having this hot, sexy relationship with this younger guy. That always changes up the way a woman presents herself, I believe. And she embraced that fully and wanted to look and feel sexy. And that just became a real strong part of her persona. What I noticed is her acting differently. She was very seductive with Luke Cage and even Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) at times. She really used her womanly wiles and I hope that the clothing reflected that.
In that last night club scene (episode 13) everybody was dressed very specifically. At that point Misty (Simone Missick) had this extraordinary dress- we designed and built that dress- and it was built to highlight and showcase her arm, something she’d been hiding all season long. And then of course, Luke. It was a mustard colored three piece suit and we designed it and built it. It was custom made for him. And it sort of opens up, it portends to what’s may be going on in the next season. He’s now embraced a part of life as a superhero that he probably never expected to embrace which involves some dicey behavior and he’s dressing the part.
TMR: Speaking of dressing the part, I think Bushmaster’s costumes are fantastic. He’s such an interesting character. I really liked him as a villain this season.
SM: We had a lot of fun with him too. I think one of the reasons I love doing Luke Cage so much is that it’s just really an opportunity to show off for me as a designer. The characters, even though they’re grounded are fairly exaggerated. And of course there’s the opportunity to work with musicians and get involved and dress them in particular ways that are for the stage.
I just really enjoy working on Luke Cage. I also just really love the cast. The cast has so much soul. So much heart. We just adore them. I’ve been fortunate to become pretty close with Simone Missick who’s just an extraordinary woman. I love Mike Colter, he’s just such a good guy. In the last 6 or 8 months he’s really embraced social media. Here’s something about Mike Colter- he doesn’t shut up. For such a long time he was saying, ‘I’m not doing social media’ and then one day he decided he wanted or needed social media. And you can’t get the guy to shut up just like in real life! I love following him. Make sure when you print this you stress I love following him and I think he’s really funny, sharp, smart. And he has really important things to say. He’s not just full of blather. Really a great observer of the human condition.
Luke Cage seasons 1 & 2 are currently available to stream on Netflix.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.