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September 30, 2014

Spotlight: Costume Designer Christine Bean

Thanks to Television Academy member Christine Bean, costume designer for The Blacklist, Raymond “Red” Reddington (played by esteemed actor James Spader) wears suits and chapeaus which have amassed a fanbase all their own. 

Mekeisha Madden Toby
  • Christine Bean, costume designer for The Blacklist.

    Christine Bean, costume designer for The Blacklist, at this year's Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition in downtown Los Angeles.

One of the things fans love about NBC’s espionage drama The Blacklist is the way the show’s antihero, Raymond “Red” Reddington dresses.

Played by acclaimed actor James Spader, Red sports a natty, custom-made wardrobe that includes impeccable three-piece suits and a trademark fedora in every installment.

As a result, Red is fun to watch not only because of the way he takes down rival criminal masterminds and informs and eludes the authorities, but also because of the way he looks when he’s doing it.

None of these signature sartorial triumphs would be possible without the deft eyes and hands of Christine Bean, the costume designer behind the beloved series, which just kicked off its second season.

Before The Blacklist, the New York-based Bean worked on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters and NBC’s Smash as well as several blockbusters and independent films. Additional credits include Richard’s Wedding, The Dark Knight Rises and Arbitage.

TelevisionAcademy.com spoke with Bean for this edition of Spotlight at this year's Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition, held at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum & Galleries, about work and family. 

• • •

What are some of the aspects you like about working on television versus, say, an independent film?

Television allows the designer to get to know the cast, and build their characters over the course of a season, rather than in film where it can be such a fast process.

Some of the more interesting opportunities that have come my way recently have been in television.

While some of us creatives who have gravitated to this industry love the excitement of going from one short project to the next, or away on distant locations, I feel really lucky to be costume designing at home in NYC on a show that gives me tremendous creative challenges. 


What inspires your costuming choices for Red Reddington on The Blacklist?

Mostly I am inspired by the various international destinations that the show takes Reddington.

Locations in season two take us everywhere from Poland and the Congo to Coney Island, so I love to figure out the climates and time of year, and what Reddington would choose to wear to these places.

I was surprised when The Blacklist started airing in season one by the public interest in the wardrobe of Raymond “Red” Reddington.

I get daily emails from viewers asking where they can get his clothes and hats. His wardrobe lends to a worldly, iconic, and timeless sense of style that I am sure many men today would like to replicate in their lives.

With so many shows on TV featuring well-dressed women in store bought clothes, I am incredibly lucky to get to build Reddington's wardrobe from swatch to finished product. 
 

Are there any celebrity icons that inspire Red’s wardrobe? And are his tastes old fashioned or contemporary?

From the very beginning of the series I was always inspired by Steve McQueen as a wardrobe inspiration for Reddington. Rugged but impeccably well dressed. And I would say Red definitely has a classic wardrobe.

We use modern fabrics and contemporary tailoring, but the silhouette is timeless. 
 

Some of your costuming work from The Blacklist was featured at this year's Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising's Museum & Galleries in downtown Los Angeles. What inspired your involvement? 

When I was asked if I would be interested in participating, I was so excited because I went to FIDM. And I used to sneak into these when I was young!  

So I thought that would be fantastic, that I’ll be invited and I’ll have clothes in the exhibit so I won’t have to sneak in! 


Do the kind of hours you have to spend working on production interfere with family time?

Well, yeah, it does. At times it does. But he [husband, Kirk Wilson] works long hours, too. So at the end of the day, luckily my show takes place in New York and I live in New York. So I get to go home and I’m not on location. 


When you want a day off from work, where do you go? What might you be doing?

At home in our backyard in Brooklyn. And I’d be gardening!

 

 

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