One of the most distinctive features of Money Heist is its iconography, or, as creator Álex Pina calls it, "El look del show." From the Dalí masks to the red jumpsuits the band and hostages wear, the designers sought to introduce striking visual elements that would make the series immediately recognizable.
The idea for the jumpsuits was originally Pina's, though they evolved and became more contoured in later seasons. In all, some 500 suits were made, most in Italy by fashion line Diesel.
Each actor had at least eight, according to costume designer Carlos Díez, because the flashbacks required original costumes that showed dirt, oil or blood from earlier scenes. The Dalí mask, depicting the quintessentially Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, was another stroke of inspiration. Reflecting the artist's lifelong defiance of convention, the fixed expression is neither menacing nor friendly, but rather conveys removed curiosity.
The iconography extends to set design, too; red was used not just as a color accent, but often as the only color in a scene, against a grey or dark background. Other colors were forbidden on set. The effect is to draw the viewer's eye immediately to the red telephone, the red lighter, the red carpet on the staircase, the red banners on the railings. Red is the color of passion and of warning, but also the color of revolution.
And if there can be a musical component to iconography, the infectious Italian Resistance song "Bella Ciao" is it. This sad but rousing call to arms has become a protest anthem around the world. In the darkest days of the pandemic, it was sung on the streets of Italy in salute to healthcare workers.
Jesús Colmenar, director and executive producer, says, "I believe the iconography was one of the reasons, if not the most important reason, for Money Heist's international success. People need symbols."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 10, 2021
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