Apple TV’s Spirited is the latest re-telling of Dickens’ classic work, ‘A Christmas Carol’. One standout aspect of this musical, chaotic version of the story was Erin Benach’s incredible costumes. Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell brought their unique brand of chaos to this project, and looked amazing doing it.
I recently had a chance to speak with Spirited’s costume designer, Erin Benach. Benach’s recent credits include Birds of Prey, Drive, and A Star Is Born. I recently had the chance to speak to Benach about her vision for Spirited, and the process behind creating these festive costumes with an other-worldly twist.
Erin Benach spoke about how the vision for the costumes themselves evolved over time. “It was always a really interesting challenge to figure out the ghost world”, she said. “I knew from the beginning…[director] Sean Anders wanted to have some sort of uniform-like vibe and vision”. From there, she considered what kinds of uniforms ghosts would wear to perform their spiritual jobs.
As scripted, the iconic Santa suit was originally a GQ Santa. From there, Benach took that vision and ran with it. Of the suit, she says, “I think what we really want is for it to be really handsome…what every guy wants to wear”. She wanted to interpret this costume as something both festive and cool.
She also spoke about the ability to play with different eras, an ability afforded by the fact that the story itself moves fluidly through the Dickensian era before returning to the modern world. Benach said, “The ghost world comes from [that] Dickensian era”. She continued, “We were always taking cues from that [time period], whether it was ties around shirt colors, and [different] elements of that”.
In terms of the most challenging costume to design, Benach states that Ferrell’s green robe presented. She said, “Every time it went too modern…you didn’t connect it with the ghost of Christmas Present from A Christmas Carol”. From there, she balanced Dickensian feel that was meant to characterize Ferrell’s character, as well as trying to put a modern twist on the outfit. “We always had to keep it rooted”, she said.
Finally, Benach spoke about the necessity of colour flow when designing the costumes for Spirited. In terms of process, for the dance numbers, the cast completed a t-shirt run to determine how the dance would flow. There were three colours: green, copper, and red. At one time, she said, there was a serilian blue. This was changed however, after watching the dance numbers, and considering the fact that so much of the choreography came together in sets of three.
Benach was faced with a unique challenge in designing costumes for Spirited. The balance between past and present eras, in addition to the balance between living and ghostly realms, always had to come through in the costumes. There was clearly much thought put into how each costume brought out the best in the characters, and the story overall.
Spirited is available to stream on Apple TV+.