Contains mild spoilers
Part of the magic of Stranger Things has always been the meticulous attention to the set and costume design, which brings Hawkins to life. It gets the balance between nostalgia and authenticity just right, allowing audiences of all ages to feel immersed into the 80s. Season four ventures outside of Hawkins, giving costume designer Amy Parris an opportunity to cater the outfits to each different location, as well as the individual journeys of the characters. Here are some top picks from season four, with details selected from GQ’s interview with Amy Parris:
Jim Hopper/ Russia:
The scenes in Russia are really defined by the utilitarian monotony of the prisoners and guards’ uniforms. Every shot is filled with dull greys, dusky blues and military greens, perfectly encapsulating the sombre constraint under soviet domination. The prison uniforms are some of the technically challenging pieces from the show, requiring Parris’ team to make them, and then distress the fabric to make it look like they were well-worn, dirty and muted in colour, as if they had been worn for decades. When placed alongside authentic pieces, the overall effect is enthralling.
Eddie’s character was brought to life by the attention to detail in his outfits, with each layer bringing different textures and edge to a heavy-metal-loving young adult. Key elements to his look include the classic Hellfire Club ringer tee (inspired by D&D clubs), a thinner leather jacket layered with a vintage Levi’s denim trucker vest, which is embroidered with a Dio t-shirt that has been patched onto the back panel of the vest. Other detailing comes from a handcuff belt buckle, silver hardware, and vintage pins and patches of 80s metal bands (including Metallica, Iron Maiden and Wasp). The final component of his outfit is the skull handkerchief which takes him from everyday wear, into battle.
Each season of Stranger Things has brought the most character development for Eleven, season four being no different as we see her settling into Californian life with the Byers. Parris wanted her clothes to “make her feel mismatched because she’s trying to figure out who she is”, allowing for lots of variation in her outfits. Her style is formed on hand-me-downs from the Byers, as well as remnants from her time with Hopper/ shopping with Max. Much like the added dirt on the Russian prison uniforms, staining was added to the milkshake dress and the blooded hospital gown by throwing actual milkshake onto the dress, and dragging Parris through fake blood patches, in order to create an authentic staining on the outfits. Replicas were then painted for stunt doubles.
The Duffer Brothers knew that perfecting Vecna was crucial to the nostalgic horror of season four. In conversation with Vanity Fair, makeup designer and visual effects artist Barrie Gower breaks down the extensive process of creating Vecna’s costume. It is formed from 25 overlapping ‘prosthetics’ to allow Vecna to move around naturally without the buckling of a full body suit, taking around 8.5 hours to apply each time. Most impressively, the final product is around 90% practical effects, with VFX only used for finishing touches.
Watch GQ’s in-depth rundown of the costume details with Amy Parris here:
Watch Vanity Fair’s interview with Barrie Gower on the SFX’s here: