Before costume designer Wendy Partridge met with “Shadow and Bone” creator Eric Heisserer about his Netflix series, she was unfamiliar with author Leigh Bardugo’s beloved fantasy series. But that quickly changed once she got hired, and Partridge says she found the source books enlightening because of how detailed Bardugo was in explaining the various costumes worn by the many characters.
“Leigh has brought so much texture about the clothing — particularly the keftas — in her books, that it was a wonderful jumping off point and really exciting to be involved in this amazing world that she created in her brain and allowed us to create it visually,” Partridge says in a new interview with Gold Derby.
Set in a fictional world where the nations of Ravka, Shu Han, and Fjerda are on the brink of strife, “Shadow and Bone” focuses on Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), a cartographer in the Ravkan army who discovers she’s a Grisha capable of summoning light. (A Grisha is “a person who can perform ‘small science.’”) That ability comes in handy as the Shadow Fold — described as “a region of impenetrable darkness that has stained the land for hundreds of years and split East and West Ravka” — poses a great risk to everyone, including Alina’s longtime friend, Mal (Archie Renaux), an orphan and Ravkan army soldier.
Bardugo first published “Shadow and Bone” in 2012 and her Grishaverse has greatly expanded in the decade since, with a trilogy of “Shadow and Bone” books and a duology of “Six of Crows” novels, among multiple novels. It’s those stories, however, that make up the plot of the Netflix series.
“One of the beauties of any time you’re doing a project of existing written matter is that it is in the imagination of the reader, it’s different,” she says. “It wouldn’t matter which fan you spoke to, they would have their heartfelt feeling of what they had conjured up in their brain. So it allowed me to be a reader and a fan … and bring all my experience to it.
“It was definitely a challenge because Leigh puts together some color combinations that one normally wouldn’t,” she adds. “Do you really want red wool and blue embroidery? In the book, it’s a lovely, graphic way of expressing all the disciples the Grisha have. But it was challenging. But it meant we got to manipulate it a little, we got to make it visually work. The one thing we wanted to do with ‘Shadow and Bone’ is create its own special world. Yes, it lives in approximately 1870; yes, it lives approximately in Russia-Prussia; yes, there are all these different ethnic groups that come into the show. But it needed to have its own flavor. If it was just a depiction of 1870s, it wouldn’t be Leigh’s vision, it wouldn’t be another world. That was delightful because it meant you weren’t squished into this parallel universe.”
On Monday, Netflix announced “Shadow and Bone” will return for a second season, news that delights Partridge. She says she already spoke to Heisserer about the potential that awaits them moving forward.
“He’s like, ‘More of season 1. Just keep it going!’” she says with a laugh. “More is more.”
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