Back to Frank Black speaks to Thyrza Segal

As fans of Millennium we are always searching for information about the show that we previously didn’t know. During one such search we happened up the designs of Thyrza Segal, a designer who worked with Diane Widas, providing assistance and her considerable talents to the Costume Department on the three season’s of the show. We asked Thyrza’s permission to share her designs with you and if she would answer a few questions in the process. We are sure you will agree it’s always nice to take a look behind the scenes and meet the people who made ‘Millennium’ the show it was.

BACKTOFRANKBLACK.COM: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and for allowing us to share your designs with our supporters. Could I ask what guidelines were you given regarding the clothing choices for ‘Millennium’? Did the producers have an idea for how they wanted the characters to look? How much creative license was offered to you in designing the costumes?

THYRZA SEGAL: I am not sure, I was not on set or in the dressing room. I just altered the clothes but usually the designer gives the actor several choices that they pick from the day before they shoot if the actor is a guest or “day player.”

BTFB: How much input, if any, do the actors themselves have into the look of their characters? For instance, did Lance Henriksen, or others, ever wear any of their own clothing?

TS: Not on ‘Millennium’ as I recall but Lance wore his own hat on a movie I designed unbeknown to me and it caused major problems because we did not have multiples of it. They are not supposed to wear their own clothing but sometimes it happens.

BTFB: A lot of the clothing in ‘Millennium’ was off-the-rack items. How much of the clothing was custom made? Were pieces often altered, dyed or otherwise tailored to fit the individual actor or to achieve the desired look?

TS: We made most of Emma’s coats and numerous other pieces that were too hard to locate in stores. The amount of alteration on that show was major. It employed three people full time which is quite high for a tv show.

BTFB: Despite being a decade old now there is nothing particularly dating about the costumes that were selected. Is it a conscious decision when working on a series to try and avoid current trends that may date the show later?

TS: Yes. It is common to try to keep things “N.D.” (non-descript) so that nothing stands out to take attention away from the story or actor.

BTFB: On a weekly television show, how do time restraints, location changes and budget affect the choices the costume department makes? Working in cold, wet conditions in Canada, how did the weather affect the costuming?

TS: During the winter, in the rain, up in the forest, the actors need extensive underwear to keep them warm and dry over long shooting days and the underwear has to be invisible from the outside. We made polar fleece long johns and tops in a nude colour . Also it is common to have goretex nude long underwear for dryness to go on even over the top of the polar flleece. The time constraints are also major. A day player will not get fitted until the day before they play so we were often up all night sewing and altering garments which we would have to drive to set at 5 am.

BTFB: I noticed you have worked on another genre franchise, namely, ‘Stargate: Atlantis’. Is it creatively more engaging to work on a show where the task of designing costumes is not so dependent on the mundane and the real.

TS: Yes. I also worked on Stargate SG1 building costumes. I very much enjoyed my time on Atlantis and SG1. The costumers mostly came from theatre like me and were all very skilled and it was a pleasure to work there, Christina McQuarrie was also a very good designer and I learned a lot from her.

BTFB: As your job is very creative do you enjoy creative pursuits in your time between projects?

TS: I am doing my own art now from my studio at home. I have been making lamps and terrariums and making costumes for my friends’ children for Halloween. I have also done some costume sketches for other designers – you can see pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/thyrza

BTFB: In your career as a costume designer, what film or television project are you most proud of? What can we expect to see from you in the future?

TS: The show I was most proud of was a Midsummer Night’s Dream which was a theatrical production at Red Deer College. You can see some of the pictures of the costumes on my website http://www.thyrza.ca but I also did the set design. I am going to put together a master website with all of my stuff on it sometime soon too (within the year anyway). I do not think I will necessarily return to costuming but progress to the next phase of my design career – Industrial Design.

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