Station Eleven Costume Designer Helen Huang on How the Real World Pandemic Influenced the Series' Costumes

In HBO Max's limited series Station Eleven we're taken into a world forever altered by a devastating flu pandemic, one that wipes out a large swath of the world's population, but even with the unthinkable tragedy of that, two decades on civilization continues and, in some ways, even thrives. It's a series that is almost hauntingly timely, given where we are in our own journey with the coronavirus pandemic, but like so many television shows and films, Station Eleven felt the impact of our real-world pandemic during production. That impact included costumes for the series and according to costume designer Helen Huang, it helped add authenticity to the looks of the characters.

Speaking with, Huang explained that because of COVID-19 closing down most of their traditional resources for costumes, they turned to vintage stores and she feels like it helped the creative process.

"I think it does because it made us have to design around a set of problems, which actually is not bad because it gives us a quality that would not have been there if we had access to everything," she said.

"But also, I've been doing this a lot and I've been thinking about it a lot and sometimes when you find new things, they're kind of wasteful," she continued. "I'm an advocate of always sourcing used things and vintage things. Not only does this help with that, but also adds to the authenticity of characters. We just did that to a greater degree on this, where we just digged in barrels to look for these things that people are wearing. Kirsten was wearing ski pants from the 80s … It really does go back to scavenging and solving problems and practicalities and melding those things together to create an aesthetic for all the people."

The real-world pandemic also impacted the theatrical costumes for the Traveling Symphony as well.

"Because of the pandemic, we were shooting up in Canada and everything was closed," Huang said. "The only places we had access to was vintage stores that had barrels and barrels of vintage clothing, So, we did have to source from that to make these costumes. All the headdresses are actually from dumpster dives… Claudius' crown is made out of wires. Gertrude's crown is made out of cardboard and symbols and different found objects have been painted to look like decorative art. So, it was a lot that went into those costumes. Obviously, there was a lot of trial and error around everything, but at the end I think what we got was something that had a very found and also foreign but familiar quality because a lot of things used in it were things that exist in this world."

Station Eleven is now streaming on HBO Max. The series finale airs January 13th.