comScore Gotham Costume Designer Lisa Padovani | The Mary Sue

Gotham‘s Costume Designer Lisa Padovani Describes Her Process


The costuming on Gotham  especially Fish Mooney’s immortal style  comes by way of of Emmy-nominated costume designer Lisa Padovani, who opened up in a Variety feature about her creative process for choosing each character’s aesthetic. The show’s timeless “gothic” setting posed a unique challenge for Padovani:

Even though it’s not a period piece, per se, it’s a concept piece, so everything is very particular … It’s a problem for costume designers in TV because you’re at the mercy of whatever’s going on in fashion. That’s why I like to control my product.

When Padovani says she “controls” her product, what she means is that she builds the majority of the show’s costumes in-house, especially Mooney’s killer wardrobe.

As for inspiration, Padovani took a note from both punk rock fashion and Bladerunner. She also added in her own style to episodes like the one in which Bruce and Cat go to a charity ball; the fashions on display were inspired by Truman Capote’s 1966 Black and White ball.

In our concept meeting about the episode, I wanted to give it a theme, even though it wasn’t on the page … I wanted some society ladies with that ’60s big, beehivey hair (and) Dior straight coat dresses and gloves — but mixed in with some contemporary. It still gives you that feeling of “When is this?”

As for the ball gown that Cat wears, every last accessory had a story:

I wanted her to look like a fairy princess but with some edge. We created this big beautiful tulle skirt over this tight bodice with little cap sleeves, but it’s lined in leather. And we made her little lacy mitts like her leather mitts. If you really look at it she’s wearing fishnet stockings and these interesting ruby slippers that are very modern. I don’t skimp, because you never know what you’re going to see.

Even if you think Gotham‘s story is too corny to sit through, you’ve got to admit that Padovani’s work strikes a chord. Which of her designs did you love the most?

(via Variety, image via SCPR)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (