In an exclusive preview, Entertainment Weekly released some of the Russell Dauterman costume designs for the long-awaited Hellfire Gala. This is high fashion at its mutant finest, because, as we know, mutants don’t wear human clothes. As is to be expected, we’ve got some thoughts on Dauterman’s designs and his rationale and inspirations.
Dani: I love how the elements are literally embodied in this outfit. It’s reminiscent of previous looks, but elevated, which to me, are when these outfits stand out and succeed. This is full goddess mode.
Wendy: Russell Dauterman continues to remind us that Storm is his favourite character and bestows upon her the level of worship she absolutely deserves.
Kat: I love it, beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, terrifying. LOVE the shoes — this type of shoe always makes me think of Celia Cruz’ shoes which means Storm is ready to stun but also cut up the dancefloor.
Rebecca: Literally a cape made out of a storm?! Inspired.
Max: While I think she looks gorgeous, of course, I’m a little bit disappointed that Dauterman chooses to give Ororo textured hair for this event only, where many characters going for looks that are “outrageous” and “unconventional”, yet keeps her hair neatly straightened in every other appearance. Why can’t she have big gorgeous hair all the time?
Nola: The thing that REALLY gets me about this look isn’t just that the cape is made out of a storm, it’s that the cape is made out of the storm, and the storm is also her hair. The storm is Storm. Now I’ve typed storm too many times and it looks weird.
Dani: I LOVE this look. It mixes so many design elements of Jean’s previous looks, both contemporary and classic. It’s got style, it’s got flare, and the open-back creates an amazing soft contrast to the dramatic shoulder-pads. The color palette also feels really well constructed to highlight her hair color, mixing greens and tinted golds throughout.
Wendy: Do I spy pieces of Dave Cockrum’s original design in there? I am going to nitpick the train though, as it I’d prefer to have seen a fuller, maybe wrapped skirt with a show of leg. Dauterman speaks of wanting to give her a power suit that reflects her leadership of the X-Men, which is all well and good — I want this, sans train, to be her new look — but for a gala event, she doesn’t need to be on duty. Or rather, wrap a long, elegant skirt at the waist and, should anything untoward happen that even, she can tear it off and summon her X-Men to battle.
Rebecca: All the gold details really pop, and I love her shoes. This kind of reminds me of the costumes in both Wonder Woman movies, but more elegant? Less… mechanical. I also like how she looks like she’s wearing a dress from the back but if she turns around it’s a surprise jumpsuit. The floating headpiece is also great, though imagine having to hold part of your outfit up with your brain for an entire party.
Nola: There are pieces of Cockrum, pieces of the ’90s Lee look, pieces of the X-Men Red sequel to that, and elements of the Young Jean costume from the time-displaced team. I really, deeply love this look, and the waist cape feels like an Emma-inspired addition—as much as it maybe doesn’t work for hero-ing, it’s a great bit for a gala.
Dani: I feel like this look is absolutely what happens when you let Scott Summers pick out his own outfit. It also stands out as fantastic evidence of why he shouldn’t.
Kat: I like the Daft Punk visor look but the rest doesn’t quite hit the high-fashion notes for me that the rest of the lewks here do. I think one of the reasons is that he’s still in a full body suit here — maybe trousers or even separate boots could have broken it up?
Wendy: Did Havok dress his brother as a cruel joke? I’m not loving the unitard here. The back suggests a cropped jacket, but the front could have used more definition with a widening at the chest. I am also not fond of the ultra futuristic ’80s movie vibe in the helmet that doesn’t fully mesh with the rest of the outfit. Perhaps something less angular, even feathery. This would have been a fine time to raid his dad’s closet for a pair of thigh-high corsair boots.
Rebecca: It looks like it’s a separate cropped jacket but the gloves are attached, which is a cool detail. I think the jacket would’ve stood out more if the unitard was a different color, or, like Kat said, more separate pieces. Maybe like a mesh shirt and trousers. Also, I’m not feeling the design of his boots; they remind me of rainboots?
Nola: This look says “palace guard” to me in a way that a guy who refuses a Council position to be a field captain would prefer. It’s a little dorky but I like that for him. My read on Scott has always been that he’s the consummate soldier for Xavier’s dream, so of course he’s wearing a giant logo—he’s literally a Giant-Sized X Man. My one note is that I wish this had more of a textural element; something like a brocade on the jacket.
Dani: This look may be my favorite because it’s one of the clear design choices. It takes the iconic Rachel look, and elevates it. It feel so dramatic, as if this look was walking through a S&M Drag Show. It’s not overly designed but manages to remain dramatic because it commits to it’s prompt. And that prompt was SHARP. It’s also nice to see “hound” look be reclaimed. Wearing this look, so tied to her trauma, to the Gala is an Omega Level Flex. It’s low-hanging fruit to an extent but I respond really well to reclaiming and reframing trauma through fashion.
Kat: I think I dislike this look for the reasons that Dani likes it, haha — I wish she could get looks unrelated to her traumatic past or her role as a hound. Aesthetically, I like the spikes, but it’s just not coming together for me thematically.
Wendy: I have to agree with Kat. The aesthetics are incredible, but it’s too much a link back to Rachel’s trauma that stories keep throwing her back into right along with this outfit. Dauterman’s design speaks to her taking control of and power over that trauma, but then has her silenced with a mouthguard. I would much rather see empowerment embodied in something more evolutionary that shows her learning from but moving beyond. Instead of constantly being reminded that she was a hound, let’s remember that she was also a Phoenix host.
Nola: See, but this IS her Phoenix host look. Her hound costume was always black, but as the Phoenix, she wore this red. To me this look absolutely says, “you need to know exactly who you’re dealing with.” I think I read the mouth-guard differently too—she’s a telepath, having her mouth covered means when she communicates, she’s reminding everyone of her power. I’ve always empathized a lot with Rachel as a character; her trauma has given her hard edges, and I related to that a lot. I like that her sharpness is literally on display here.
Warren Worthington III
Dani: This one feels like a layup. It’s what we might expect out of glammed-up Warren. It’s good, not bold, not overstated. I mean this in the best way possible, this is a highly believable look for Warren. It’s chic, flattering, but not overly worked.
Wendy: This is the Angel Tini Howard is talking about. For a long time, Angel has been bound up in his hero persona and trying so hard to be that guy, but I love the X-Men best when the characters are shaped beyond their heroic roles and the subsequent horrors they have endured. Let Warren be a shiny playboy enjoying life and a serious businessman who tag teams with Emma Frost in the boardroom. This outfit is all high-class champagne room secrets and promises that may or may not be fulfilled.
Kat: I think this is the most baffling look to me, haha — sorry but when I think of high fashion and Warren I think of a Met Gala-esque tuxedo. This is more like, welcome to my incredibly rich person’s island villa couture.
Nola: I am generally of the opinion that the less clothing Warren wears, the better. I love the X pattern on the inside of his shrug, and the single gold X between his wings on the back. I also enjoy that the halo is both an X and “floating” over his chest, as halos are generally aloft on angels.
Monet St. Croix
Dani: I love that this one plays so much with shifting silhouettes. The transparent pant leg, the way the accents of red and white create and disrupt silhouettes is really striking. The headpiece feels like it may have been better served as a belted accent.
Wendy: The Penance fascinator and wrappings give an otherwise elegant, high-class piece the perfect amount of edge, like killer shoulder pads on a ’90s I Mean Business pantsuit.
Rebecca: The longer I look at this outfit, the more I love it. The silhouettes, colors, and patterns take up most of the attention but after looking more closely I think the gloves are my favorite part. They match the fascinator without being too obvious about it.
Nola: I have trouble with this one because I think it looks very good, but I don’t feel like it evokes who she is strongly enough? I don’t get the segments on the boots and bodysuit; I don’t understand why they’re there.
Dani: (Tim Gunn voice) I’m concerned. I see what this look is aiming at, but it falls short of the styled-up sexy victorian look mixed with armor. Instead, it reads like Betsy needed to use what she had laying around to construct a last-minute Sailor Scouts cosplay.
Wendy: It took a minute for me to recover from imagining a costume transformation sequence for Betsy, but I think this outfit is growing on me. The incorporation of all of her looks works really well from the neck down, but the red makeup and rose hair adornments and colour shift don’t do her Outback outfit justice and don’t really collaborate with the rest of the outfit.
Rebecca: Very Effie from The Hunger Games, tbh.
Kat: This is a little ‘sexy Marie Antoinette’ Halloween costume for me.
Nola: I think the Captain Britain colors detract from the ways this draws on Betsy’s original, Alan Davis-drawn poofy-sleeved costume. I like the facial makeup because I’m a sucker for a Furiosa-style facemask, but also because it reminds me of kind of a pre-Britain folksy Isles aesthetic. Whether that works for a rich daughter of British elite is another question entirely. I like the way the wrist ties evoke her psychic weaponry, but on the whole, I’m really not getting enough “Betsy Braddock” from this look; it’s all getting drowned out by the Captain Britain stuff.
Dani: Rogue giving tasteful underboob through lace? Yes. Rogue is high-collar leather? YES! This absolutely reads as believable, it reads as something she’d own, it’s very similar to previous looks, but still elevated.
Wendy: The call back to Jim Lee and lace plus her original costume design with edgy additions is brilliant. The combination, complete with the red accents, gives off a very Grace Jones-esque vibe.
Nola: This outfit is my favorite one. It elevates her various looks with fresh implementations—I love the translation of her hooded costume into that massive, dramatic collar, and I love the slight touch of her X-Treme costume in the addition of sunglasses. Sunglasses to a gala! Rogue said “try me.” I also love the lace, because it’s showing skin without showing skin—a really elegant solution to the concept of Rogue wishing to be seen while also communicating the message of how she restrains herself for everyone’s safety.
Dani: “Yes, 911…I would like to report a theft. Somebody stole Kate’s lamps, cause she definitely got dressed in the dark.” I love the nods to Rachel’s mask and Ilyanna’s arm. Also, what even is this look? It’s half fitted jacket and half formless dress. It reads as being designed by somebody with a lot of ideas about avante garde couture, but having seen very little of that actual section of the fashion world.
Wendy: I appreciate what Kate is trying to do here with the callout to all her BFFs (is that Wolverine in her hair?), but the symbolism is overwhelmed by an outfit that looks very much like what a 13-year-old Jubilee tried to pull together when she raided the X-closets.
Rebecca: I don’t know, this is kind of my favorite one. Like the boots don’t really match the rest of it, but the design of the coat is really doing it for me. The boldness of her accessories/the sharpness and fluidity of the lines made by the coat are the kind of high fashion I want to see at a Gala. I guess the dress could be better, too. Maybe I just really like the coat.
whatever else goes on kate pryde will always be fuckin terrible at fashion and i love that for her
— non fungible tolkien (@nolapfau) March 16, 2021
Max: My first instinct was total dislike. It’s a completely ugly outfit. But that’s totally the point, isn’t it? If she wore something that was a little bit off-kilter, but cute, she’d still be fashionable. This fumbling attempt at high fashion, that she will most certainly be wearing with 100% confidence, is total Kate Pryde.
Emma Frost (v1)
Dani: Fur mound with a boob window…I don’t know that based on anything else I’ve ever seen Emma in, this feels consistent for the character. But she is from Boston…
Nola: How many times did Beast have to die for the raw material in this look, and why wasn’t it enough times?
Emma Frost (v2)
Dani: Better, but the paper airplane that Quentine Quire threw at her head didn’t need to be incorporated.
Wendy: Main course.
Nola: I don’t get the boots here, but I love the coat and the headpiece—it evokes sharp edges, like diamonds are capable of.
Emma Frost (v3)
Dani: NOW THIS is the look I wanted to see. Elegant, decadent, side-boob, playing off her diamond skin.
Nola: I’m gay.