God Style: The Costumes of “American Gods,” Part Four

Posted on June 22, 2017

Breaking down the costume design for the American Gods finale has been a bit of a challenge for us. The previous entry went pretty deep on the meanings and references in Bilquis’ hair and costumes, and teased out some meaning and references in the costumes of Mr. Nancy and The Technical Boy. In the entry after this one, we’ll be talking about the confrontation with between the old gods and the new ones, which will provide a decent amount of discussion. But for this middle post? We’re afraid this one’s going to be quick and easy because there’s really only one theme and one reference being made here.

Easter, of course. And how do you render Easter in clothing form? By putting everyone in their Sunday best.



Shadow Moon

We’ve restricted our costume design commentary to the overtly divine characters in the story, because their costumes in particular have a heightened sense of reality to them, as well as an archetypal quality. Mad Sweeney is the quintessential rowdy Irishman, for instance. Media is Marilyn Monroe when she offers temptation, Lucille Ball when she offers a business deal, and David Bowie when she offers a subtle threat. Vulcan wears the standard look for an old soldier. The Zorya crone wears lace; the Zorya maiden, a gauzy, body-skimming cotton. Anansi, spinner of tales and of silk, is a suited Harlem Dandy. And so on.

But we’re giving Shadow a spot here because he’s wearing the handiwork of a god and that handiwork is both god-like in its archetypal simplicity and also Anansi-like in its style. With its polka dots, paisley and purple, this is the quintessential Easter Sunday men’s suit. The color story works with and matches the decor of the party and the polka dots, paisley and silk touches are pure Mr. Nancy.

Also, Ricky Whittle looks hot as hell in it.



Give us a moment here. We need to collect ourselves.

This is some serious high drag. It also makes a handy illustration of our earlier point about how the costumes of the gods are both archetypal and heightened at the same time. Shadow’s suit is a church-ready and wouldn’t stand out in any Easter Sunday gathering except for its stylishness. But Ostara herself? She’s taken the motifs of springtime womenswear and ramped them up to semi-absurd proportions, choking you on pink and lavender and flowers and floaty, ruffly sheers. From the oversized fascinator to the butterfly shoes and jewelry, to the outrageously complicated hairstyle (which Bryan Fuller requested to look like a ram’s head, to give her an ancient, primal feeling), it’s Easter Sunday finery, with the dials turned up to about 200,000. It’s almost a parody of Sunday church lady clothes, with one notable twist: it bares more skin than the normal Easter dress. Between the absurdly complicated, antidiluvian hair, the gigantic flower, the glitter eyeshadow, and the incongruously sexy dress, the effect is both comforting in its familiarity and subtly off-putting in its exaggeration. Make no mistake, there’s real power here. And that tightly bound ram’s head of a coif is holding it all back, as we’ll see later.

As we noted before with Anansi in his tailor shop or Technical Boy in his limo, gods at the seat of their power tend to resemble that seat fairly closely. Ostara is pretty much at one with the decor here.

And finally, what is Easter Sunday without a preacher man to guide the proceedings?



Mr. Wednesday

Wednesday’s suit speaks of ministers, preachers or other forms of Christian holy men. There’s an ecclesiastic tone to the collar and vest combination. Mr. Nancy understood that when you visit a god in the seat of her power, you better come correct and full of respect. Odin is paying homage to Easter by dressing appropriately for her occasion, but Anansi made sure to dress him like a man of authority and bearing too.

Note how there are subtle panels of gray in the jacket and collar, just as there have been gray and white tones to all of his costumes. It works well here, because he stands out in all the scenes set in the house and garden. Everyone else and everything else is exploding with color, except Odin Graybeard.

Later, Odin’s costume will serve as a rebuke to the other gods; a direct response of defiance rendered visually.

But that’s for the next post. And if you haven’t caught up on the other entries in this series, well, you’ve got some reading to do.




[Photo Credit: Starz – Stills: Tom and Lorenzo, Starz]

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