Belfast Telegraph

Taraji P. Henson's Hidden Figures costumes sewn with subliminal messages

The wardrobe specialist's work has landed her a Costume Designers Guild Award nod.

Costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus stitched Taraji P. Henson's Hidden Figures wardrobe together with secret codes in mind.

The actress portrays real-life African-American mathematician Katherine G. Johnson in the historic film about the team of black female engineers who helped launch U.S. astronaut John Glenn into space during the segregated 1960s, and her costume was a perfect fit for her academic character.

Kalfus infused Taraji's wardrobe items with bright and bold hues to make sure her character stood out against her all-male and all-white NASA task force colleagues.

"When she enters into that place, they don't want her," Renee explains to Fashionista. "They think she's the janitor. The guy hands her a trash can. Subliminally, here she is in this powerful colour amongst all these guys who are all just the same."

Kalfus created a uniform look for the NASA task force men, choosing to dress them in stark white button-down shirts, grey pants and black ties as a symbolic gesture.

In real life, Johnson was the only woman and person of colour in the NASA task force room and Renee wanted to drive this point home with her costumes, making Taraji's outfits more vivid as the film advanced.

"The arc in her costumes gets stronger," Kalfus shares. "They get more bold and a little more extreme."

Renee's Hidden Figures wardrobe design work has earned her a Costume Designers Guild Award nomination for Excellence in Period Film, but she has already received the greatest accolade: "They brought the movie down to the real Katherine G. Johnson, who's 98 years old, and she walked out and says, 'I wore those clothes!'" the designer recalls. "That was a high compliment that she felt that she saw herself up on the screen, which was wonderful."

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