Wearing a corset is just one of the hazards of the job on Timeless.
The time-traveling drama takes Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Matt Lanter), and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) on adventures through the decades, from President Lincoln's assassination in 1865 to the Watergate scandal in 1972 to the capture of Benedict Arnold in 1780.
As they trek to a new era, they need to look the part. And that's where Timeless costume designer Mari-An Ceo comes in. It's up to her to dress the actors so that they fit seamlessly into each new time and place.
We read the script and collaborate with the production designers, the directors, the writers, the producers, and have a concept meeting about it," Ceo says of the process. "Obviously, the time period makes it distinct, but then we also try to approach it with different color palettes. We try to find out what the mood and the color is, and build around that."
Since many of the episodes focus on a famous real-life event, Ceo can draw on photos and drawings. "Like Lincoln, which is an event that actually occurred, we research as much as we can into what it actually looked like," she explains. "Sometimes, we ignore that altogether, which we did with Bonnie and Clyde. There were photos of what they actually had on, but rather than give it away, we created an entirely different version of what occurred that day."
And just like Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus have to race to prevent villain Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) from altering history too much, Ceo has to race to dress them every week.
“Time is not our friend. It all happens very quickly," she says. "We frequently are up against a lot of other TV shows and movies, so we don’t have clothing availability. It’s like the show Project Runway every week and just trying to get it to camera on time."
Click through this photo gallery for Ceo's comments on different looks, why certain colors were chosen, and how they find those killer accessories.
Timeless returns Monday, Jan. 16 at 10 p.m. on NBC.