Apple TV+
Colin Farrell in Sugar, courtesy of Apple TV+.

Apple TV+’s neo-noir thriller Sugar stars Colin Farrell as a surprisingly sensitive private detective investigating the mysterious disappearance of a famous Hollywood producer’s granddaughter. Costume designer Christie Wittenborn set out to make his wardrobe as versatile and complex as John Sugar himself.

“John Sugar has this deep empathy and compassion for people. There’s a lot of that in Colin,” Wittenborn tells MovieMaker. “You don’t see that a lot in film noir detectives, because they’re hard boiled, bitter, brooding, jaded, you know — it’s so refreshing to see the way his character is evolving and working within these dark shadows of Los Angeles.”

Although the eight-episode first season, which is now streaming on Apple TV+, is set in the present day, it has a vintage-inspired film noir look and feel to it.

To craft Farell’s character’s signature look — which starts out as a classic black suit with a dark tie and a crisp white dress shirt and evolves as the show gets more complex — she and Farrell sat down together to discuss inspirations.

“I met with with Colin, and we were very in sync about the research and the things that I was bringing to the table,” she says.

For the overall look of the costumes, Wittenborn was inspired by classic film noirs like 1946’s The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and the 1967 French film Le Samouraï starring Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier.

“The one that stood out was Le Samurai for me. Just that specific style and silhouette. That’s what I used as my point of reference. I love that movie,” she says. “So when I talked to Colin about that, he was like, that’s perfect. And Colin also had specific references in mind, one of which was Frank Sinatra and the way he wore his suits.”

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More About Colin Farrell’s Sugar Wardrobe

Colin Farrell in Sugar, courtesy of Apple TV+.

The simplicity of Sugar’s main uniform made it easy for Wittenborn to keep a consistent color scheme across mediums as the show switches from black and white to color. It also gave her a nice palette to play with.

“It does have to work in both,” she says. “It was very much like this uniform that would like be throughout the show, but as his like character evolved and as we get further down the road… I started to introduce different fabrics, like mohair. Mohair has this texture and shine.”

She also had to consider how Farrell’s costumes would work in action scenes that involve a lot of movement.

“He’s got a lot of stunts. He’s an athletic build, he’s somebody who jogs all the time. So you have to make sure that everything is tailored to work on his athletic physique, and so building his suits was essential for me. I knew I was going to build all his his costumes because I wanted to ensure that it worked for him,” she says.

The series also stars Kirby, Amy Ryan, Sydney Chandler, Dennis Boutsikaris, Nate Corddry, Alex Hernandez, James Cromwell, Anna Gunn, and Eric Lange.

The rest of the Sugar craft team includes casting directors Sherry Thomas, Sharon Bialy, Rebecca Mangieri; director of photography César Charlone; production designer, Tom Foden; set decorator  Kathy Orlando; head hair designer Dennis Parker; head make-up designers Toni G. Denise Paulson; editors Fernando Stutz and John Petaja; composers  Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Youngel; music supervisor Gabe Hilfer; supervising sound editor Onnalee Blan and Branden Spencer; re-recording mixers Brian Tarlecki and Richard Kitting, and main titles design by Digital Kitchen.

Main Image: Colin Farrell in Sugar, courtesy of Apple TV+.