‘Cowboy Bebop’ costume designer speaks out on Faye controversy

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Behind every TV character is a team of experts who come together to make the character feel real. One of the most important unsung roles off-screen is a show’s costume designer.

Jane Holland, the costume designer on Netflix’s forthcoming Cowboy Bebop reboot, spoke to Anime News Network ahead of the adaptation and had a few words for fans who were upset at her work on one character in particular.

“The design is… well… It’s designed by a woman, made by predominantly women for a woman to wear and it functions for an action show,” she said in response to Faye Valentine’s new outfit. The reaction to the IRL look of the Bebop’s crew was overwhelmingly positive, but a vocal minority took issue with both the casting and costuming of Faye specifically. It’s not hard to imagine why.

“It’s interesting,” Holland elaborates, “because Spike’s suit isn’t literally the same as the anime. Jet isn’t identical to the anime. Their costumes have had to be adapted and interpreted for real live humans, and subjected to vigorous consideration of how they function as a signature costume in the action and demands of filming. In the design of Faye, I considered the same things – live human and function.”

Faye is played by Daniella Pineda, who spoke out against misogynistic criticisms of her casting after the reveal. “I wanted to apologize to the fans that I did not anatomically match the Faye Valentine character,” Pineda said in a sarcasm-laiden video posted to Instagram.

But criticism shortly turned its way from Pineda to her outfit, which unsurprisingly carried a similarly gendered undertone. At the time, no one was talking about Holland, but her interview sounds keenly aware of past discourse. In what sounds like a rejoinder to the viral outrage, Holland got into the detail of her design choices:

“It wasn’t so much about not being revealing (Her shorts are, in fact, very short. Her top has a zip which sits pretty low – the red outfit in the trailer is hardly demure), it was about not being gratuitous…She has a leather jacket because it’s a functional garment that will stand the rigours of her job – a bounty hunter. She wears combat boots for the same reason with a thigh high extension that embraces the design lines of the anime.”

And there are many more tiny details for fans to appreciate.

“The caps of the poppers on her costume are engraved with a labyrinth denoting her lost identity,” Holland shares, “and the abstract print down the back of the leggings relates to the song ‘My Funny Valentine.’ You know as well as I do, there’s way more to Faye than a skimpy costume. For me, and I hope for you too, the spirit of Faye Valentine is alive and well in the series.”

Cowboy Bebop premieres on Netflix on Nov. 19.