Cosplay Couture interpretation of Khan Noonien Singh/John Harrison from Star Trek:Into Darkness
Costume (Shirt, jacket and coat) and styling by Courtney Coulson
Photography by Luke Milton
Location Claremont Quarter carpark
I love Star Trek, Benedict Cumberbatch, Khan and the costume designer Michael Kaplan and this year they all came together in one to create a seriously cool villain.
The moment I saw Khan I was in love with his fashion-forward look, Benedict always rocks the long coats and high collars. And that hair, I had to get it cut like that whether I did this shoot or not, it’s so damn cool!
My auburn hair has kind of become a signature part of my look throughout these shoots, but every once in awhile I find it’s not approriate for a certain character, Khan being one of them. I used a temporary rinse, the auburn still kind of shows through, but it’s darker at least.
I spent a long time really considering the designs and styling, I redesigned the silver coat a few times. The black jacket is a reference to the shirt he wears once he has been taken aboard the Enterprise with subtle nods to the other variations of the Starfleet uniform. For these designs I was looking at asymmetry and complex lines, triangular shapes being my main inspiration. There’s somethig about triangles that are aggressive and masculine to me.
Khan wears five coats in total, two silver, one black and one brown, the fifth being the alternate brown coat he wears in some promotional photos which has a similar but distinctly different look to the one used in the film. My silver coat is a mash-up of all of them. I chose silver because nothing sells the idea of futuristic like silver. The upper half is lined with a silk/cotton which was originally peach, when I dyed it grey it still retained a lot of that pinky quality on the other side. Unfortunatley it doesn’t really read on camera but it does have an odd shimmery quality, grey with flecks of pinks and purple.The collar and right lapel is quilted, which was the most time consuming part. The lower half of the coat was left deliberately unlined to keep it as light as possible, it creates quite a dramatic look when walking or it’s windy.
And it was pretty windy when we shot, great for the coat, but not so much for the hair. I had to use so much product and continually comb it to keep it up. Thankfully Khan has it down just as often as he has it slicked back so I had options to play with.
The last time I “played” Benedict, in my Sherlock shoot, I kept the make-up fairly subtle and androgynous, it was all about trying to emulate the shape of his face. This time around I did pretty much the same thing with the exception of the eyes. I went with a really heavy all black smokey eye, because nothing says fashionably badass quite like it!
Finally the biggest challenge turned out to be body language/mannerisms. I have spent quite a while studying the way Khan moves, it’s this distinct, rigid economy of movement. He’s got the posture of a supersoldier as you would expect. Although he gets to move around alot in combat, his general state of being is standing or sitting perfectly straight with only the slightest robotic tilts of his head. Usually I try to mix a bit of fashion modelling in there, but it felt wrong for Khan, in fact a lot of things did. So Khan ended up being more subtle in a way, I focused on channeling that imposing unnatural posture, the intense facials expressions.
Courtney is by far a bigger fan than I am of this particular character, and to be honest it wasn’t something I was overly excited about when we first started discussing this one. However, seeing the amazing designs for the jacket quickly changed my mind. I love the sleekness and audaciousness of futuristic clothing - it’s hard thing to get right, but I think Courtney managed to find that balance. I knew straight away that the silver jacket was going to be the star of the shoot and she ended up making the very impressive black under jacket as well.
Location wise this was all about finding sleek, white, metal environments. The car park is a little grungier than I intended but I still think it works. Khan is often seen operating within the futuristic city in the film, so it’s not a bad fit, even when nondescript signage and things appear in the background. I really wanted these to almost look black and white, with the main bursts of colour being the lips and eyes. The goal was to make things as slick as absolutely possible.