Theaterkunst Talk

Nicole Fischnaller

We can count ourselves lucky to share a long history of cooperation with costume designer Nicole Fischnallet. She has used costumes from our collection to outfit films and series such as “The Counterfeiters”, “Munich Games”, “Souls”, “A Most Wanted Man”, “We Children From Bahnhof Zoo”, “Narcissus and Goldmund” or “Colonia Dignidad – A Sinister Sect”.

Starting on 21 February 2024 the eight-part series “Constellation” will launch on Apple TV+, taking us into the vast expanse of space and into the life of an astronaut. After a terrible accident occurs in space, Jo (Noomi Rapace) returns home to find that parts of her life on earth no longer correspond to her memories. For this production, Nicole and her team made use of our costumes. We asked her about the film and her work.

© AppleTV


Nicole Fischnaller

Science fiction has not been a common genre in your filmography so far. How did you approach this topic, and can you tell us about the selection of costumes you used for it?

The series isn’t actually science fiction, but is rather set in the year 2022. It’s a psychological drama about a psychopathological syndrome known as “high altitude psychosis“, which has been diagnosed in people who have spent long periods of time at high altitude or in outer space.

In the case of the astronaut in “Constellation”, the condition manifests itself as a questioning of reality: After returning from a long stay on the ISS, she perceives an alternate, parallel reality, which she starts taking to be the real one. For us that meant that each character in the series appears in two different realities, with different sets of costumes (sometimes more, sometimes less different), but in effect resulting in twice the number of costumes. You can only imagine the logistical issues on the set!

What did you have to consider when it came to the spacesuits?

The requirements for the spacesuits were extremely high. First of all, they had to correspond as closely as possible to the spacesuits used on the International Space Station ISS. For the Sojus flight to and from the ISS they settled on the Russian Sokol spacesuit, which I had reconstructed based on an original that we found with a collector in Dresden. For the EVA suits (which stands for extravehicular activity, meaning the excursions outside of the ISS), it was the Russian Orlan suit, which can’t be found in any costume collection anywhere in the world. So those were modelled on the actual suits according to documentary footage and endless research photos.

The weight of the suits – the body of which was made of a fiberglass/aluminum construction – played an incredibly important role. Hours and hours of training had to be done with the construction and stunt teams before the actors could move and communicate while wearing these suits. The suits were also wired, of course, to provide interior lighting, ventilation inside the helmets as well as a communications system. And let’s not forget the biggest fun factor: Zero gravity! Every costume, even those used inside the ISS, was rigged and given up to 12 holes for pick-points.

The production took you through half of Europe: Berlin, Brandenburg, Denmark, the Baltic Sea region, Finland and Morocco. How did you prepare your costume team to meet this major organizational challenge?

To start off with, it was a fantastic team! First and foremost, our outstanding supervisor, who masterfully brought all the elements together. We divided the assistant positions into “cast reality 1 and 2”, “spacesuits/uniforms” and “extras”. Then there was the ISS team in the studio, while at the same time the cruise ship team was preparing the shooting on the Vasco Da Gama from Travemünde to Helsinki, then Morocco, where we filmed the landing of the Sojus capsule in Kazakhstan, and so on. In Finland we recruited local support. I was immensely grateful to the colleagues from Helsinki for their experience shooting in temperatures of between -15°C and -30°C!

You keep coming to Theaterkunst for your various projects, often having costumes made in our atelier. What do you feel is so special about a costume collection like ours?

That’s right, I’ve actually been a regular at Theaterkunst since the late ‘90s, and I’ve come to know and appreciate the fantastic collection with costumes from virtually every era. Especially in the ‘70s and ‘80s section, but also the ‘20s to ‘40s department, you can find real design rarities of museum-quality, which are almost too nice to be worn! Another treasure is the incomparable library, which contributes greatly to any research that needs to be done. So especially when it comes to the production of historical costumes, this, combined with the support of the incredibly professional workshop, helps ensure the success of a project.

Do you feel that the idea of sustainability in the business has changed in recent years?

Definitely! Whenever a project allows for it, I always look for costumes in the various costume collections first. By now there are so many more possibilities of finding really great vintage clothes rather than buying them new. A lot of people in the business would agree. And clearly, a vintage piece of clothing adds a lot more history and character to start with.

Honestly now: Do you prefer historical, contemporary or science fiction?

Everything 🙂

Thanks, and see you again at Theaterkunst!

Thank you for all the hard work you do!