Katana blades, crossbows or guns are fine weapons, but it’s a good pair of boots that might determine one’s survival on “The Walking Dead.”
The infectious drama airs its season 7 finale tonight at 9 p.m. on AMC, with merciless flesh eating zombies abound. But to remain uninfected during the apocalypse, the program’s costume director Eulyn Womble revealed that the best protection is a tough boot — one of the few things the “walkers” can’t chomp through.
“I always put boots on, especially the women — It’s armor,” Womble told Footwear News at the 2017 Costume Designers Guild Awards in February. “Everything you’re wearing is armor. We’ve already established that with duct tape, [zombies] can not bite through, so it’s always good leather boots for walking or fighting.”
Womble wrapped designing costumes for the show last year and currently works on Fox’s “24: Legacy.”
Throughout the show’s run there have been subtle changes in wardrobe styles for the characters. For katana-wielding Michonne’s introduction in season 3, actress Danai Gurira’s heroine was equipped with a boot that symbolized strength.
“Michonne has lots of studs on her boot in the beginning — that was all a part of the plan, but Danai, in real life, wanted something more comfortable for her knees,” she said. “So I covered her sneakers — a hiking boot covered with a leather boot topper so it makes it look like boots, but it’s really not.”
Gurira’s customized footwear now features buckles and straps.
“With her, especially, everything she’s wearing is on purpose,” Womble added. “When you see her coming, you’re like, ‘oh s**t, maybe you don’t want to mess with this one.’ She looks like she’ll take you out — it’s like a warning. If you see her in the apocalypse, you’re going to be afraid.”
Womble said that designing for Michonne ‘s season 4 flashback scene is among her favorite style moments.
“She was a lawyer before she became Michonne, the warrior,” Womble explained. “When you go back in time and she’s a mom, with a baby and in a fancy apartment with artwork. I wanted her to look like an African princess,” Womble said, adding that she took inspiration from Gurira’s Zimbabwean ancestry. “I made things that were soft. It was very African-inspired. It was so beautiful and orange. Because it was a dream [sequence], I enhanced it and made it more fancy than anything you would have on in the house.”
One of the biggest challenges with the “Walking Dead” wardrobe is styling to reflect the fight scenes and replicate them over time; the characters wear their clothes much like uniforms.
“Each person has about seven or eight pieces and I have to make sure the aging is right and it continues — if something happens to [the characters], if they get cut in the face and they get blood on the shoulder, it continues on,” she explained. “It has to be fluid. Daryl (actor Norman Reedus) often wrecks his pants — in real life too. We’ll patch it up and keep the patch. We call it Frankensteining — it shows his growth.”