Costumes of ‘Camelot’

Karina Finegan/Starz

How designer Joan Bergin re-created a sixth-century Arthurian legend using surprising inspirations.

After earning three Emmys for her work on Showtime’s period series The Tudors, costume designer Joan Bergin is traveling a thousand years earlier to bring to life the sixth-century story of King Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower) as he battles his half sister, sorceress Morgan (Eva Green), for control of the fabled Camelot. For the debut season of Starz’s fantasy-drama series (premiering April 1), Bergin drew inspiration from Celtic mythology and stained-glass windows but also from India: She traveled to Delhi to source beautiful yet sturdy fabrics that fit the less-refined times. “I didn’t go with the usual, softer interpretation of Camelot,” says Bergin, who made 150 original pieces for the show. To create some of the dramatically embroidered gowns and draped dresses, which often are worn with intricately designed gold-and-leather headpieces, Bergin boiled cloth to generate a rougher texture. For many pieces, she also opted to use durable furniture fabric. The effect? Costumes that add an untamed edge to a storybook tale. Says Bergin, “They’re wildly romantic but also down and dirty.”