The Masked Singer's over-the-top lavish costumes do more than protect the identities of the stars who are performing, they transform the hit Fox singing competition into a full on fantasy fever dream production. With characters like Monster, Thingamajig and Banana worming their way into our hearts over the seasons, there's more than meets the eye when it comes to The Masked Singer's costume department.
Recently, costume designer, Marina Toybina opened up to Buzzfeed about everything that goes into designing and manufacturing the wacky and wild costumes for some of Hollywood's biggest names. Keep scrolling to learn some of the secrets of The Masked Singer design room.
Building the Costume
Toybina explained of the show's pre-production process that each costume takes about three to four weeks to build, with about six or seven of the costumes being built simultaneously. Before that, the designer takes about a month to work on illustrations and concepts and another two to three months to build all the costumes.
Coming up with these concepts, Toybina said her team works to "strategically figure out what's best for the show" in terms of design and making sure to have a diverse array of characters that fans want to see.
When celebrity contestants sign on to the show, they get to pick their own costume, which is why so many of the star reveals feel so personally related to their on-stage persona. Toybina said after meeting with the casting director to see which celebrities she will be designing for, she then sends out concepts and sketches to the performers, who can give notes and allow the design team to add personal details.
"We go and really analyze what the character is like and what [the celebrities] like about it," Toybina told Buzzfeed. "A majority of the time, they're drawn to certain things based on personal preference."
While the large and flamboyant costumes appear to be heavy and difficult to move around in, Toybina said the masks are much lighter than they seem. Built atop helmets to allow for a perfect fit on the star's heads, lightweight foam is then used to craft the persona in a way that allows the talent to sing and dance.
The celebs then go through a series of fittings where they can get used to wearing their mask and make any customizations and adjustments needed before they begin filming.
Keeping the stars safe as they perform in their costumes is a number one priority for the production team, who provide each performer a signal they can use whenever they need to take off their mask or are getting too hot. Cooling rooms are also provided backstage, and every contestant has a personal costumer attending to them with water and fans. Despite all their precautions, Toybina said there have rarely been issues with overheating, and that performers are permitted to take off their masks immediately after they perform.
Some costumes, including the Monster and Banana, have masks with LED effects with special safety aspects, however. Toybina explained to Buzzfeed, "Season 1 was our trial run to see what will happen to a costume that's cylindrical. We did have some issues with overheating inside. So we had to open up the vents and make sure that we could build in fans. We do turn them off during the performance so there's no sound effects going through. Now, with [costumes] that allow me space to build any kind of cooling system, we build it in right away."
The contestants' practiced moves are well-earned, as they do dress rehearsals in their masks to make sure they can see and perform under stage lights and with any visual restrictions. If there are last minute issues, the costume team can fix them, but otherwise the celebrity can figure out how to accommodate their performances to their over-the-top attire.
While the stars look completely camera-ready when they're eventually unmasked, the performers aren't actually breaking it down in full hair and makeup. Toybina revealed to Buzzfeed that the celebs have the option to be quickly made up if they're up for elimination, and that there is some prep time available to put the finishing touches on their appearance before they are finally unmasked. Others, however, opt to simply go au naturale!
With Season 3 wrapped up, The Masked Singer crew is waiting on production protocol to be handed down about filming Season 4 of the show amid the coronavirus pandemic. "As of right now, we're really hoping that we start filming or start prepping in the next couple of months and hopefully have a show by the end of the year. But unfortunately, a lot of it is out of our hands right now," Toybina said.
While the timeline is still unknown, Toybina said her costume concepts for the new season are "even more interesting and different" than what viewers have seen so far, with the team diving into a more cartoonish approach and new technical parts of costuming that people have yet to see.