As someone who has designed a fair few 'gritty urban drama's', I know it's tough to get the pitch just right when you want to create a heightened world. Designing something which feels very real, where the design is playful and pronounced, whilst not distracting the viewer from the drama, isn't easy.
Breaking Bad is a great piece of contemporary costume design, cranked up but believable. I've thoroughly enjoyed Costume Designers Kathleen Detoro and Jennifer L Bryan's considered approach to the work, the characters are authentic yet their costumes are pushed right to the edge of realism.
In season 5, during the episode 'Gliding All Over', I was sure Skyler White changed her top to fit with the colour design of two scenes. She appears to go directly from muted purple, for a scene in Marie's house, into a muted blue for the scenes which start with Walt beside the pool. Breaking Bad is full of colour-play and visual references which are witty and defined yet somehow manage to pull off being distinct and subtle at the same time. As I googled about the use of colour in the series I found a few interesting posts regarding the symbolism used by the team:
It's not always the case that there is enough time spent together with the other creative HOD's on a film. Whenever there is proper time laid aside to discuss mood, tone and colour thoroughly, there is only benefit. I have worked on jobs where I've barely conversed with a make-up designer or a DOP in prep and looking back at the work it's not only crazy but it shows in the finished piece. I always try to share my process in order to gel with other departments but not everyone works in the same way.
When the team push each other to collaborate closely during prep then their instincts throughout the shoot are more cohesive and the finished work is always stronger. It's fair to say that charging around like crazy with hardly any of the prep spent in the same room as other departments isn't my favourite way to work.
It's clear in Breaking Bad that there was good collaboration throughout.
Images via The Colourful World of Breaking Bad