NTV’s “Mask” project is one of the most popular on Russian television. As part of the show, the stars hide behind fancy costumes, and it is the outfits that turn out to be the main characters of the show, creating intrigue. “Gazeta.Ru” found out how costumes are created and why some decisions of designers cause nausea in the heroes of the program.
The show “Mask” has been airing on NTV since 2020. This is an adaptation of the international format of Masked Singer: the stars of cinema, show business, sports take the stage – all of them perform in costumes in which it is impossible to recognize them, and in addition try to hide their real voices. The task of the jury members is to guess who is hiding under the mask.
The main characters of the show are not so much stars as costumes. According to the general producer of White Media Yulia Sumacheva, the work on the images begins in parallel with the selection of participants for each new season. Ideas are often drawn from foreign versions of the project and adapted to Russian.
The costumes in the show “Mask” are complex designs. Some of them even have a cooling system – a few small fans, thanks to which additional air enters the mask. In principle, these fans are similar to those used to cool laptop processors.
The Dragon costume, for example, has a mechanism that is responsible for the movement of the tail and wings. Donut has mechanical handles, and the Joker and Capricorn have bright eyes.
“In the New Year’s issue there were costumes with built-in screens, but in the third season of the show there are no such costumes. The built-in screens seemed uncomfortable to the artists. Many complained of dizziness and disorientation in space. This is because the screen must be located at a comfortable distance from human eyes, and given the size of the mask, this is not always possible. If the screen is too close to the eyes, they quickly become tired and sore. So far we have given up cameras, screens and lights. The fans stay, this is important, because they give extra access of oxygen to the suit and the participant is not so hot in the suit, ”explains Yulia Sumacheva.
How do you start working on a costume? The costume designer draws sketches based on the comments of creative producers, after which they are shown to the participants. They usually come to the show without the slightest idea of what characters will be portrayed – and choose from what is offered. But there are exceptions: some participants in the third season, which is on TV right now, have expressed their ideas in advance.
It takes an average of three to five months to create one costume, from sketching to finishing touches.
More than a hundred people are involved in this process. Among them, in addition to artists and props, there are specialists working with metal frames, and electricians who conduct light into costumes and build special screens in them.
Costumes are made of different materials, from leather, brocade and velvet to latex and rubber. Searches are going on everywhere – up to construction and antique shops.
Natural materials are often used as decoration. In particular, the peacock costume is decorated with real peacock feathers and feathers of other birds. “This is the only way to convey all the beauty and charm of peacock plumage – otherwise you just can’t do it,” the costume designers explain. In addition to pearls, the Octopus costume used about 300 seashells and starfish.
To create all the costumes in the third season required more than 10 km of various fabrics, about 30 kg of plastic, about 30 kg of various stones and rhinestones, 40 liters of liquid silicone and more than 25 kg of metal for frame structures.
With each season, the creators of the show try to make the costumes lighter, improving the technology of their manufacture. In cases where it is not possible to reduce the weight, a special corset system is used for even weight distribution. This is done to reduce the strain on the participant’s back and neck.
Costumes weigh an average of 7 to 15 kg, and the heaviest in the memory of costume designers was Nevalyashka.
As for the cost of one suit, it usually ranges around 1 million rubles, but there are those that are more expensive. It depends on the materials used, decor items and labor costs.
All costumes undergo a specific test drive before use. Participants try them on an infinite number of times, rehearse in them on stage to see if they can breathe and move in them. “There were cases when the participant came on stage and realized that he did not see anything at all. In the first season, we noticed that the artist’s eyes were visible in one of the masks. We urgently had to finish the costume and sew an additional layer of fabric to hide the participant, ”recall the costume designers.
Some costumes are being refined over the course of the show. If the participants lose weight, the costumes have to be sewn constantly. And they are moving – sometimes very actively. In the first season, the soloist of the group “Vintage” Anna Pletneva, who played the role of the Parrot, constantly sat on the twine. The singer’s costume consisted of feathers, it had to be constantly updated, to strengthen the plumage.
At the end of the season, the costumes are not disposed of. They are stored in special trunks and subsequently used in New Year’s issues. We have long had the idea to make an exhibition of costumes, and maybe even a museum of all the costumes of the show “Mask”. I will not disclose all the plans, but I will say that we have been thinking about this for a long time, ”Sumacheva, the general producer of White Media, shared her plans.