There are TV shows, and then there is WandaVision, a surreal superhero love story wrapped up in a mind-boggling mystery that also takes place in a faux TV show that’s an ode to sitcom history (whew). Disney+’s newest hit show is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, yet also oddly familiar while still being incredibly bizarre in the best way possible. And, thanks to the fact that every episode takes place in a different decade, it also happens to have some of the most imaginative hair and makeup looks currently gracing our TV screens.
For the uninitiated, the show is a Marvel Cinematic Universe joint that follows the MCU’s star crossed lovers, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff (a.k.a. Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany’s Vision, as they move to the idyllic New Jersey town of Westview to live out their new lives in matrimonial bliss. Except, one big hiccup (and, obviously, spoiler alerts galore here, so stop reading if you haven’t watched the show): Neither of them know how they got there or have any real memory of their lives before arriving in Westview. As the show evolves, we begin to learn the cause of this so-called Westview Anomaly and are given a look at the outside world and the government team investigating it, unofficially led by Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau.
Each episode has them experiencing a new decade in television history, with the wardrobe, set pieces, hair, makeup, and overall visual style of that era being painstakingly re-created. The team behind those incredibly detailed beauty looks is led by makeup department head Tricia Sawyer and hair department head Karen Bartek. While the pair worked with Olsen on Avengers: Infinity War, this project was a far cry from recreating her signature Scarlet Witch look. Not only did the two have to come up with period looks for all of the actors, they also had to adjust their techniques to correspond with the vintage technology being used—black and white cameras, for instance, or the Technicolor shift in the ’60s episode.
“It was a very challenging, very hard job and one we couldn’t have done without our director Matt Shakman,” says Sawyer. “He knew this story inside and out. He was so approachable, and we could ask him anything.” That said, it was also a job both seasoned pros relished and seemed to have a blast doing. “For makeup and hair, this was a dream job,” says Sawyer. “This is what you’re holding all of your skills for, just to unleash at some point. I had an arsenal of stuff that I wanted to use, but that I hadn’t been able to use on anything else, because you don’t ever get this opportunity.”
According to Bartek, Olsen was also heavily involved in the creation of Wanda’s looks—the actor did extensive research on the classic sitcoms that inspired the show and used that knowledge to collaborate with the team. “She was very open to suggestions because she’s never done a period piece,” says Bartek. “It was really a collaboration in that we would show her things and she would say can we move it more this way or that way, and then once we got it, I think that really helped get her in character—she really felt like she was in that era.”