Mai Ling is going on a bit of a sartorial journey in season three too. “We start the season off classic because we have to remind the audience because it’s been so many years. But then she just veers off,” Doan shares. “In season two, I was used to all of the greens, browns, blacks, maybe a very dark navy blue, and all of a sudden, they’re pulling out bright blues, pinks, and light purples.”
From the get-go, Warrior has been praised for its costume design. With Moira Anne Meyer at the helm and a team of talented local craftsmen, the show has put out enough noteworthy looks to fill entire warehouses. But it’s with its alluring female leads, particularly Mai Ling and brothel madam Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng), where the bold design work really shines. Think 1870s-inspired looks with contemporary touches.
Doan says she has a fondness for Mai Ling’s classic warrior garb. “As soon as that shift happened in power, I called it my uniform. It was full leather, a lot of buckling details, and even my posture changes. As soon as I’m strapped in, it zips up, and my whole body, my shoulders are up and back. It’s the most incredible feeling,” she says. Beautiful and powerful, yes, but definitely not practical. In the Cape Town summer, where temperatures regularly reach 95° to 100° Fahrenheit, Doan says the suit becomes a “sweatsuit sauna.”
For a character that is never allowed to wear the same costume twice and is often wearing three to four looks an episode, Doan is in the costume department the most out of anyone. She guesstimates Mai Ling has upwards of 50 costumes this season alone. “My favorite thing is going in the costume room and just flipping through the Mai Ling rack,” she says.