We previously ran articles on the disturbing truth behind costumes from The Next Generation and Troi’s cleavage. Well, let’s keep the series going with one of the most famous Star Trek uniforms of all time: Seven of Nine’s costume from Voyager. We decided the catsuit deserved its own entry, and here it is. Find out how actress Jeri Ryan suffered to look so beautiful.
1. It Made Her Pass Out
In her first appearance, Seven of Nine appeared as a full Borg drone. When Ryan first put on her Borg uniform, the costume designers apparently didn’t take the prosthetics into account. As a result, the collar kept pressing on her carotid artery, cutting off blood flow to the brain if she turned her head. It made her pass out on the set on at least two occasions.
2. She Couldn’t Breathe
The first thing you notice about Jeri Ryan’s silver catsuit is that it’s tight. Really tight. The official explanation was that the catsuit was made of a revolutionary fabric that helped her skin regenerate. Translation: they wanted the costume to look as tight as possible. The producers wanted her uniform to look like a second skin, and they got it. In Starlog magazine #249 she said, “if I got goosebumps, you could see them.” In fact, it was so tight, she had trouble breathing. It got so bad that they had nurses on the set with oxygen tanks. “It was so tight originally that I passed out four times,” Ryan told USA Today in 1997. “They would bring nurses to the set with oxygen, and I wouldn’t say anything. But after the fourth time passing out, I spoke up.”
That made them finally loosen it up.
3. The Breasts Were Constructed
|Seven of Nine’s corset underneath the catsuit|
The other thing you notice about the catsuit are the boobs. Let’s face it, they look incredible, and there’s a reason. Since the fabric was supposed to look like skin, they didn’t want the fabric to do what it would naturally do, which is stretch from “high point to high point” (i.e. from one nipple to the other). That’s why they made what the costume designer called “breast mounds,” individual shapes on her catsuit for each of her breasts. It took a special construction of the corset, what Ryan called a “feat of engineering” to achieve it.
4. The Corset Kept Her From Bending
The other distinctive aspect of Seven of Nine’s silver costume is the vertical ribs running along the sides. The in universe explanation for them is that they’re leftovers from her Borg implants, mechanical ribs. In reality, they were just there to disguise her corset. Because the catsuit was so tight, they included a corset to give her a more hourglass shape. With the ribs built into the corset, she couldn’t even bend over or sit comfortably. She was relieved when they introduced the brown catsuit which had a thicker fabric, taking away the need for the corset.
5. Bathroom Breaks Took 20 Minutes
Besides everything we’ve gone over, the worst part is Ryan couldn’t take off the costume without help. That meant bathroom breaks were an ordeal so bad that they had to shut down the set. She said, “If I had to go to the bathroom it was a 20-minute production shutdown.”
“Forget vanity, throw vanity to the wind!” Ryan recalled. “And you can forget anything about privacy because it ain’t gonna happen. Anytime I have to go to the bathroom, everybody has to know about it. It’s announced over the P.A. system, because production stops for a half-hour. ‘We can’t roll a shot. Jeri’s not here.’ ‘Why not, where’s Jeri?’ ‘Jeri has to go 10-100.’ It’s just a whole procedure.”
Then they started just taking the catsuit off after every take.
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What did you think of Seven of Nine?