Perhaps more than any other television debut this fall, the much-hyped Fox series "Scream Queens" calls for a deep dive into the costumes. First of all, there's extensive sartorial potential behind the college sorority-set slasher comedy (think "Mean Girls" meets "Halloween") from Ryan Murphy, the visionary behind "Glee" and the "American Horror Story" anthologies. And considering that the ruling class of Kappa Kappa Tau is comprised of girls all named "Chanel," it's a no-brainer that the outfits are going to be killer. There are five Chanels in all, including the preeminent bitch on campus Ms. Oberlin (Emma Roberts), number two portrayed by donut-aficionado Ariana Grande, and the fifth — yes, there's a Chanel No. 5 — is played by Abigail Breslin.
Here's a quick synopsis: The Greek system-loathing dean, who's ominously dressed in all black and, in a genius casting move, played by horror movie icon Jamie Lee Curtis, proclaims that the Kappas must accept any woman who applies. This means that even a sartorially challenged student — like Lea Michele's cat T-shirt and neck brace-wearing Hester — may become an esteemed sister. Throw in a 20-year-old mystery, a sadistic, devil-masked slasher, biting social commentary and costumes courtesy of Lou Eyrich, who just won her second Emmy for "American Horror Story," and you have a surefire hit. With "Scream Queens," Eyrich found the perfect opportunity to combine her past experiences, as she's worked closely with Murphy designing costumes for all of the William McKinley High School cliques on "Glee" and the diverse looks for all five seasons of the "American Horror Story" franchise — from the creepy Rubber Man on "Murder House" to a squad of witches on "Coven."
In between fitting Lady Gaga and Matt Bomer on set of the next "American Horror Story" installment "Hotel," the very busy Eyrich took some time out to discuss how the former Style.com (now Vogue Runway) played an integral role in dressing the Chanels, the technical aspects of the blood red slasher devil costume and the genesis behind Lea Michele's very non-Rachel Berry "stoner nerd" look.
How did you use costumes to differentiate between the Kappas and the pledges?
The Kappa girls are all in pastels and, in theory, very expensive clothes — although we have a TV budget, so we had to get creative. They are really put together: perfectly coiffed, nails done, shoes matching the outfits and makeup done pristinely. That whole polished look, which is completely unrealistic on a college campus, and high heels at all times. Their robes are each embroidered with the name "Chanel," and there are a lot of pearls, rhinestones and feather boa dresses. The regular Kappa pledges were supposed to be like misfits [at first], but then we decided that we wanted the audience to really respond to them. So we [dressed] them in regular street wear, but stylish, so that regular people would want to dress like them as well.
The Chanels look very cohesive. Where did you find for inspiration for their looks?
These girls would watch what's going on on Style.com. They're up on what's happening on the runways and then they emulate it. So I went on Style.com a lot and just really researched what's happening in the fashion world right now — especially for the fall. Then because Ryan [Murphy] wanted everything pastel, we had to do our own interpretation. I definitely looked to Jeremy Scott for Moschino because he has such a fun, youthful twist on [fashion]. Definitely Chanel, too, of course — those were the two main ones that I personally used.
You mentioned you had to get creative with the TV budget. Where did you find all the pieces?
Everywhere. We would order Chanel, Gucci, Valentino, Fendi... all of the designers — whatever we could find at resale shops and online that we could afford for television. And we would mix those pieces with a belt from Topshop or a skirt from Zara. It was really hard because they were in pastels. Pretty much everywhere we would go, we would stake out where we could find a pink pastel coat and a yellow feathered skirt. It was really a treasure hunt. We made a ton of stuff as well because there were many times we wanted all the girls to be matching. So we would just make [the pieces] and each girl would have the same color, but a different silhouette.
Where did you find inspiration for Lea Michele as the awkward pledge, Hester?
At the beginning of "Glee," Lea Michele played a nerd, so we wanted to make sure she... was a different character. So we started with high-waisted baggy jeans and big high top sneakers; then we found T-shirts with cat designs on them and all of her jackets were from thrift stores. The nylon track jackets and the puppy coats, those were all found at goodwills or thrift stores in New Orleans. And then the other look we did was a "stoner nerd" — old floral peasant skirts with Doc Martens and an old army jacket. Then you throw that neck brace on it and it's a whole other level. We did her hair long and parted down the middle, so it just gave us that great nerdy stoner look.
What about the inspiration behind Skyler Samuels' pledge character, Grace? She looks like she could have been one of the Kappa sisters.
We had several fittings on her trying to find who Grace was — we made her a little bit nerdier at first, but Ryan wanted her more stylized. It was a fine line because she's so pretty. How do we not make her look like the Kappa girls? So we gave her more of that "street" style: She's not quite matching but looks cute anyway, like the little shirt with pineapple embroidery under a printed sweater, a suede skirt, cool boots and then a hat. Most of her hats came from Goorin Bros.
What was it like dressing Ariana Grande as Chanel Number Two?
She was adorable and she was game for anything — that was really fun, too. I had very little time with her because she was so busy with her tour. She flew in, we fit her the day before she worked and she went, 'Oh, I love everything!' She had a great stylist that worked with me; her inspiration was pretty much like the Chanels, but because her hair is dark, we made her a little bit more sassy.
What was your inspiration behind dressing Jamie Lee Curtis as Dean Cathy Munsch?
We're all in love with Jamie Lee Curtis, she's awesome. Ryan wanted her all in black to just look very authoritative and cool, but he did not want her to look frumpy or too masculine. We tried to give her that hip tailored look, to just play against the typical role of dean of a college. So we used Rag & Bone, Band of Outsiders and a lot of The Row.
What about the frat boys in the Dickie Dollar Scholars, including Nick Jonas, who plays Boone?
Again, Ryan wanted them very "fraternity chic" — so stylized — and even then he wanted a lot of pastels, so that all of the popular people on campus wear pastels. He also wanted them to have old-school cardigan sweaters, ties and sweater vests with colored moccasins. It was very put together, and again, not based in reality at all.
How did you create the devil slasher costume?
I worked with special effects artist David Anderson who's done a lot of stuff with us on "American Horror Story." He actually did the mask and the chest plate and we did everything [else]: the boots, the cape, the undergarments and the gloves. We worked closely together to make the costume very slick and you really couldn't tell who was under it. We built muscle pads into it, so it could be a man or it could be a woman.