Bow down to the king of killer TV, because he’s done it again. Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy returns to FOX this fall with Scream Queens, a new horror-comedy series about twisted sorority sisters, "the Chanels" (Emma Roberts, Abigail Breslin, Ariana Grande, Billie Lourd), and misfit pledges (Lea Michele, Keke Palmer) whose campus is terrorised by a string of spooky murders at the hands of a devil-faced killer. Costume designer Lou Eyrich, a longtime collaborator of Murphy’s, gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the killer fashion closets of this all-star cast of coeds. PS: Nick Jonas plays a frat boy.
Keep reading for the exclusive interview with costume designer Lou Eyrich, and don’t miss Scream Queens Tuesdays at 9/8c on FOX.
Scream Queens is a candy-coated slasher satire set on the fictional campus of Wallace University. The show's creator, Ryan Murphy, even called it a "Heathers meets Friday the 13th" horror comedy. What drew you to the material? “Ryan Murphy pitched the idea to me last fall, and it sounded like a fun, creative project. And the cast lineup was amazing. It was a no-brainer decision!”
You're styling the sorority girls of Kappa Kappa Tau. Did you pull inspiration from the wardrobes of your own pledge past? “I knew nothing about sororities when I began the research process! But then, this is no normal sorority. Ryan wanted all pastels, so that certainly set the tone. I started this project on the heels of AHS: Freak Show, which was 1940s/’50s and faded and bloody. So SQ was so much fun to jump into.”
With an all-star cast leading the series, from Emma Roberts and Lea Michele to Nick Jonas and Jamie Lee Curtis (all hail), how does the Scream Queens cast set itself apart from the ensembles on Glee and American Horror Story? “Glee is the most similar project to SQ, in terms of a young cast. But SQ has a heightened sense of style, both for the Chanels and for the pledges. SQ is unique costume-wise as the costumes are meant to stick out, sometimes in a comical way, rather than simply define a character without pulling focus.”
There's a fair amount of killer (pun intended) dialogue on the show. How do you get each character's style to stand out? “The costumes are not based on reality, clearly, but help to separate the in crowd from the out crowd.”
Judging by their wardrobe, the Chanels subscribe to a very specific uniform of pastels, pearls, and power. What brings it all together? “I would say the colour palette (macarons were my inspiration). We tried to have the Chanels match whenever in a group, to make it really pop and be even more absurd. I would add that the accessories were the signature pieces—always dripping in pearls or rhinestones or earmuffs.”
On to the Kappa Kappa Tau closet: You pretty much brought the mall to a sorority house. What made you think of it, and what trends are hanging on the racks? “Clueless was a big one. Old ads from Juicy Couture. I looked at the trends for Fall 15 and Spring 16.”
Were you able to tell Chanels #1, #2, #3, and #5 apart at first? (Find out what happened to #4 on Tuesday, Septemeber 22!) “There’s a fine line here. It took a while to define it!"
Emma Roberts plays Chanel Oberlin, the deceptively chic (and sometimes scary) president of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority. How does her wardrobe rule the squad? “Chanel #1 is the queen, so we used feathers, fur, pearls, and big heels—always a notch above, costume-wise.”
Abigail Breslin plays Chanel #5, the calculating, "most likely to be a Stepford" sorority sister. What does she love to wear? “Chanel #5 is more refined, in a pastel sort of way: a touch of class, pencil skirts, form-fitting ensembles with pearls.”
Pop star Ariana Grande returns to the small screen as Chanel #2, the lesser of the four "evil" sorority sisters. She loyally serves her fellow Chanels with a bubblegum sweetness. How does her wardrobe counter her character's personality? “Chanel #2 showed a lot of skin, midriff, short skirts. She’s sassy.”
Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) is the acting consigliere to Roberts’s Chanel #1. Even though she’s wearing earmuffs in almost every scene, something tells us she’s always listening. Describe her look. “Chanel #3 was willing to go a bit goofy—mixing it up with earmuffs, loads of jewels, always overdressed.”
Lea Michele’s character, Hester, has a neck up on the other girls (so to speak). What did you love about her character? “Lea was so game to take Hester to an unrecognizable level of strangeness. We had so much fun playing with this look. It was tricky, as we had both ‘created’ the look for Rachel on Glee and wanted to make sure Hester was unique.”
Was it difficult styling with a neck brace? “The neck brace actually enhanced the look and made it easier to define the character’s costumes.”
Keke Palmer’s character, Zayday, is the brain of the pledge crew. But is she fashion-conscious the way the other girls are? “Ryan wanted Zayday to have style—street style like you see on The Sartorialist. She’s smart, sassy, cool, and could run for school president. Keke wears clothes beautifully, so we had a lot of fun playing with mixing vintage with Topshop and adding a quirky shoe that didn’t match but looked killer on her!”