Everybody comes to Hollywood.
Madonna’s lyric rings truer than ever in Ryan Murphy’s latest limited series on Netflix. Titled “Hollywood,” Murphy and co-creator Ian Brennan take a look at post-war Tinsel Town in the 1940s as they follow a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers. But there’s a twist, the show examines decades-old power dynamics and what the entertainment landscape might have looked like if they had been dismantled. Think a female studio head, an openly gay male star and the leading lady being a woman of color.
It’s a clear ode to the golden age of Hollywood, and according to costume designer Sarah Evelyn, glitz and glam was a key marker for the era. But as the show follows those looking to “make it,” you’ll see a clear difference between the haves and have-nots in the wardrobe.
“We leaned into the glamour with golden tones,” Evelyn said. “That expanded into harvest tones — butterscotch caramels, pastels, forest green and black and whites. It was very rich and warm. For the haves, the wealthy, it was elevated with color-blocking. And for people with less money, it was much more textured and we’d reuse their closets.”
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Going back to the 1940s was a serious undertaking, but Evelyn found guidance with longtime Murphy-collaborator and costume designer Lou Eyrich. (Eyrich helped establish the vision with Murphy while prepping with Evelyn and working the on pilot before Evelyn took the helm.)The designer duo had worked together in the past on Murphy’s other shows, “American Horror Story: Cult” and “Hotel,” making this another successful collaboration.
“We had the complete same aesthetic,” said Eyrich, “and we were particular about every button, every pocket stitch, lapels, belt buckles.”
“Over the years, Lou has really complied a long list of resources, which is what is amazing about this collaboration,” added Evelyn. The two began working about eight weeks before production, putting together mood boards and photo libraries of inspiration. Old films, such as “Women of the Year,” starring Katharine Hepburn, “Dark Passage” with Humphrey Bogart, “Double Indemnity” and “All About Eve,” proved to be a strong influence for the wardrobe.
Starring Laura Harrier as Camille, Samara Weaving as Claire, Dylan McDermott as Ernie, Holland Taylor as Ellen Kincaid, Patti LuPone as Avis, many of the actors’ were committed to collaborate, too.
Taylor, for instance, had a big input, according to the designers. The actress looked at old photos of her mother and grandparents for outfit ideas. “She really thinks about it down to the nylons and the shoes,” said Eyrich. “In one of her outfits, we made for her based on a photo of her mom where she was wearing a Georg Jenson silver brooch, we got her a similar one. She put it on and it was emotional. She felt it deeply,” added Evelyn.
For Lupone’s character, it was all about showing old Hollywood glam. Her looks were inspired by Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford. “She can pull off a costume,” said Evelyn. “She’s willing to take risks and wear the traditional undergarments. She just gives it her all and doesn’t even have any pause.”
Being set in post-World War II, some challenges came about in terms of footwear. During that time period, shoes were made narrower and smaller. Eyrich said using real pairs will fall apart due to hard leather but she had sourced many replicas through the years and would put hard soles on the bottoms to preserve them or shoe clips, rhinestones and bows in order to change the look.
Plus, Eyrich had also just come off of the upcoming “Ratched” (another Murphy-Netflix series), which is set in the 1940s, allowing her to stockpile and carry over costumes.
From incredible suiting, extravagant gowns, furs, hats and jewelry, the looks prove that there’s no doubt the audience is in the golden age. Take a look through the gallery,” and tune into the series on Netflix, starting Friday, May 1.