“There’s never ever any real fur in the show, for sure; we tried to use leather as little as possible and just tried to make sure that everything that we did was really done with eco-consciousness,” Cynthia Ann Summers reveals in an exclusive interview with Gold Derby (watch the video above) about how she moved the imaginative wardrobe of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” toward veganism and sustainability. Summers took over as costume designer for the second season of the adaptation of the children’s book series by Lemony Snicket, which she says is “as far from practical reality as could be.” Her efforts earned the show its back-to-back Emmy nominations for Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, including the one announced last week for the third and final season.
Some of its real costumes recently featured inside the entrance to a five-week exhibit by Netflix for Emmy voters. “Of course, everyone wants to see the octopus dress,” Summers reveals about one that she selected for display. She explains that the “fantastic and physically large” getup exemplifies how costuming Lucy Punch‘s character Esmé Squalor proved to be “the toughest.” She adds about its prominence in the Los Angeles activation, “The octopus one is a tricky one because it’s actually inflated, so anything that’s inflated is going to deflate over time and also just because it’s latex, there’s a degree of degradation over time as well, so that one was nerve-wracking because it was a long exhibit and I was just worried that if they weren’t taking care of pumping that thing up, it was just going to look terrible.” Esmé dons the dress in the “Grim Grotto” episodes, which actually contain Summers’s “least favorite” costumes (the diving suits), so she and her team instead submitted their work on the penultimate episode of the series, based on “Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril,” for Emmy consideration because of “the scope of it and how many characters showed up in this episode.”
Summers will be eligible next year for a third consecutive Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes nomination with the upcoming second season of “Altered Carbon,” which also shot for Netflix around Vancouver where Summers is based. She is currently costuming the upcoming Netflix series “The Baby-Sitters Club,” which precluded her from working on the reboot of “The L Word,” for which she costumed all six seasons of the original run on Showtime. “It’s a bit sad; it was hard — I had to emotionally work through that,” she laughs about having “to pass on that.”
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