Costume Design Panel: Megan Stark Evans, Lou Eyrich, Susan Lyall
“It’s a great panel because our [movies] are all so different … and listening to you both, you had a completely different process than I did,” observed costume designer Lou Eyrich when comparing her work on “The Prom” to Susan Lyall‘s costumes in “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and Megan Stark Evans‘ designs for “Sound of Metal.” The three compared notes about their different challenges and inspirations during our “Meet the Experts” panel. Watch our group discussion above, and click each name above to watch their individual interviews separate from this group panel.
“Susan, your having to be so precise to an actual event and being able to put your own signature on it is great,” Eyrich added, “and Megan having to create these characters out of nothing — you had to design the whole concept of each character within a budget.” Those two approaches were quite different, and yet Eyrich’s experience was unlike either of them. “For me for ‘The Prom’ … it was already a Broadway play, but we were remaking it the Ryan Murphy way. I hadn’t shopped contemporary for years, so that was a big shift for me … It was really fun, but also really challenging because I forgot if it’s not in the store, you’ve got to make it, and that’s a bigger, longer process, especially with all the sequins and beading and stuff.”
Unlike the musical-theater extravagance of “The Prom,” Lyall had to stay true to the grounded realism of a real-life legal battle that took place half a century ago. But she also worked with a director who had quite a different aesthetic approach to the costumes. “I know that Ryan Murphy weighs in significantly. But [‘Trial’ director] Aaron Sorkin does not really weigh in,” Lyall explained. “I don’t mean this to sound like he’s not opinionated. He is. And we communicate with photos back and forth and he will say which one he doesn’t like … but if you give him too many he gets dizzy.” For Lyall and Evans alike, it helped working with directors who were also the writers of their films “because they really know what they meant when they wrote it. You don’t have to second-guess,” Lyall noted.
Evans worked well with “Sound of Metal” writer-director Darius Marder in creating the wardrobes for down-on-their-luck characters in the modern heavy metal rock scene: “He had a great idea of who these people were or at least an idea of what their backstories were. And I love a backstory, something I can dig into and come up with my own ideas about what they might wear,” Evans said. “Sound of Metal” was also a smaller-scale production, so the budget was a challenge, but “the nice thing is you don’t have all these different entities weighing in like you do in bigger things.”
It goes to show that no matter the film, there are always different roadblocks for costume designers to overcome, but different creative opportunities as well.