Sarah Evelyn Interview: ‘Hollywood’ costume designer
“Hollywood” made sure to put the “golden” in Golden Age of Hollywood. Ryan Murphy’s reimagining of an idyllic, progressive 1940s Tinseltown is an aspirational ideal and it needed the resplendent costumes to match.
“It all started with this idea of the Golden Age of Hollywood, which informed the color palette. It was Hollywood glamour, Golden Age of Hollywood, aspirational. It started with everything being [George] Hurrell-inspired, super glamorous and everything having a golden sheen. So that was the jumping off point for our color palette,” Sarah Evelyn told Gold Derby during our Meet the BTL Experts: Costume Design panel (watch above). “It was like gold, butterscotch, caramel and sort of worked itself into the rest of the rainbow.”
Evelyn, who worked with longtime Murphy costume designer Lou Eyrich on the limited series, turned to some ‘40s classics for inspiration to capture the era’s glamorous vibe, including “Now, Voyager” (1942), “Casablanca” (1944), “The Maltese Falcon” (1941) and “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947). Research for the look of the studio executives of the era, like Ace’s Avis Amberg (Patti LuPone) proved to be a little trickier. “That research was much harder to find because there weren’t iPhones and there weren’t street-style photographers and stuff,” she shared. “[But] Stanley Kubrick took a ton of people in the street in the ‘40s.”
Since “Hollywood” is a mix of reality and fantasy, Evelyn and Eyrich had a lot of freedom in their designs — unless they were recreating an actual moment, like when Hattie McDaniel (Queen Latifah) won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Gone with the Wind” (1939). But they didn’t stick to history when they did their version of the 20th Academy Awards in 1948 in the finale.
Initially, Evelyn and Eyrich had designed costumes in line with the show’s golden palette, but just four days before cameras rolled, Murphy had an epiphany. He wanted a pastel palette to elevate the dreaminess of the show and the ceremony. The younger men were dressed in white tuxes, while Camille (Laura Harrier) and Claire (Samara Weaving) wore shades of creamy pink, and Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec) donned a light yellow dress.
“That palette was a total inspiration of Ryan’s, but it was an inspiration that happened like four days before we were filming that scene with all our principals and all our backgrounds, and we had already started fitting. So it was one of those situations where you’re like, ‘I get it, I’m buying it. Let’s go,’” Evelyn shared. “And then we had four days to basically re-pull, make and fit everyone. That’s the story of the Oscars. We had such an amazing team. It was the kind of thing that you never could’ve pulled off without the entire team being invested in it.”