Emmys: Lady Gaga's Signature Gloves on 'AHS: Hotel' Were Designed With 11,000 Swarovski Crystals

7:30 AM 8/22/2016

by Cathy Whitlock

That's just one secret revealed as six Emmy-nominated costume designers dissect some of the creative decisions they made in bringing the Countess, Marcia Clark, music moguls and two beloved musical characters to life.

  • The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)

    Hala Bahmet

    Ray Mickshaw/FX

    "The sheer number of period costumes was extraordinary. We created almost 2,000 speaking-role costumes and an additional 3,000 background extras costumes for only 10 episodes. All of them were head to toe, including accessories. Many of our primary cast costumes were custom-made, including shirts and ties and smaller detailed items like custom-engraved cuff links and monogrammed handkerchiefs. For Marcia Clark [Sarah Paulson], we matched her palette and silhouette to the courtroom footage, while at other times we deviated from the historic record to create unique costumes to fit the narrative of our timeline. Marcia is so complex, her journey and experiences during the trial were so profound, and we worked to portray her character and costumes in the context of the drama unfolding in each scene. Regarding color, Marcia started with darker, understated power suiting. Due to media and tabloid scrutiny, she moved toward wearing more color as well as pastel tones for a softer look. It's notable that Marcia's color palette lightened up as the trial progressed. Clark herself referred to this shift as the 'pastelization' period."

  • Empire (Fox)

    Paolo Nieddu

    Courtesy of FOX

    "I really tried to push boundaries with the fashion on season two — going further and staying interesting and inspiring. The opening scene of our premiere is an epic moment for Lucious [Terrence Howard] — he's giving a Great Gatsby vibe, and he looks stunning. Serayah McNeill [as Tiana] performs in a latex cat suit, which was pretty incredible on her, and of course Cookie [Taraji P. Henson] had an amazing fur coat from Marco Di Vincenzo that is everything. I love 1st Dibs for vintage designer accessories and clothes; I'm always scrolling through the site on my phone. For Cookie, I use Fendi and Moschino, and Judith Leiber lets me borrow some amazing bags. Armani and Zegna are great for Lucious, as well as custom suits by David August. Kimberly McDonald, Stephen Dweck, Alexis Bittar, Jennifer Fisher and KJL are all amazing brands whose pieces I love to use."

  • Grace and Frankie (Netflix)

    Allyson B. Fanger

    Courtesy of Netflix

    "One of our goals was to highlight the stark contrast between the two ladies. They are diametrically opposed in so many ways and find themselves in the same house. Grace [Jane Fonda] was given a color palette of tan, cream, gray and a little bit of black, and over time, we added some really nice printed blouses because of Frankie's [Lily Tomlin] influence. For Frankie, we used an artist type of layered look for inspiration with a palette of desert colors: sand, burnt orange, earthy brown and green. Grace wore off-the-rack Armani, Carolina Herrera, St. John's and Ralph Lauren with a lot of cashmere from Margaret O'Leary, while Frankie wore Harari; Adina Mills also created the one-of-a-kind crystal jewelry items that truly are her signature pieces."

  • American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

    Lou Eyrich

    Suzanne Tenner/FX

    "Lady Gaga is a such a style icon. We built a core closet for her [character, The Countess, a vampire] because of the blood, and then a lot of wonderful designers loaned us items — Thierry Mugler, Vivienne Westwood — and we even borrowed items from Gaga's own archives, such as a white Alexander McQueen dress. Jeweler Michael Schmidt used 11,000 Swarovski crystals in designing her silver gloves. The biggest challenge was trying to make the old look new. We wanted to incorporate a lot of vintage — we did one episode with a lot of flashbacks to the '20s, '70s and '80s. We had over 2,000 costumes, and then everything had to be in multiples due to blood [splatter] — so we needed not one dress but three."

  • Grease: Live (Fox)

    William Ivey Long

    Courtesy of FOX

    "The artist Jean-Michel Basquiat influenced the color schemes; I would pick different paintings for each scene — such as the prom and carnival — based on that. I did 400 costumes altogether, and they were a combination of vintage and custom made. For the 'Greased Lightning' transformation, Danny [Aaron Tveit] comes into shop class and all the guys are covered in oil rags around their necks. Danny says, 'You can really do something with this car.' They go into this dream sequence and their coveralls magically become the same silver and blue color of the fixed-up T-Bird, and then they go back to their original coveralls. Those guys were so athletic and danced in three layers of breakaway coveralls. They did it on live TV and ripped away [the costumes] in four seconds. I had to make sure they had their dirty matching Rorschach grease spots under each layer."

  • The Wiz Live! (NBC)

    Paul Tazewell

    Courtesy of NBC

    "I was easily affected by the Broadway version [of The Wiz] and Geoffrey Holder's work and the film version that came after that. I ended up designing a high school production of the musical in 11th grade, and it would be part of my design energy for most of my life. Co-director Kenny Leon wanted it to feel like a fresh approach to the telling of The Wizard of Oz story that is modern and seeing it through the lens of a teenager of today. Dorothy [Shanice Williams] is dressed in a plaid skirt informed by the checkered dress Judy Garland wore in the 1939 film, and I tried to bring all those images together. For the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion, each was a pastiche of what we know of those characters and what would feel more modern. The Scarecrow was dressed in a navy blue suit. I used Basquiat as a point of reference for his energy. Kenny wanted the Tin Man looking more like a classic factory worker-type, which I realized as a patchwork of tin that had been riveted together. The Lion had no clothing, so I added a vest to make him feel somewhat fashion-forward."