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Behind the Best Part of Netflix’s ‘Hollywood’

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30.04.2020
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Ryan Murphy‘s Hollywood is an alternate history of Tinseltown in its Golden Age, a fantasy narrative in which the underdogs and the minorities win the respect they never got in our own timeline. Now we are able to relive the glamour of the 1940s while watching a wildly different story than we’re used to.

The worldbuilding is what makes the Netflix Original so enjoyable. That period of Hollywood seems so unreachable and unreplicable, but costume designers Sarah Evelyn and Lou Eyrich do the impossible. I got to pick their brains about how they recreated the era through what the characters wear on screen.

What was your research like for recreating the era?

Lou Eyrich: Sarah did all the work! [laughs] No, I had just come off of Ratched [Murphy’s upcoming series about the nurse from One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest], which is about the same time period. So, we carried over a lot of that research. I had a lot of books and other research, but that series takes place on the East Coast. This was Hollywood, so it was a whole different kind of research.

Sarah hired a historical researcher in New York who sent us amazing research that we weren’t finding here in the research libraries or online. There are a lot of books on Hollywood in the 1940s, including what Sarah and I have in our libraries. There are a lot of black and white photos, but it’s hard to find color photos.

Ryan Murphy had a very specific color palette that he wanted, so we kind of followed that anyway. That color palette did shift a bit when Sarah designed the Oscar episodes because we were trying to replicate it for the factual characters. Sarah really had to dig deep for color photographs for that.

Sarah Evelyn: We were lucky to have Lou come off a ’40s show because I definitely got the cliff notes. I did have to somewhat immerse myself in that era in order to make sure all that information made it into our show. Lou and Ryan have worked together, and Ryan has a lot of direction. Between their conversations, a lot of that gets refined and we get down to the old Hollywood color palette. It kind of started at gold and then we brought in some harvest tones. Then, Ryan was very specific about colors with specific characters.

Going back to research, I watched an endless number of movies. Even when I was doing something else, I would have a movie on in the background at home or at work. It helped me inundate myself with it. We also printed out all of our reference photos and covered all our walls with them in the fitting room so we felt like we were in an Instagram account of old Hollywood.

Lou Eyrich: She wallpapered the place! It was great.

Did you look at any specific designers from the 1940s, or did you take a broader approach to the fashions?

Sarah Evelyn: It was both. Especially because costume designers were so influential in the fashion of the period. Ryan is a really big fan of those costume designers. We looked at Adrian [Adolph Greenburg] a lot. We looked at George Hurrell’s photos a lot. We looked at the movies and the big costume designers of the time, like Edith Head and Walter Plunket.

Our researchers had access to Conde Nast archives but also written research as well. It........

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