Photo courtesy of FX

Photo courtesy of FX

“American Horror Story: Coven”

October 11, 2013

“Coven,” the latest installment in FX’s hit “American Horror Story” franchise, chronicles a multigenerational group of witches (from those that survived the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century, to present day youngsters coming to terms with their powers) as they struggle to keep their skills secret and protect themselves from hostile forces.

Jessica Lange (as Fiona Goode) and Kathy Bates (as Madame LaLaurie) play centuries-old witches with an insatiable thirst for age-defying enhancements, which they acquire through any violent means necessary. On the other end of the spectrum are a group of young witches (played by actresses Emma Roberts, Jamie Brewer, Gabourey Sidibe and Taissa Farmiga) attempting to control and channel their respective powers, which include telekinesis, clairvoyance, the power to act as a human voodoo doll, and the power to kill men simply by having sex with them. The girls are students of the hush-hush witches’ school “Miss Robichaux’s Academy For Exceptional Young Ladies,” which is first overseen by headmistress Cordelia (played by Sarah Paulson) until her ruthless mother, Fiona (Lange) waltzes in to take the reins.

The series premiered Wednesday, October 9 and audiences are already abuzz speculating what sort of danger belies anyone standing in Fiona’s way. One of her nemeses this season will include witch Myrtle Snow (played by longtime “American Horror Story” cast member Frances Conroy), a fiery-haired sorceress who’s look viewers might recognize.

“Diana Vreeland, Grace Coddington, Peggy Guggenheim—those were the figures on our focus board,” says Costume Designer Lou Eyrich of the inspiration behind Myrtle’s eclectically chic wardrobe.

According to Eyrich, “Coven” creator Ryan Murphy not only referenced those style icons while the group brainstormed Myrtle’s look, but he was specific down to her habits and accessories, noting that she should always wear gloves, smoke gold-tipped cigarettes from a vintage cigarette holder, and wear big, odd glasses. “We did a camera test the day before we started principal photography and Ryan decided he wanted her more dramatic,” Eyrich says. “So we had Sunday to fix it! Bob Sparkman, Ken Van Duyne and I hit the thrift stores and eyewear shops and grabbed every quirky bit, maxi dress and cape we could find. Many shops in New Orleans are closed on Sundays or close at 5pm, so we were flying across town.”

In addition to sourcing Myrtle’s dress and cape from vintage stores, Eyrich and her team sourced Myrtle’s shoes and jewelry from Trashy Diva in New Orleans and her gloves from Dorothy Gaspar in Los Angeles. Additionally, Eyrich and her team were inspired by the fashion blog Advanced Style as they strategized Myrtle’s look. Noting Myrtle’s costume as her favorite in “Coven,” Eyrich says executing the look was instrumental in helping actress Frances Conroy to figure out the character. “Franny is a dream and was fine with whatever we chose,” the designer says.

“American Horror Story: Coven” airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FX.

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