January 17, 2014
ABC’s dark new drama “Killer Women” centers on Molly Parker (played by actress Tricia Helfer), a Texas ranger whose intuition is instrumental in helping her to track a slew of intriguing criminals. Formerly a state trooper, Molly has just been promoted to a ranger, in addition to balancing a divorce from her estranged husband and cavorting with DEA agent Dan Winston (played by actor Marc Blucas).
In addition to developing the overall look for the series’ heroine, Costume Designer Wendy Greiner was tasked with dressing a wild spectrum of femme fatales. One of the most memorable ensembles she’s designed this season was for serial killer Carmen Garza (played by actress Paola Turbay), a struggling singer performing on the small town bar and club circuit.
“We find out during the course of the episode that she was abused by her mother as a child, always being told she wasn’t pretty. So we discover that this person is craving attention, recognition, and love that she never received from her jealous and abominable mom,” Greiner explains. “As Carmen struggles with this rejection, she attacks anyone who is disrespectful of her while on stage or that she finds more beautiful than her. Her victims are women, and she shaves all off their hair and then dresses them as men to make them ugly.”
One of Carmen’s most dramatic scenes, she is featured in her private salon, (a sort of “lair” that features a private stage, according to Greiner).
“She is transforming herself to her version of the most mesmerizing look for stage—and beside her in the lair she has her latest victim. For this I wanted to build a really special piece since she is at the climax of her character arc,” Greiner says. “Because she was a serial killer, I was trying to find a way to highlight all of her ‘trophies’ from previous victims. And it needed to be somewhat pretty, but also have a level of insanity to it as well—so I came up with the idea of a hair cape.”
The designer worked with tailor Deb Anderson and key costumer Gordon Tribble, (who’s been trained as a hair stylist), to create the cape. Five wigs and several packages of extensions were used to signify the scalped hair of Carmen’s victims. These were fixed to a black bolero jacket, which served as the cape’s under piece. The team implemented various types and braided selections of hair, as well as sequined lace trim, eye of peacock feathers, pheasant tails, and “strands of Swarovski crystal by the yard, to add dimension and depth to the cape,” Greiner says. Carmen’s accessories included an oversized necklace and a pair of earrings that matched the cape’s aurora borealis crystals, to ramp up the drama and symbolize the character’s intense emotional state.
To provide contrast to the dark and eerie cape, and with the knowledge that the lair setting would be very dark, Greiner says she wanted “some type of colorful and reflective dress that would be something that would be appropriate for stage.” She worked with Bobbi Constantine at Western Costume to track down a hot pink sequin gown and hoped that the size would work for her actress. “We did have to clean up the built in bra, [produced in the] late 60’s I would guess, and make some slight alterations to it, so that ‘Carmen’ felt confident and sexy. With all of her looks, she really came to life in them,” Greiner says.
“So as luck had it, along with an amazing tailor, the scheduling gods on our side to get all of the parts and pieces together, we pulled it off. Faith in the process and a lot of hard work with my team made it happen. Now, let’s see how much screen time it gets, since that episode has yet to air!”
“Killer Women” airs on ABC Tuesdays at 10pm/9pm c.