Costume Designer Audrey Fisher Shares Her Creative Inspirations
The script for this episode literally calls you out by name to come up with a great outfit for Debbie for her fight scene. How’s that for pressure?
Yeah, I read the script and thought, "Wow, it's on. I have to come up with the most bad-ass biker look ever." When I first started conceptualizing it, it was easy to go crazy and think of something kind of glamorous and sexy and edgy. But what I had to remember was that this girl is like a meth addict – she's addicted to V and she's a hot mess. So I really had to reel it in and make it super trashy, because that's who Debbie Pelt is. Also, I had to keep in mind that this was a pretty drag-out fight, so the costume had to be prepared for anything. I had a jacket custom-made with this red Japanese vinyl that's washed back until it looks all mottled and weird. It's got these great biker details like top-stitched elbow patches and an interesting collar. I wanted something different than black leather, so this washed red was perfect. And it gave her the freedom of movement to throw punches and have padding on her elbows.
What's it like to design costumes for a show that's notorious for its cast wearing nothing at all?
Of course, I always get the joke, "Must be easy to design the costumes since everybody's always naked ..." But the reality is that even though the nakedness makes such a huge impression, they're really not naked that often. In fact, I have to create costumes for them all the time -- and they have to be really iconic and memorable because they'll be wearing it for like three episodes ... and then taking it all off and having sex.
In Charlaine Harris' books, Sookie's outfits are often meticulously described- are there any cues you can take from that detail?
I try to capture that small-town cuteness that Charlaine describes so well, that sort of cute hotness where she doesn't quite realize how hot she is. She's really curvy and wearing things that she's kind of busting out of, but she doesn't quite get that it's a little more seductive than she realizes.
Of all the characters, Lafayette has the most unique and out-there taste, how do you figure out what he'll concoct next?
First of all, working with Nelsan is amazing. He just doesn't hold anything back – even in the fitting room. He walks in as this quiet, shy actor with glasses, and then all the sudden he's all snappy and posing. I typically start with the script. I'll usually try to come up with a theme for his mood, and then I just go for it. Like with that black satin, kind of Chinese top that he wore … He was feeling kind of amazing – he had just gotten this fantastic car – so he put on a really hot outfit. That piece started out as a woman's dress I found in Chinatown in L.A., and I shortened it for him to use as a shirt.
Pam is another one who takes her personal style very seriously. When she's standing in front of her closet, what's her thought process?
Pam loves to look fantastic. She knows the power of her body and likes to use it as a weapon. What we imagine is that Pam always likes to play a part. She's been alive so long and been dressing for centuries, and now she's really made it into a game. So, if she's going to be working the door at Fangtasia, she'll dress as a leather dominatrix. Or on her off-time, she likes to be a pretty elegant Upper East Side lady. I was already going for a "lady" look for the scene where she forces Lafayette to sell vampire blood, and then the script came out with that line about, "Maybe it's because I wear so much pink …" So I immediately tweaked everything to be hot pink.
So, have you learned any tricks for getting blood out of clothing?
We've done lots of tests with the different types of blood that are used on set. There's the blood that's our favorite because it comes out easily. There's the blood that has the best look because it doesn't dry quickly on fabric. Then there's the blood the special effects guys like, and the two kinds of blood the makeup people use … Altogether, there are six or seven different blood types. Honestly, though, it never really comes out. We basically have enough multiples of costumes that once blood gets on something, it's kind of dead to us.