Award-winning costume designer Lou Eyrich is a New Ulm, Minn., native.
She’s known for her work with “Glee,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Running with Scissors,” and most recently “American Horror Story.” The designer works closely with television writer, director and producer, Ryan Murphy. Together, the two have just wrapped up “Freak Show,” the fourth season of “American Horror Story.”
Before her start in costume design, Eyrich attended college at St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University- Mankato. She then worked at Ragstock in Minneapolis before embarking on her career as a designer.
In an interview with A&E, Eyrich shared everything, from her start in the industry to her favorite designers. The interview has been edited for clarity.
How did you launch your career in costume design?
I met somebody who toured with bands and didn’t realize that a lot of bands had a wardrobe person. So, I would go visit on the road, and just help them. I would sew or seam, just help them because I was bored while my friend was doing all of the lights.
I then got to know the stylist who worked with the [Manhattan Transfer], and I was in the right place at the right time. Somebody had to leave the job and they needed someone to fill in, and then, basically, I was doing costumes for bands on the road.
That’s literally how it happened; I was in the right place at the right time. I started with the Manhattan Transfer, and then worked with Prince on his tour.
What was it like working with Prince?
I didn’t get to know him very well. I worked with him on the movie, where I worked with the backup singers and dancers, and set up dressing rooms and kept all of the clothes. I watched him carefully, in awe of him the whole time. I just think he’s amazing.
Describe your experience with “American Horror Story: Freak Show.”
I would say I am probably the most proud of that than anything I’ve done. It was really a special project to work on, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done. Creatively, we were all really inspired, and I just think the whole thing looked beautiful from the set to the makeup and hair; we all worked really cohesively as a team to make it look great.
What was it like to work with Jessica Lange?
This is my third season working with her. I probably respect her more than most; she is funny and intelligent and so hard working. She shows up and she is just on. She inspires me every day; I love working with her. She’s also really humble; it’s that Minnesota humbleness.
What other designers do you collaborate with?
My old assistant on “Nip/Tuck,” Mila Hermanovski, won second place on Project Runway. She has been designing her own line for a couple of years, and I am so impressed with her. It is really hard to start up a fashion line, and she found a way to do it. Her line is not big yet, but I think she has such a great eye and makes beautiful things.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
I love everything that Sarah [Burton] does for Alexander McQueen; I have always been a huge fan of Alexander McQueen.
I was devastated when he passed, but then Sarah took over, and I just think she is brilliant. And they just keep surprising me, and that’s something so hard to turn out — the amount and style of look — over and over again.
Every year, I can’t wait to see what they are going to do at fashion week — the same with Tom Ford. I just think the guy is brilliant.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Boy meets girl. I dress very boyish; I don’t know why. I just can’t wear heels. I think they are great, and I love them on someone else, but they aren’t for me. Every time I have to dress up, I am uncomfortable. I just like comfort, casual comfort, but also chic and stylish.
What does a typical day at work look like?
When I am prepping a show for the first time, we would [work] 10 to 12 hours a day the first couple of weeks, and then when we get closer to shooting, it’s more like 14 to 16 hours a day, every day.
When we are shooting, I am usually up at 5 a.m., at work at 6 a.m., and you get to go home around 10 o’clock at night, sometimes later.
How much creative reign do you have when creating looks for a character?
Ryan Murphy is the creator of the shows I work for. I have been with him for a long time, and we work very closely together. When we get scripts, I do a lot of concept boards for him, and we talk about what inspires him and what he doesn’t think is right, and then we go from there.
How do you keep a flow of inspiration when working on so many projects?
That is the most frustrating, difficult part of my job. Some days it’s difficult to find fresh [ideas]. It is tough to stay stimulated. I listen to music and I watch movies, but my biggest thing is that I meditate — just sit still and visualize what it could be.