There is a creepy chill on the air – some terrifying costumes approach! I am very excited to share a look into the costuming for The Girl In The Woods! In the supernatural drama The Girl In The Woods, produced by Crypt TV and premiering on Peacock, monsters are real! They are kept at bay behind a mysterious door in a cult-like colony. Teenage runaway Carrie’s job is to guard that door, but when strange occurrences begin to shake the sleepy mining town to its core, she must enlist the help of new friends Nolan and Tasha. The group becomes an unlikely trio of monster slayers, determined to save their loved ones.
I am honored to have interviewed costume designer Erin Orr before the premiere of the show to get all of the horrific details in costuming The Girl In The Woods! Crypt TV’s “The Girl In The Woods” premieres Thursday, October 21 on Peacock. All eight episodes will drop at once!
Spencer: Hi Erin, I’m so excited to talk to you finally. I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a long while now! How are you?
Erin: I’m great; it’s nice to talk with you today! This is exciting, and The Girl In The Woods was a fun project, so I’m happy to talk about it.
Spencer: I had fun just watching it! Before we get into The Girl In The Woods, I would love to hear a little bit about your journey to becoming a costume designer on the show. Where did this passion for costume design come from?
Erin: I was always very heavily influenced by costume design as a kid and as a teenager, trying to find my way of expressing myself. I grew up watching Blossom, My So-Called Life, and Heathers. Then, of course, Molly Ringwald and the John Hughes movies. I was always very heavily influenced in the way I dressed based on what I saw in film and television. I initially went to film school thinking I would be a writer and director; that’s what I studied in film school. When I graduated, I produced a movie with some friends from film school called George Washington with director David Gordon Green. Then for his second feature, I did the costumes. I’d always wanted to do that, and that was a perfect opportunity. I could just start as a costume designer without really knowing what I was doing because I didn’t come up traditionally.
I kind of backtracked a little after doing that movie. I worked as a set costumer for a while in New York on various TV shows and movies. As a costume supervisor for a while, and then I took ten years out of the business completely when I had kids. My husband’s in the business as he is a DP, a cinematographer, and he’s away on location nine months out of the year. We would pack up and travel with him on location, so I didn’t work at all for ten years.
When we moved up to Portland, there was a bunch of stuff shooting here, and I started getting back into the business part-time. As my kids got older, I was ready to jump back in! I was lucky that a director I had worked with in New York was making a movie here in Portland and hired me as the designer. After that, I was able to get an agent and kind of jump back in, which has been great.
Spencer: That’s so exciting. Do you feel over those ten years, your desire to return to the industry was just building up inside of you? Ten years later?
Erin: I always think I always had hopes I was would be able to get back in, but I wasn’t sure that I would… You know, ten years is a long time to be out of the business completely. When I left the business, we were taking continuity photos with Polaroids. When I came back, everything was on an iPhone! Things had changed a lot! In that time, I did a lot of fashion-related things for myself in terms of selling clothes. These have always been my two significant interests in life, fashion and movies. Costume design was my perfect way of tying those two things together.
Spencer: Let’s talk about The Girl In The Woods, shall we! The Girl In The Woods is a supernatural drama. It gives me all of those spooky season vibes I have been craving! Are you a fan of horrors and thrillers?
Erin: I am! Yeah, my favorite ones are some of the older ones, like Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining.
Spencer: Yes! Both are fantastic choices.
Erin: Especially with horror, I feel like there’s such an opportunity to create an iconic costume. We would joke in the making of The Girl in The Woods; if we were doing it right, people would want to dress up as Carrie for Halloween. There’s this sort of whole other element that comes into horror movies, and designing them with that in mind.
Spencer: I could sense that you are a horror fan, seeing Carrie’s costumes especially. By the way, Carrie would make the perfect Halloween costume! So let’s talk about costuming this show. It’s quite interesting because it shines a light on the drastic differences, thoughts, and cultures between various communities. So I want to start by talking about the mysterious colony, what influences did you take in when the costuming, The Colony?
Erin: We took a lot of influences, actually. Some of the basic frameworks were in the script in terms of the basic colors for the colony. We knew we wanted to have this beige and tan palette, canvas, and off-white colors. From there, we had a lot of references! We reference early military costumes, martial arts costuming, vintage American workwear, Amish and Hutterite societies. Our team even looked at pioneer wear and early-American farming clothing. We sort of took little bits and pieces of all of those things and put them together.
Within the colony, we wanted to create this separation between The Guardians and the regular colony members. Take Carrie and Arthur Deane for example; those costumes are all made out of wax canvas. We wanted their clothes to have more structure and heft than the regular colony members, which were softer and flowing. They don’t have much structure at all. We did a mix of making things from scratch and using off-the-rack pieces that we dyed or altered in some way. Pretty much every piece of clothing for the colony we touched in some way or another, whether it was dying, altering, or switching out the buttons. All the buttons are made out of wood.
We tried to make it evident that The Colony shoos technology in every way. The Colony was dressed in clothing that they theoretically could have made themselves, or they could have made using a pedal machine. We only use zippers, I think in one place, which was on Carrie’s jumpsuit. The rest, there were no zippers anywhere else.
Spencer: I’m obsessed with this concept. I love the fact that the approach you took was so authentic and fully realized. The idea that you used wooden buttons and no zippers because that is what The Colony would have done, just peak costume design.
Erin: Right, and it was fun! It was cool to see it all come together. We also had this framework where we wanted everything to be unisex, there were no dresses or skirts in the colony. Everybody wears the same. We also wanted it to feel like uniformity is a big part of the colony so that everyone’s seen the same.
Spencer: So you touched a little bit on aging and dying. I’m a considerable aging and dying nerd. Were there any fun processes that you used on this particular project that maybe I could get in on?
Erin: *laughs* Yes! We used a lot of wax canvas, and Carrie’s Guardian jumpsuit, in particular, was just a white waxed canvas. When we bought the bolt, we then had to age that down. We used different colored waxes that we tinted, and then we put that on top of the wax canvas. Then, we also used some different colored powders on top to create that color. Arthur Deane’s coat was just made of canvas which we completely waxed ourselves, and that was all tinted wax that we would melt in a crockpot. It was quite a process. Our tailor, Savannah Gordon, who’s amazing, was responsible for that!
Spencer: That’s so fun. I could talk about aging and dying forever. But let’s move on to the main character of the show, Carrie, played by Stephanie Scott. She escaped the colony in the first episode, therefore embarking on quite the journey. I would love to hear your process in costuming Carrie, because she transitions from her guardian costume into everyday life outside of the colony. I think that’s an exciting aspect.
Erin: So with Carrie, Krysten Ritter was the director of the pilot episode and the first four episodes. She had a lot of ideas about how she wanted to Carrie to dress. One of the things that were really important to her was that Carrie wasn’t sexualized in any way because she comes from this colony where that’s not a thing.
She shows up at Tasha’s house, meaning whatever clothing Carrie is wearing from this point would have come from Tasha. But we didn’t want Carrie to look like Tasha either, so we wanted it to be more like… a shirt that Tasha gave her that she sleeps in or maybe her Dad’s Army jacket. We wanted her to have a different silhouette from the other two. Carrie’s silhouette is much boxier, looser, not as tight-fitting. Carrie has this “fish out of the water” feeling compared to the rest of the kids in the town.
Spencer: That’s so interesting now that you’ve mentioned that. Oh my gosh, that’s Tasha’s Dad’s jacket. I think it’s also interesting that you can’t even tell how old Carrie is. Carrie is really stripped-down once she’s left The Colony; you just kind of know nothing about her. The costuming really played a big part in that.
Erin: Right. Thank you!
Spencer: I loved the costumes you did for Tasha (played by Sofia Bryant) and my favorite character Nolan, (played by Misha Osherovich). I thought it was hilarious, opening with their characters creating TikToks. These two characters are bringing the fashion, and it felt so current – can you talk about costuming these two? They work in harmony but also tell different stories.
Erin: It’s so colorful. We had a color palette for these guys where Tasha wore reds and yellows, and Nolan was purples and blues. We wanted them to feel different from Carrie. They’re teenagers who use TikTok and the internet. They’re very connected to the outside world and therefore influenced by the outside world in a way that Carrie isn’t. With Tasha, we wanted her to be sort of eclectic and fun who is also a little bit loud in certain ways. With Nolan, we wanted them to be free from traditional gender expressions and mix up many different things.
Spencer: That’s so fun! What would you say like we’re some of Nolan and Tasha’s influences if you were to guess?
Erin: I don’t know that I had a direct influence for either one of them except to say that the actors themselves influenced me quite a bit.
Spencer: Oh right, that definitely makes sense for Tasha and Nolan.
Erin: Misha had a lot of ideas and thoughts, and they brought a lot to the table. Sofia had a lot of ideas as well. I feel like with both of those characters especially; it was a real collaboration between Krysten, myself, and the actors.
Spencer: I love to hear that. Do you enjoy that sort of actor and costume designer collaboration and listening to their ideas?
Erin: Absolutely, I love it. I always say to the actors in fittings, “if you don’t like this… tell me! It won’t hurt my feelings. If you don’t like it, it’s out.” The actors have to like it. The costume is what gets them into their character. I want them to feel confident and when they put on those clothes, they become that character. It has to be a collaboration; if I feel like I’m talking an actor into something, then it’s probably not the right fit.
Spencer: Right, and the actors and the costumes, they can’t work together in the sense of telling the story if they don’t feel comfortable with it. Then they’re not telling a story the way that you, the director, really envision.
Spencer: Erin, I’m so fascinated by work on the show, it brought me into the fantasy, and I’m loving every episode of it. I have not a few more episodes to go, so I don’t really know what’s coming next, but any kind of frightful surprises we’re in for coming up later?
Erin: Oh god. That’s a hard one to answer. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say! I am also waiting to see where this story goes with bated breath, and I hope we get a season 2 to tell it!
Spencer: Well I am hoping for the same thing. I need more of these costumes… and Misha Osherovich…. Thank you so much Erin for talking to me, I am beyond excited about the audience watching this show and seeing your brilliant costume design!
Erin: Thank you so much!