The genius of Ratched’s costume designers, Lou Eyrich and Rebecca Guzzi is evident from the first lush image of Netflix’s series on how Nurse Ratched of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, became the woman we meet in that critically acclaimed film that garnered six Golden Globes. The series can stand alone without seeing the film. Ryan Murphy’s fingerprints are indelible in the shot composition and writing but would fail to assault all the senses without the incredible detail of each character’s wardrobe.
Minnesota native Lou Eyrich had a love affair with vintage clothing from her early youth, making this the ideal project to display her ability. Rebecca Guzzi came to costume design via exposure at college, finding it the perfect fit for her fascination with art, history, clothing, and storytelling. Both have a history of collaborating with Ryan Murphy. Eyrich notes, "The only challenge of working with Ryan is trying to keep up with him! Benefits are getting to work on insanely creative shows!” Guzzi agrees. “Ryan has such a profound visual vocabulary – particularly for clothing. TV pace requires a tremendous amount of stamina and quick thinking!”
Lou Eyrich: Early in prep, Ryan specifically asked for a nod to the silhouette of Dior’s New Look.
Rebecca Guzzi: Inspired by Dior’s “Bar” suit, Mildred wears this for her hospital interview. We chose this mustard wool crepe so that she would stand out on the hospital set, no matter where she stood. We wanted a formidable, sharply tailored suit that would help Mildred intimidate and eventually convince Dr. Hanover into hiring her.
Lou Eyrich: Normally skittish and mousy, in this scene Charlotte (Sophie Okonedo) is attending the hospital dance to celebrate her progress in treatment. Her party dress was inspired by pre-existing garments from the late 1940s that we purchased. We custom built the dress you see. We choose lightweight silk taffetas and satins in this pastel pink and minty green palette that emphasizes her demure and sweet disposition. The velvet bow helped give it that ‘40s party dress feel.
Lou Eyrich: Hanover (Jon Jn Bries) is all about the details!
Rebecca Guzzi: Dr. Hanover is ego-driven, handsome, and charming with movie star style, a Ramon Novarro or Clark Gable type, per Ryan’s initial notes. The pocket watch, pocket squares, cufflinks, pinky ring – all contribute to his vanity and gave us and Jon Jon many tools to play with as his storyline evolves throughout the season.
Lou Eyrich: The first several scenes with Lenore (Sharon Stone) took place inside the heiress’ home. We chose for those scenes to dress her in shades of white and cream as they would help her pop amongst the jewel tone wallpaper and East Asian decor.
Rebecca Guzzi: We designed the jumpsuit, made by our in-house cutter/fitter, Karine Avakyan, and her talented team. The belt is vintage, bought locally in Los Angeles at Golyester. The feather floor-length coat was bought from one of our frequent vendors for period clothing – Torso Vintage in Northern California. It was a one-of-a-kind piece that when we saw a photo of it, knew we had to have it!
Lou Eyrich: The perfect finishing piece for the made-to-order jumpsuit! Sharon just knows how to move in the clothing to give it that something EXTRA.
Lou Eyrich: The vintage hat and stole pictured were from Somper in Los Angeles. The fabulous necklace was Sharon’s personal and we were over the moon to get to use it to finish accessorizing this ensemble. And, yes, always more shoulder pads!
Rebecca Guzzi: The relationship between Ms. Petunia (the monkey) and Lenore was very much written to be like a child and parent. So, we thought, what if they coordinated every outfit together, much in the way that a doting mother would do to a daughter.
Lou Eyrich: When the background is so important to the feel, it is a challenge to dress them, so they don’t distract but also heighten intent. The costume designers made much of what we see.
Rebecca Guzzi: We had two groups of extras on our hospital sets – staff and patients. We custom made all of the hospital uniforms. When we approached the look of the patients, we pitched to Ryan that they wear their own clothes, this keeping with the idea that St. Lucia is a comfortable haven, a retreat. So, you see patients lounging in Chinoiserie pajama sets, quilted robes, smoking jackets, etc.
Lou Eyrich: For Mildred Ratched – it’s all vintage, except the shoes which are from Remix in Los Angeles, our go-to for period reproduction shoes for the show. Tucked into the neckline of the suit jacket is a scarf, which became a signature look for Mildred throughout the season.
Rebecca Guzzi: Nurse Bucket is the head nurse of St. Lucia and Dr. Hanover’s right hand. For the period as well as her position of authority, the shoulder pads help give her a strong silhouette. The nurse-hat is made out of the same 4 ply silk that the dress is and starched for shape, just as nurses of the time would do.
Lou Eyrich: The pin is the medical issued pin for registered nurses at the time. Chris Clark, Hair Department Head, perfectly complemented our look for Nurse Bucket.
Lou Eyrich: This color palette is straight out of the mind and mouth of Ryan Murphy. Ryan was firm that the St. Lucia hospital uniforms should NOT be white to help set this original story apart from the stark “institutional” whites in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. St. Lucia is also very different tonally – it’s a private sanitarium, more spa than asylum. The Bette Davis film Now Voyager was one of our major inspirations. It took us weeks to perfect the shades of greens for the different positions within the hospital.
Lou Eyrich: The majority of our vintage gloves came from Dorothy Gaspar in Los Angeles and Catherine Nash.
There were no specific designers for inspiration. It was more ‘found’ vintage treasures that would inspire an ensemble.