Costume designer Lou A. Eyrich was just this side of gobsmacked upon discovering she and supervisor Marisa Aboitiz had been nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy Award for their work on the "Glee" episode, "New York."
"I just didn't expect it," Eyrich explained. "But I'm thrilled, obviously. But there is so much good TV on this season, so many great shows. And all the great period shows."
In fact, this year, all "Glee's" costume-category competitors are period pieces: "Boardwalk Empire," "The Borgias," "Game of Thrones" and "Mad Men."
"So, it was, I felt like the little engine that could," Eyrich said, "even though 'Glee' is not a little engine, obviously anymore."
Eyrich continued discussing her work on "New York" during a recent interview at an Academy-hosted reception celebrating costume nominees, held at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles.
"We threw it together," she confessed. "We landed in New York on a Saturday night, shopped all day Sunday, threw them in the clothes. Some of it was done in L.A., but, literally, we just had to throw them out there in Central Park and on the steps in Times Square. And it just was so fun. And we just thought that, 'Let's just submit this one.'"
From the episode's first frame, a 360-degree pan of Times Square to actress Lea Michele in an eye-popping multi-colored mini coat, it was clear this wouldn't be just any old "Glee" episode, at least in terms of design — starting with That Coat. It's something Marlo Thomas easily could have worn on the '60s sitcom favorite "That Girl."
"We were told that they wanted it to be kind of a little nod to 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' and all the iconic New York places where we were going to shoot," Eyrich said. "And they wanted it a little romantic and so with a little bit of '50s, '60s flair. So we just fanned out and shopped and that just magically worked. But then we didn't want it to look too vintage. So we added it with fun tights and platforms and a little beret."
In fact, two of the characters, Kurt (played by Emmy nominee Chris Colfer) and Rachel (Michele) actually do have breakfast at Tiffany's in the episode. "And then they go perform on the stage of 'Wicked.' And just trying to come up with something cute and youthful, but that they would dress up for and again, threw it together in a day," Eyrich noted, with a laugh.
This marks Eyrich's second nomination for "Glee" ("The Tudors" took the prize last year), but she's certainly no newcomer, with credits dating back to Prince's 1990 feature "Graffiti Bridge." She's worked regularly with "Glee" producer Ryan Murphy for more than a decade, with shared credits including "Popular" (1999-2001) and "Nip/Tuck" (2003-2010).
But "Glee" is something even more special to Eyrich. "For me, personally, just seeing the effect that it has on people — I've never worked on a show that has brought people so much joy," she said. "And then also one with more controversial topics that it brings it to the light. Then again, I think that Ryan Murphy is always good at making those social images, social issues come to light in a beautiful way."
The 2011 Creative Arts Emmy Awards is set for Saturday in Los Angeles.