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EXCLUSIVE: We Chat with True Blood Costume Designer Audrey Fisher

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One of the reasons I wanted to start the Fashion Profile series here on True-Blood.net was because I so admired what costume designer Audrey Fisher has done with the characters and hoped she would take it as the homage it was meant to be. Imagine our surprise when Audrey contacted us with the offer to talk about her work! Not only had she seen the series, she was tickled that we were so interested in the costumes and wanted to share more about what she does for True Blood.

The Viking warrior / copyright HBO

The Viking warrior / copyright HBO

Bitten by the Costume Bug
Audrey grew up sewing and making costumes, thanks to her mom who “was the best playmate”. Audrey’s mom took her to sewing classes and encouraged her daughter to explore the world of crafts and costumes. In college, Audrey wanted decided to study theater and attended NYU for the Performance Studies graduate degree. While she was there, a friend spotted some “crazy hats” Audrey was making for an art class and asked if she would create the costumes for a production of Medea in the East Village. That experience hooked Audrey on “building” costumes for the theater and she threw herself into the job. Through “a fortunate series of events”, after grad school Audrey went to Germany and Austria where she worked on costumes for the opera houses there, building everything from wigs to corsets to shoes. Following her time in Europe, Audrey worked in New York for a while before returning home to Los Angeles (she’s from Santa Monica) to create costumes for the theater there.

It was while she was working on a theater production with Melina Root, costume designer for That ’70s Show, that Audrey got her first opportunity to work on a television show. Root was preparing for the spin-off, That ’80s Show, and asked Audrey if she’d join her as an assistant costume designer on the show. Although the spin-off was short-lived, the television bug bit hard and Audrey joined the team working on That ’70s Show. As that series was coming to an end, Danny Glicker came by to purchase the costumes for a film he was preparing called We Are Marshall. As Audrey describes it, there was instant sympatico between them and she joined him to outfit the cast of that film. It was Danny who was originally hired as the costume designer on True Blood and Audrey as his assistant. When the writers’ strike hit, halting production for several months, Danny signed on to another project that prevented him from being able to work on the show when production resumed. Instead, he recommended Audrey for the job.

“It was the most amazing feeling that Danny recommended me so highly. And then they said ‘OK’!”

From sketch to reality: Sookie's travel costume / property of Audrey Fisher/HBO

From sketch to reality: Sookie's travel costume / property of Audrey Fisher/HBO

“I never thought I’d know so much about blood.”
Working on True Blood presents its own set of challenges and satisfactions. Audrey relates that the biggest challenges are the time constraints and finding the multiples of the outfits for filming. From prep to the final episode of True Blood’s second season, Audrey worked 80 hour weeks for seven months solid. We asked Audrey to walk us through the process of taking a costume from script to film, and boy was that an eye-opener! First comes the synopsis of an episode, then meeting with her team to plot out ideas, then meeting with Alan Ball and the episode’s director for further input and approval of the planned costumes, then actual procurement or production of the pieces, followed by fittings with the actors, “teching” for the camera (i.e. making a bright white shirt more a cream color in real life so it “reads” the right color on camera), tagging the costumes, and finally sending them to the costume truck where the team there makes sure the right costumes are worn the right way in every scene.

Are you tired yet?

Multiples of costumes are required both for the actors and their stunt doubles to withstand the rigors of filming and make sure continuity is intact. Especially with Sookie getting splashed by blood in every other scene. Says Audrey, “I never thought I’d know so much about blood. How to make it, how to get it out, how to keep it from staining the clothes…”

Audrey also told us that she finds a lot of the characters’ clothes at places like K-mart, Kohl’s, and JC Penney, where the characters would really shop. She does alter them sometimes, removing sleeves or changing collars to make them meet her vision, but her goal is to dress Tara, Sam and Co. in items that are realistic for them.

The Roaring '20s on True Blood / copyright HBO

The Roaring '20s on True Blood / copyright HBO

Her favorite character to dress is Sookie, and Audrey prefers to make as many pieces in her wardrobe as she can because Sookie’s style is so specific. As Sookie matures, falls in love with Bill, and learns more about the supernatural world, her style is subtly changing.  Audrey enjoys collaborating with Anna Paquin about Sookie’s wardrobe, saying that costumes “play a giant part in finding the character in any scene”, so the actors are very interested in what they’ll be wearing.

Viking battles, the Roaring ’20s, and the Great Depression
This season we’ve been treated to several flashbacks as the vampire backstories are fleshed out. Audrey enjoys the opportunity to outfit the characters with costumes from different eras, from Viking armor to sophisticated ’30s evening gowns. Most of the costumes from the ’20s flashback were obtained from costume houses, but Audrey’s team constructed the lingerie – multiple sets – themselves since they were going to end up covered in blood. With plenty of lead time for the ’30s flashback, Audrey very happily set about making all of the costumes for Bill and Lorena, including that stunning green bias-cut satin gown.

Listen to the full interview with Audrey Fisher on True-Blood.net Radio and check out our Fashion Profile series for a closer look at her work.

Fan of the Southern Vampire Mysteries since 2001, and co-admin of True-Blood.net since 2008. Team Sookie!

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: EXCLUSIVE: We Chat with True Blood Costume Designer Audrey Fisher … | Design Graphics

  2. beth logan

    August 10, 2009 at 7:36 am

    girls, i loved this interview w/ audrey-so interesting to her about her process for bringing the costumes together.

    next time you talk to her please tell her to keep putting eric in those black tank tops: i could stare at those broad shoulders and arms all day!

  3. Christel

    August 11, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Hello! I would like to do some suggestions about the image of the characters,well I don’t know who is in charge,but if someone could say to me which is the way to send this kind of message to the crew,I would be very satisfied to know they really receive it.
    1- Eric’s hair: You must to prevent he (I mean Alex) cuts his hair again, I think his image in next season, must be ..lets say..more meaningful? I didn’t like those locks of hair on 1st season but neither this short,super clean,good boy cut.I think something in the middle of this would be right,maybe let this cut grows a bit more behind,on the neck,.Another detail would be let the incipient beard (almost invisible) he has on Season 2 promo,it really makes him mooooooore sexy,kind of cheeky (….remenbering how he liked the blood in his fingers…mmm) however, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you put on him some sleeves shirt eventually ,the black undershirt with no sleeves is more like street gang boy…. well it isn’t that we don’t want to see his INCREDIBLES ARMS but.. there must be a few hot shirts that suit on his REMARKABLE body.

    • April

      January 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm

      I’d say the people making the show are doing fantastic job. No offense, but who are you to say what they should do? You say you want Eric’s hair a little longer in the back… like a damn mullet? Oh, please, do not listen to this person, whoever is in charge… And about the clothing, have you ever thought that the people putting all this together have thought to great lengths and in detail about what they want to portray and why? I just enjoy it, and it is not my project so who am I to say what needs to be done? Bossy fans are annoying…

      • VerucaSalt

        March 26, 2010 at 11:23 am

        Hey April, Christel is entitled to her opinion, as you are yours. Try practicing a little grace because you’ve only managed to make yourself look incredibly ignorant.

  4. stacey

    November 19, 2009 at 6:48 am

    i really want sookies dress that she was wearing wen she had sex will bill

  5. mariam

    January 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Hi Everyone!

    I love True Blood SEries. Im from the Philippines and I work as a callcenter agent so before I sleep its becoming a routine to watch this series. It’s just interesting. Clothes, Setting and Character’s are just amazing! Congratulations Guys! This is not a hit in America but also in Asia! Good JOb! :)

  6. jamie

    August 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Can anyone tell me who designed the amazing dress Sookie is wearing in her angelic dream sequence in epsiode 7, season 3? I’m in love with that whimsical gown! Thanks :)