Edith Piaf and Fred Astaire Provided ‘Interview with the Vampire’ with Season 2 Style Inspo SuperNayr

Move over, Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid); a new immortal showman is in town with a closet to match. In Season 2 of “Interview with the Vampire,” thespian vampire Santiago (Ben Daniels) dresses the part on and off stage, upping the style stakes (no pun intended). New Orleans was ripe for striking sartorial turns, but introducing the Théâtre des Vampires in the postwar Paris landscape adds another layer of fashion drama to the AMC adaptation of the hit Anne Rice book series. 

“We really amped up the theatricality of everything when they were in the theater, but when they were out in the world—no matter where they were—this coven was such a heightened reality,” costume designer Carol Cutshall told IndieWire. With a whopping 14 new vampires entering Louis (Jacob Anderson) and Claudia’s (Delainey Hayles) orbit, Cutshall individualized each by picking a style icon and drawing on the period they became vampires. For actress Estelle (Esme Appleton), it is a twisted spin on legendary French singer Édith Piaf that Cutshall made “a little more grotesque, a little more theatrical, a little more frightening.” Cutshall gives insight into the blood-sucking stage company headed by Armand (Assad Zaman) and how Claudia, Louis, and even Lestat fit in. 

'Maude' stars Bea Arthur, shown here sitting at a kitchen table holding a cup of coffee
SUITS stars Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter, Patrick J. Adams as Michael Ross, shown here standing side by side on a city street wearing coats

From the script, Cutshall (who also designed Season 1) immediately drew parallels between Santiago’s “leaping through the air and weightlessness” and Fred Astaire’s signature spats, top hat, and tuxedo with tails. The black, white, and gray stage production palette informs Santiago’s look, with Cutshall turning to Vincent Price horror movies for inspiration. “Look at those costumes; there are so many layers of pattern clash, texture, print, and stripe, as well as all of these fabrics and textures,” she said. “There was an endless amount you could give him [Daniels]; he could always take more. He’s one of those people that can support all of it.”  

Santiago hangs onto his leading man status backstage in a collection of luxurious dressing gowns, with “great names of theater” like Peter O’Toole, Douglas Fairbanks, John Gielgud, and Laurence Olivier providing debonair cues. “All the vampires have several different speeds. It’s their look when they’re on stage, backstage, and then another look when they’re out on the kill,” said Cutshall. The latter is “where you see their real personalities more,” which sees Santiago switching capes for high-collar leather jackets.  

Regular people are struggling in the postwar years, but this is Paris, and there is still a sense of being put together. “You’d look at research from that time, and still, the people on the street have such panache, and they were so chic,” Cutshall explained. While Christian Dior is designing the “New Look,” Claudia strikes a bond with another dressmaker, Madeleine (Roxane Duran), and “has something made for her by someone who sees her.” Claudia wears the pink silk dress when she steps into the Théâtre des Vampires for the first time. “She couldn’t be more beautiful; she’s the most vibrant flower there,” Cutshall described.  

Claudia has been desperate to belong and finally thinks she has found her people. To become a member of the coven, Claudia must ditch her fancy frock for a work smock, which is one of Cutshall’s favorite Claudia looks. “We were searching everywhere for these 1940s giant rubber galoshes that felt like Frankenstein boots,” said Cutshall. The workwear smock was custom-built in the Prague workroom, and it isn’t only glam that inspires awe: “It was so breathtaking to walk into the room and see the finished paint job on one of these costumes.” 

It is a short-lived victory for the vampiress, as Claudia’s first onstage role as Baby Lulu is even more infantilizing than the sailor get-up from Season 1. “For her to work so hard and to want it so badly to be accepted, and then to be presented with the ultimate regression. It had to be heartbreaking,” said Cutshall. “Mon Bébé Aime Les Fenêtres” [aka “My Baby Loves Windows”] is a huge crowd-pleaser, condemning Claudia to wear the baby doll dress to end all baby doll dresses. Cutshall worked with 1927, the theater company that designed the projection and stage elements, to conceive the best version of this costume, leading to the bold aquamarine flourishes and strong black outline. “The whole Baby Lulu stage play feels like a childlike little drawing,” she said.

Delainey Hayles as Claudia - Interview with the Vampire _ Season 2, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Larry Horricks/AMC
‘Interview with the Vampire’Larry Horricks/AMC

The dress was also constructed and painted in Prague, and Cutshall had to consider how it looked on stage and out in the world. After Armand punishes Claudia for a lackluster milestone performance, she must wear the costume everywhere. “We even had to do a version that felt like she’d been wearing it for 500 performances,” said Cutshall. “By the time you see her out with the sandwich board, it’s got a gray haze.”

Claudia’s dedicated fans also wear a version of Baby Lulu’s baby doll on the front row. “We gathered all of these different fabrics that could be dyed into that same color story to have all of Baby Lulu’s fans make this very crude, very homemade version of her dress, which we also had to paint,” said Cutshall.

Vampires have long enthralled audiences as Lestat, in the role of Harlequin 150 years earlier, turned heads in a fanciful red, white, and blue ensemble. Cutshall describes Lestat’s “rockstar energy” that appealed to the “Merveilleuses” women who adopted “glamour gore” accessories like “little red bead guillotine necklaces” at the end of the French Revolution. “People are busting it back out and being very rebellious and showing their finery and being very edgy with their silks,” says Cutshall about the shift that Lestat embraces.

It is the opposite of Armand, whose minimalist tastes don’t change much across the centuries. “When we find him in 1795 if you think about the cut of those clothes, the shape on him [is] very open,” Cutshall says. “He has no predators. He is the most powerful one. He even shows Lestat, ‘I’m more powerful than you.” Relaxed, elegant tailoring continues in the ‘40s and present-day Dubai.   

Cutshall had an unforgettable experience visiting Les Mauvais Garçons in Paris to source Armand and Louis’ midcentury looks. “I was able to get just the most incredible French workwear from them for Louis,” she says. Louis eschews the overt theater kid energy but plays the part of a different Parisian art scene. It turns out that “all the world’s a stage” even for vampires.

New episodes of “Interview with the Vampire” air Sundays on AMC.



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