As part of our coverage of The Girl in the Woods, Nerds and Beyond had the opportunity to speak with costume designer Erin Orr! Orr has an extensive resume, from films like Leave No Trace and All the Real Girls to the series Trinkets. She also runs the popular Instagram account @paperbagwaist, which shows followers how to use vintage patterns to make their own clothing. Orr discussed her inspirations for The Girl in the Woods, her favorite pieces from the series, and more!
Nerds & Beyond: How did you originally get involved with The Girl in the Woods?
Erin Orr: I was approached by Crypt TV and pitched them my concept for the show.
Nerds & Beyond: The costumes for The Girl in the Woods are interesting, because on the one hand you have characters like Nolan or Tasha who are very stylish and trendy, and on the other you have Carrie, whose colony wardrobe is more functional and plain. Both characters stand out in different ways as a result. What was the design process like for such vastly different worlds?
Erin Orr: We were tasked with creating two very different worlds on The Girl in the Woods. There’s The Colony, a mysterious group that lives in the woods and eschews technology. And there’s the community of West Pine, a small mining community with not a lot of opportunity. Tasha and Nolan, like Carrie, don’t quite fit in in West Pine. Carrie because she’s been raised in The Colony, and Tasha and Nolan because they have aspirations/ambitions that are bigger than what’s offered to them in West Pine.
My costume design process always starts with the script, and in the case of The Girl In The Woods, writer Jane Casey Modderno provided me with so many great visual descriptions of the characters and their worlds. Costume design is a form of storytelling. My job is to help tell the story of who these people are through their clothing. Building The Colony came from weeks of research, combining elements of military and martial arts uniforms, vintage American workwear, pioneer and early American farming references, Amish and Hutterite society, etc. While West Pine was based on small town America, Tasha and Nolan’s costumes were more current and more referential to current youth culture.
Nerds & Beyond: Two of your past projects, Trinkets and Leave No Trace, both connect well with your work on The Girl in the Woods. While one involved shoplifting, stylish teens and the other was a more gritty survival tale, both types of clothing styles are well represented here. What was it like to combine the two design styles for this series?
Erin Orr: The opportunity to create different worlds was one of the main things that drew me to The Girl in the Woods. The challenge, as on most shows, is how to create a world like The Colony while also staying on budget. I am fortunate to have an extremely talented tailor on my team (Savannah Gordon) who not only brought my sketches to life, but is also a dye-ing and age-ing whiz. My ACD (Dionne Barens) and Key (Jaymes Neon) were also heavily involved in making the “special occasion” pieces for The Colony (the crowns, the capes, etc.)
Nerds & Beyond: Do you have a favorite look or piece of clothing from this series (for example, Nolan’s wonderful earrings)?
Erin Orr: My favorite piece is the Guardian’s jumpsuit uniform. It was designed and built from scratch, using a heavy canvas that we coated in wax and aged/dyed to create a beautiful worn patina. Combined with the handmade leather harness/weaponry (made by local artisan Craig Bradford), the goal was to create a practical yet iconic look.
Nerds & Beyond: Your Instagram has lots of fantastic tips for those looking to create their own clothing based on designer patterns. How did you first get started posting patterns to Instagram, and what do you hope your followers will take away from your account?
Erin Orr: I started @paperbagwaist as a hobby a few years ago, mostly to showcase the cyclical nature of fashion – how everything new is a take on everything old, and that making your own clothing is more accessible than people think.
Nerds & Beyond: What tips do you have for those looking to break into costume design?
Erin Orr: Starting as a costume PA is a great way to learn the structure of a costume department and get a taste of all the different jobs within it. There are many paths to becoming a costume designer, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But in the end, a hard work ethic and a great attitude go a long way in getting you in the door.
The Girl in the Woods is out now on Peacock/Crypt TV. Stay tuned for more interviews from the cast and crew!