Oh, the Horror! AHS: Coven

ahs-coven-1jessica-lange-2jessica-lange-3God knows all the money in the world can’t buy good taste,” Miss Fiona Goode, aka “The Supreme,” sharply stated.  The style that marches across the screen in American Horror Story: Coven is absolutely breathtaking.  There are so many strong female leads on this show with distinctive styles, we could have dedicated a whole “Witch Week” to each of them!  Season Three of jessica-lange-4AHS tells the tale of small, private all-girls’ school in New Orleans called Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.  But this isn’t your ordinary finishing school – it’s a secret academy for witches!  The headmistress is the quiet, bookish Cordelia Foxx, whose mother happens to be The Supreme.  Fiona Goode, played by the marvelous Jessica Lange, is the most powerful witch of her generation.  Despite the fact she’s dying of cancer, Fiona’s not ready to surrender her title just yet… So let’s start with the queen bee: Since Fiona has been top dog since she was a teen, she’s definitely established her own strong sense of style.  Rarely seen in anything but black, she is always decked out in dark, designer duds.  We featured Fiona’s field trip outfit as a “Look-of-the-Day” earlier this week.  Costume designer Lou Eyrich spoke with Entertainment Weekly about her work and Miss Lange’s look on Season 3 of AHS, “Last season, she had to wear a nun’s habit almost the entire time. So for her to get to start wearing Givenchy and Gucci and Lanvin shoes and Prada boots – it was so fun to watch the transformation. Jessica quite loved wearing all those jessica-lange-5wonderful clothes.”  Even though Fiona’s powers are waning, she doesn’t sugarcoat the truth about her selfish reign, as she laments, “All that power… I just took it, poured it back into myself, and dressed it up in Chanel.”  Damn straight.  Miss Goode is usually only out for herself, but she does give the girls the best style/witch advice on the show before their little outing: “WEAR SOMETHING BLACK.”  As for the students, people have been witch-hunting for centuries, so the school’s population is pretty small – in fact, there’s only four students!  The wonderful website, Worn On TV, did a flat-out amazing job of collecting each of the witches’ wardrobes.  It’s where our editors were able to find out where many jamie-brewer-2jamie-brewer-1jamie-brewer-3of the characters’ outfits were from!  First, there’s Nan, played by Jamie Brewer (pictured, above).  She can read thoughts, which can give her some overwhelming headaches.  Her signature look is usually a white and black or navy dress with a Peter Pan collar.  Our favorite frock of hers is pictured in the photo below, where she’s wearing a Nitcha Bow Collar Dress by Ted Baker.  The new girl in town is Zoe Benson (played by Taissa Farmiga), whose special power is… screwing her boyfriends to death.  To be honest, her clothing isn’t remotely as interesting as her special skills, but the girl can certainly rock a hat (pictured, below left)!  One of the most fascinating recruits is Madison Montgomery, played by Emma Roberts (pictured, below right).  She is a famous emma-roberts-3-jamie-brewer-5emma-roberts-4movie star, but also happens to be a Salem descendant, and instead of going to rehab, her agent decides to send her to the witch academy.  Despite being a diminutive girl, Madison can be downright terrifying, and since she’s a wealthy actress, it makes sense she’s got a closet full of couture, who also agrees with our opinions on Zoe’s duds (pictured, above right).  Madison dresses like a little tart in the beginning (pictured, above left), but as the show goes on, her clothing becomes more conservative, yet still retains its LA flair.  In the group photo pictured above, Madison wears a gorgeous mink hat and maxi dress by emma-roberts-5emma-roberts-6Free People called, what else, “Witchy Woman.”  Our favorite dress of hers is the square-neck A-line little black dress by Herve Leger (pictured, left).  Paired with the black headband, knee socks and cocktail in-hand, she looks like a sexy witch ready to take on the world.  But her most popular look was probably her infamous red dress of “Surprise, bitch” fame (pictured, above right).  The ruffled red frock is called the high-low “Fais” long halter dress by BCBG MAXAZRIA.  Madison wears this label quite frequently throughout the series, including the electric blue “Gemma” T-back dress (pictured, above left with Jamie Brewer) and the white “Diana” fitted dress on her night out on the town with Fiona (pictured, below) she wears with Steve Madden Spycee platform sandalsjessica-lange-6-emma-roberts-7emma-roberts-8emma-roberts-9After ahs-coven-3Madison’s “transformation,” of sorts, she keeps herself much more covered or shielded, usually by a fantastic fur.  The last student is Queenie, played by Oscar nominee Gabby Sidibe (pictured, below center), who is probably one of the funniest girls on the show, but she doesn’t get to sport of lot of great outfits (although we’re loving this black number below!)  She’s a poor, overweight girl from Detroit, and both intellectually and powerfully above her peers, so she’s bit of a loner.  When Queenie comes to New Orleans, she thinks she’ll finally fit in, but now she’s just surrounded by privileged white girls (even if they’re outcasts in their own right), and it Jamie-Brewer-6-Gabourey-Sidibe-1-Queenie-Taissa-Farmiga-2seems nothing has changed for her.  Even after coming to an academy of her own, Queenie still has trouble finding her “tribe,” just like the random side character who enters the students’ lives named Misty Day, played by Lily Rabe (pictured, below).  This little swamp witch has the power of resurgence, and a 24/7 obsession with Stevie Nicks.  Personally, she was this editor’s favorite character originally.  This lovely, poor hippie was lily-rabe-3lily-rabe-1lily-rabe-2burned to “death” by her own family of religious ahs-coven-2fanatics, but little did they realize she could bring herself back with magic and some mud from the swamp!  Despite being broke and living in a secluded one-room cabin, Misty Day certainly has her style staples: maxi dresses (mostly by Free People), lots ahs-coven-4of fringe and florals, layered necklaces, big belts, and many skinny scarves.  Along with her signature wavy hair, her bohemian look matches perfectly to her free spirit and earthy vibes.  Our other favorite lady of AHS Coven, Myrtle Snow, sums Misty up perfectly: “You miss the point darling,the swamp mud is a metaphor, her metaphor, she’s a sophisticated witch with extraordinary gifts, hiding out as a hippie swamp rat.”  The sarah-paulson-1sarah-paulson-2-jessica-lange-7other blonde mentor of the academy is Headmistress Cordelia Foxx, played by Sarah Paulson (pictured, left & above).  Cordelia lives in the shadow her all-powerful mother, Fiona, but after suffering a personal tragedy, is able to see things she could never see before.  Cordelia dresses the way you would picture a stylish 1940s heroine would dress – she’s usually sporting conservative, high-waisted pants, long-sleeved silk tops, large floral prints, lovely lace and she almost always accessorizes every look with a strand of pearls.  At first glance, Cordelia seems to be the complete opposite of her mother, but the two probably wear the most designer pieces on the show.  Cordelia’s printed blossom skirt (pictured, above) is Dolce & Gabanna, while the character also gets to wear Elie Tahari, Valentino and Ted Baker in other scenes.  Mrs. Foxx is lovely, but she’s nowhere as interesting as her mother, or the following queens… angela-bassett-1angela-bassett-2angela-bassett-3Next up is the ageless Marie Laveau, played by the ageless Angela Bassett (seriously, her skin is insane.)  Miss Laveau (pictured, above) is Fiona’s archenemy, the immortal voodoo priestess across town.  She is flat-out fierce, and Bassett is a goddamn dream.  Her tribe and Fiona’s tribe have been fighting for centuries, but they’re putting the angela-bassett-4truce aside to cause more trouble (especially after Fiona insults her in her own shop!)  Marie has been alive for hundreds of years, currently hiding out as a beauty shop owner, but her true passion is fighting for civil rights (and voodoo, obviously).  She’s got long, gorgeous braids and has retained most of her early fashion statements – Marie still rocks head-wraps, floor-length dresses and lots of big jewelry, including hoop earrings, long necklaces, cocktail rings and arm bands, angela-bassett-5-jessica-lange-8but has adapted them to modern fashion.  This editor had a friend who summed up the power struggle between Fiona and Marie as Lange and Bassett’s acting as “just cutting up the screen.”  Dead-on, we could watch these witches for weeks!  Their fight to stay on top keeps the story line mysterious and interesting.  Last, but definitely not last, is the most fashion-forward witch of the week (and possibly history?!) – Miss Myrtle Snow (pictured, below).frances-conroy-2frances-conroy-3  frances-conroy-4Played by the magnificent Frances Conroy, Myrtle is  the Head of the Witches Council, and Fiona Goode’s former foe.  In the EW article referenced earlier, costumer Lou Eyrich stated, “Ryan wanted her to be a cross between Diana Vreeland and Grace Coddington. It was fun. My team and I spread out across town in New Orleans looking for maxi dresses and capes and gloves and kooky glasses. Watching Franny transform into Myrtle Snow was a highlight.”  They certainly achieved the look, cause when Myrtle first appeared onscreen, all I could think of was the amazing frizzy-haired editor in the Vogue frances-conroy-6documentary, The September Issue!  (Myrtle and frances-conroy-5Grace have the same big hair, and seem to play second-fiddle to the stars in both their industries… the similarities don’t end there, either!  Both ladies have eclectic styles, and retain the most sophisticated, all-knowing air about them, while being unfailingly polite.  This editor could write for days about both of them!)  In CovenMyrtle Snow started out as the studious, good girl at Miss Robichaux’s, but has since transformed, so much so that even her former schoolgirl nemesis Fiona snarkily says, “Look at you, developing a sense of style frances-conroy-8when no one else was paying attention.”  With her signature hair and designer frocks, Myrtle always dons her winged cat-eye glasses and long gloves, along with several other vintage pieces.  She also has some very important fashion lessons for her bewitching ladies (like the one pictured, above right), and we featured her mini-unrequited love story/history of the wrap dress earlier this week on “Words on Fashion.”  Here are some of our other favorite Myrtle style quotes and lessons:

  • “I’m just MAD for tartan!”
  • “I’d rather burn, than boil.”
  • “Your tasteful modesty is out of fashion, so knock it off.”
  • “You could never pull it off, dear.”
  • “Your weak-willed, boring and your fashion faux pas give me nightmares.”
  • “Listen to the celestial tones.”
  • “You’re just like Halston when he sold his brand to J.C. Penney. You’ve forsaken your destiny.”
  • “Look at me, I’m fabulous.”
  • “Don’t be a hater, dear.”
  • And, of course, “BALENCIAGA!

frances-conroy-7If you haven’t seen AHS Coven please be aware, SPOILER ALERT AHEAD!  Costume designer Lou Eyrich spoke of Myrtle’s infamous last words and look with Collider last year, “That was a big deal, because in the script she comes out in a red dress and says ‘Balenciaga!’ so we all thought it had to be Balenciaga. We started researching, and we realized we couldn’t afford a Balenciaga dress, because we have a small budget. So Ryan said, it’s not literal, she’s just saying it as a crazy Myrtle thing, a Myrtle-ism. Then we were able to grind it out, and we actually searched town. But everything wasn’t eccentric enough for frances-conroy-9Myrtle, and then we went online and actually my shopper, Bob, found it online and it was the perfect thing, and it’s a Carolina Herrera. There was a lot of the stuff in the press saying, ‘That’s not a Balenciaga dress.’ But it was never meant to be.”  Honestly, it’s the perfect explanation for Myrtle’s whole ironic character arc, and probably the most memorable scene of the show.  Early on AHS Coven, Fiona Goode asks the mirror, “Who’s the baddest witch in town?”  Honestly, it’s hard to say with this list of rock stars listed above, but always remember, “BALENCIAGAAAAAAA!!”ahs-coven-5