Emmy-nominated costume designers on dressing characters with success
Eyrich: Not at all. Not me. I didn't see it coming.

Image: Why do you think it's so popular?

Eyrich: Timing. The right time for something so upbeat, funny and original. There are also so many people I know who secretly love and loved glee club, or secretly love to sing and dance. The music is what a lot of people love about the show. Everyone can relate to something. Plus, with such a huge cast, adults can identify with adults, kids with kids.

Image: How do you create such bespoke costumes for so many characters?

Eyrich: Well, we work super-long hours. During the pilot, I worked with Ryan Murphy (the show's creator), and we did a huge concept board for each character. Personas. Flavor boards. Like Finn is a jock. An All-American jock. Where would he shop? Old Navy, Gap, Target and Abercrombie & Fitch. Most guys in general don't really care where they shop. They have their look, and that's how they dress all the time.

Image: How did you do your research for the characters?

Eyrich: I went on EBay and got yearbooks from Ohio. We also did lots of flashbacks … so I also ordered them from the '80s and '90s. But as we started going, we realized we had to elevate. Make them punchier for TV.

Image: Jane Lynch must be the most comfortable character on set.

Eyrich: She does say, "I get to come on set and put on my tracksuit." Adidas has been very generous, but we need at least seven to nine tracksuits per episode, so we had to start custom making them.

Image: "Glee" is geek-chic. You've also embraced body image. A girl in a larger size looks as great as a smaller girl. How have you been so successful with this? It's so important today with self-esteem.

Eyrich: I think a lot of it has to do with the actor and who the character is. Each person embodies their character. They just make it seem so real. Mercedes, for example, embraces diva-glam. She works it. With her, we try to punch up the gold jewelry and the bright colors. She's not afraid to put on a pair of zebra-print pants with a purple T-shirt with a boom box on it. She's confident.

Image: Were you inspired by anyone specifically for certain characters?

Eyrich: For Rachel, we were inspired by a couple of different ideas. One was Molly Ringwald in "The Breakfast Club," kinda quirky, outcast but gets the cool boy. And Tracy [the character played by Reese Witherspoon] from "Election." A little bit of Ali McGraw from "Love Story." Those were the three on the first concept board. Once Lea [Michele] was cast and brought in, it just really escalated from there, because she's just so darn cute.

Image: Has the show changed your life in any way?

Eyrich: It's made me love my craft again. It's made me love my job. I was starting to get a bit burnt out and looking at what's next. It's also the cast. I love this cast; I love working with them individually. The crew is delightful, my producers … we work well together to make the best show. It pushes me to do better and to try harder — if that's even possible! I love coming to work every day.

Image: What did it feel like to be nominated for the Emmy, and what are you thinking of wearing?

Eyrich: When I saw my name that morning, I kind of got a stomachache. First I got butterflies, because I've never gotten nominated, and then I was like, "Omigod, what am I going to wear?" I don't know exactly what I'm going to wear yet, but my old assistant from "Nip/Tuck" is Mila Hermanovski who just got second place in "Project Runway," so I might hit her up.

"Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design"; FIDM Museum and Galleries, 919 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 623-5821; Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Free.

image@latimes.com