BUST recently had the opportunity to chat with the exceedingly awesome Jade Brandt. Never heard of her? In addition to being the only full-time seamstress working for the ever-popular American Horror Story, Jade is also a designer and mixed media artist in her own right. Read our interview to discover how she got her job on the hit FX show and learn about her other projects in the works.
No spoilers are given. Promise!
BUST: Thanks for taking the time to chat! When did you first discover your interest in design?
Well my mom taught my sister and I how to sew when we were five. We were poor kids, who had no money, and we wanted doll clothes so she said to make them ourselves, and we did! It’s something that I’ve always done and have stuck with. I always played and tinkered with textiles. Even in high school I made my own clothes, because I was weird, and I wanted weird clothes. In high school I started to do designs for theater productions and other people too. I can’t imagine not designing. It’s so much a part of my brain and what I do.
BUST: How did you get your current job as a seamstress with American Horror Story?
I live in New Orleans, which isn’t a huge city, but there are loads of designers here. I had a show a few years ago, that was a solo show of costumes and tableaux, and a good friend of mine, who is a costumer, came and said I should come work with her. So, then she started hiring me for indie shows, which led to a big picture and people knowing who I was. This city is big on costumes as part of the culture, but the film industry is much smaller. Everybody sort of knows each other, and it’s very much how I got the job. I have worked with most of the people in the costume department on other film projects in the past.
BUST: What does your job entail on a daily basis with the show?
I am their only full-time seamstress on the show, and this season has a lot of construction to it because it is period and circus-themed. Also, we have so many alternative body types on the show, as opposed to normal Hollywood body-types that could walk into most things off the rack. Although, when you dress people for a living you realize there aren’t any “normal” bodies. We have the tallest woman on Earth and the smallest woman, as well as lots of other unique variations of the human form. There is a design team, lead by our costume designer Lou Eyrich, who are the dreamers and the brains behind costumes and our pattern maker who structures out those ideas (drafts the pattern, cuts the fabric) and then I construct the pieces. This is overly simplified. There is actually a lot of communication between all these parts. We play off each other more than in any other shop I’ve worked in.
BUST: Each season of American Horror Story is different and has a unique feel to it; do you have a favorite season so far in terms of style?
Honestly, this season! I love the circus sideshow vibe because of the imagery that’s present, and I think it’s focusing on a really interest part of Americana. I specialize in period costuming, so to do mid-century period pieces has been really fun for me. It’s full of really cool shapes and colors and it’s just a fun era to work in.
BUST: What has been your favorite and/ or the craziest thing you have sewn for the show?
My favorite thing so far was the blue tuxedo that Jessica Lange wore for the “Life on Mars” David Bowie cover in episode one of this season. Suits are really structured, and it’s very different than just building a dress. There is a lot more to it- it’s a different way of thinking and building. It was also the first suit, with all of the structuring and patterning that I had ever made, so I thought it was awesome! It was a stunning piece. Maybe less exciting than some other costumes, but the moment of watching the premiere and seeing her in it was perfect.
BUST: You are a designer and a mixed media artist, which is awesome! Could you talk about your work outside of the show?
I just finished working on some pieces for this show in New York called “The Dreary Coast.” It takes place on a boat on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The designer is a good friend of mine, Sarah McMillan, so that’s going to be really gorgeous. I’m also building an installation piece, with my artistic partner Nina Nichols, at a gallery here for Prospect.3, which is New Orlean’s biennial art event, at a gallery called The Tigermen Den. It is sculptural work with light. We’re also doing another piece for The Foundation Gallery for Prospect.3. I don’t know when I’m ever going to sleep again, but it’s nice to be able to do something that is outside of the medium I work with on the show. It’s been fun and exciting to switch the way my brain works a little bit.
Be sure to catch Jade Brandt’s work on American Horror Story every Wednesday at 10 pm on FX!
Images via Jade Brandt & FX