Cary Fukunaga and Patrick Somerville's fever dream-esque Maniac, released on Netflix last fall, distills several different universes into one dizzying mind-warp. Following Annie (Emma Stone) and Owen (Jonah Hill) as they take part in an experimental drug trial meant to "cure" their psychological trauma, it shifts from a retro-futuristic present to 1990s Long Island, a '40s dinner party-turned-séance, a Lord of the Rings-like fantasy, a mobster shoot-'em-up, and an alien apocalypse, then back to the present again. Creating the wardrobes for so many different storylines — and making them cohesive — was a tall order, but Maniac costume designer Jenny Eagan was up to the challenge. "It's really a costume designer's fantasy to be able to do all these different periods," she tells Bustle over the phone, "and happening in one season of a show!"
The Missourian first got her start as a production assistant on Any Given Sunday, the 1999 Oliver Stone film, and since then has steadily climbed the ranks of the costuming industry. Her recent credits include the 2018 hit Widows and the upcoming miniseries Catch-22, but her first big break was True Detective Season 1, she says, because of its popularity. It also served as the genesis of her ongoing partnership with Fukunaga, with whom she worked on 2015's Beasts of No Nation and now, of course, Maniac.
But, though ambitious projects in their own right, both True Detective and Beasts of No Nation are rooted in singular worlds. So how on earth did Eagan go about crafting Maniac's multiplicitous universe? She credits the show's writing as being an important guideline, saying she would segment all the timelines to keep them straight in her head while trying to maintain a few throughlines for each character. "There's little things that you wanted to keep with them to carry it through," Eagan explains, citing the modern earrings Annie wears in the elf sequence as a small nod to the character's true self.
And not only do the wardrobes help orient viewers in whichever reality they're currently watching, but they informed the actors' performances, too. "[I]t kind of gives them a feeling of who they're going to be, and it makes them walk a little bit different or stand a little bit different — gives them kind of a different gait or an attitude," Eagan says. Below, the designer breaks down how it all came together.