While Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as Bette and Joan are Feud’s stars, where would the show be without the chameleon-like Australian actress Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper? And those hats. Those stupendous hats. The Hollywood gossip columnist, a powerhouse in her day with her scathing columns digging up all the dirt and her hats, are quite the distraction on Feud. Davis, nailing Hopper’s charmer with the nervy undercurrent, has the gravitas to carry off the millinery machinations. The hats might be overwhelming, but Davis is never overwhelmed.
Feud's costume designer Lou Eyrich spoke with Elle about how she and her team captured Hedda Hopper’s iconic look, how they ‘evoked the style signature of a woman who was an icon in her time, and created an aesthetic worthy of the juicy world of the show.’
‘‘I worked closely with Ryan Murphy, who always has quite an idea of what he wants before we even begin. He wanted a very heightened sense of Hedda Hopper—not a tame version. But he took a lot of the research and started there, and then he just kind of pumped it up a little bit more and made it bigger: bold colors, and he wanted the hats to be very quirky, with a lot of movement, a lot of feathers. A little bit outrageous.’’
‘‘This one was really not inspired by Hedda Hopper research, but one of the vintage stores I got a lot of hats from has a large collection of Bes-Ben [a Chicago milliner] hats. I saw them on display and just knew that Ryan would love them. They just felt very Hedda to me. They're made out of hard plastic. The hat is quite heavy—the whole thing is made out of wire and covered in plastic.’’
This little lilac hat shows Hedda’s "ballsy" side.
‘‘That one was a Jack McConnell hat, vintage, and we chose that for the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane press party. [Studio head] Jack Warner was throwing a big party to kick off the movie. So we really wanted her to stick out as this ballsy broad. That hat is big and odd and quirky and fun.’’
‘‘We tried to do a lot of the silhouettes that Hedda wore, which were a little bit body-conscious, but very put together and styled. But when we started working with Judy, everything shifted. We worked with her body type and what really made sense for her. It all kind of shifted into being much more playful and bright and bold and quirky...It took a little bit of convincing with the hats, because they were pretty outrageous. We started working on silhouettes, and then once we found something that really accentuated her small waist, we added the hats. And she was the one saying, Let's go bolder, let's go bigger.’’
Just in time to inspire your Easter bonnet.