There were a few things that we were expecting from Lady Gaga's addition to the "American Horror Story: Hotel" family: that platinum blonde hair, those rarely-seen acting chops, and a seriously mind-blowing wardrobe. The latter, in particular, is a given -- not just because Gaga is a fashion plate in her own right, but she's playing the intimidatingly elegant owner of Hotel Cortez, Countess Elizabeth. With all that going for this season of "AHS," it makes even more sense that one of the principal murder weapons is an article of clothing -- a terrifying-looking crystal encrusted glove that Gaga's Countess uses to slit the throats of her victims.
"The glove is definitely a pivotal accessory this season," "Hotel" costume designer Lou Eyrich told MTV News. "It's an armor glove. It's how they kill because these vampires aren't really vampires, it's an ancient blood virus. They don't have 'vampire teeth,' so the nails pop out on the gloves and become sharp knives."
The construction of the glove is impressive and very real -- no movie-magic CGI here. "There's a mechanism built into the glove, so when they flick their fingers, the knives pop out," Eyrich explained, the construction of which she likened to "a bit of a science project as well as an art project."
What might also surprise you is the glamorous murder glove has a real life inspiration: a bespoke armor diamond and chain mail glove created by artist/heiress Daphne Guinness and jewelry designer Shaun Leane (but used strictly for art and not murder). Contra Mundum, as the collaborative glove was named, was meant to combine the hard protection of armor with the elegance of an evening glove and did so with more than a thousand grams of 18ct white gold and over 5,000 pavé white diamonds.
The difference lies in, of course, the original not being a murder weapon, but also in the construction. The "AHS" team had to make multiple versions of the glove for The Countess' many outfits and for her fellow not-vampire vampire lovers Donovan (Matt Bomer) and Tristan (Finn Wittrock), plus duplicates for whenever a scene would get extra bloody -- and to do it all under a TV budget.
Eyrich and crew enlisted the help L.A. jeweler Michael Schmidt -- also an admirer of Guinness -- who approached the project as "a labor of love" constructing the first gloves out of just leather to get the sizing right then covering them completely with Swarovski crystals. "He worked closely with Swarovski," Eyrich said, "who also gifted us with thousands and thousands of crystals to make all these gloves."
On top of a handful of initial prototypes, Eyrich said the team sanctioned for ten armor gloves in total, but "we're gonna go over that." Contributing to that total are two silver, two black, one red, one green, and maybe a gold glove, too -- all for The Countess. "We're trying to make them for every outfit, but it's hard to keep up," Eyrich admits, in large part because style icon Daphne Guinness wasn't just a source of inspiration for the glove but for The Countess' entire wardrobe, meaning it needed to be impressive and extensive.
"From the beginning, Ryan Murphy used [Daphne Guinness] as our muse because we all just hold her in such esteem, as well as Gaga," Eyrich elaborated. "So, we certainly didn't want to just copy her, but we definitely wanted to use her as inspiration." Gaga has never been private about her deep admiration of Guinness. She's set a world record bidding on Daphne's McQueen collection. She's pillaged Daphne's closet countless times. The two even hang out IRL on occasion!
As Eyrich describes it, the task of molding Gaga into The Countess was both challenging and completely seamless -- seamless in that Gaga and her team were very easy and fun to work with, she assures, but challenging in that the "AHS" team set out to make audiences feel they were watching The Countess and not international superstar Lady Gaga who can and does wear anything and everything on the spectrum. "There were several times that both Gaga and I would say, "This is too Gaga" and we'd pull back," Eyrich explained. "We'd be like, 'Take the hat off,' and they would pull the hair back or something and we'd finally say, "Oh, there she is!'"
The result is a time-agnostic blend of high-end designer archives -- vintage Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Armani, Marc Jacobs, and more -- mixed with contemporary and custom pieces, and of course, that glove. How many outfit changes with Gaga/The Countess have before the season is up? Since they haven't even wrapped yet, we can only imagine, but we're sure it will be a lot.