episode 412 – February 2, 2009
As a kid, I loved surprises, gifts of any kind. As an adult, I still love surprises, I don't get as many gifts as I used to but each week when I get a new Closer script delivered to my desk, it's like I'm a kid again and I can't wait to open the gift. I have had some great gifts from our clever Closer writers and Junk In The Trunk was no exception.
As I read the words and discovered I had to design a dress for a man to become a woman I initially was excited and then the logistics presented themselves in the form of what was under the dress? I had to have my trusted cutter-fitter-tailor Carlos Zepeda build shapely foundations that not only included a bra with those silicone chicken cutlets but also padded hips and a tush! Which believe it or not you can buy from the Fredricks of Hollywood Catalog, it's called a butty!!! But, I digress.
The dress was a made to order wrap style that was cut from teal chiffon with hand embroidered sequins and bugle beads from International Silk and Woolens, a Hollywood legend for the best in theatrical fabrics. The trim and belt was a beautiful passementerie trim that was crisscrossed lurex cords shot with multifaceted crystal rhinestones standing in for diamonds and gray pearls. The dress had to be break away for Brenda to reveal poor Rosa/Keith as the man playing a woman playing a man.
You all know of my love of vintage and Brenda makes breakfast for her mama in a fiddle back floral print vintage apron with ruffled edges, perfectly hideous and something that Willie Ray would've brought in the R.V. and left for her daughter. And while Willie Ray sits at the kitchen table sewing beads and pearls onto THE wedding gown you can all see where Brenda got her love of the twin set. I found the powder pink with gray polka dot cardigan and shell from Drapers and Damons and the pink pants a gift from Koret. So since mama wore a twin set, like mother like daughter I chose a heather pink cashmere twin set for Brenda to wear, later that day.
Brenda loves coats and the caramel and winter white reversible camel hair coat came from The Way We Wore and was done by Gallanos ca 1980. This was a knockout costume as underneath the gorgeous couture coat was a rare Irene suit in dove gray and belted in front by a self belt. I know that I've told you how my beloved Carlos takes apart each Irene suit and then re-cuts and fits to Miss Sedgwick's body. They were a work of art 50 years ago and become an updated work of art today.
One of my favorite characters to design for is Willie Ray and one of my favorite costumes was the merlot velour jogging suit accented with rhinestones on the quilted yoke and the jaunty wine Burberry newsboy cap that she wears on her head! Frances Sternhagen is up for any concoction I put her in and is such a lovely lady and realizes that she as Willie Ray is truly where Brenda got her sense of style...think if The Closer goes for years and years I can recycle some of Willie Ray's clothes on Brenda!!!
My dad was a dandy dresser in the 1940's thru the 1970's but somewhere in the '80's he got into a weekend casual rut and bought many of his sweatshirts from Blair Mail Order. Well, guess what, that's where I buy many of Clay Johnson's costumes. The Lone Wolf and Soaring Eagle sweatshirts are almost directly from my fathers closet and the 5 Piece suit, that's right not 3 Piece, but 5: a jacket, a plain and plaid pant and a plain and plaid vest, so versatile for the Brenda's busy dad is also from Blair.
And now we get back to THE wedding gown. In our story Willie Ray is adding some beads and pearls and sequins to the beautiful lace at the neck and peplum and "fitting" the dress on her daughter. One thing I really love about working on a TV. show is spending time on the set. We were waiting for a lighting set up and Kyra had me tell Jon Tenney the story of buying the gown on eBay for $29.00. Everyone was amazed that I had scored such a beautiful gown for such a low price. Then Kyra asked if I knew who might have owned the dress originally. I had no idea, but, the sleuth and sociologist in me got busy. I too now wondered what story this gown might tell. I contacted the eBay seller and asked if she knew the owner, thinking that it was a long shot, but a few days letter a message popped up in my email inbox and it was from the original bride, Judy Schlecht, a still married lady celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary this year. She left her phone number.
I immediately picked up the phone and called her, but I ran into a brick wall, her husband! He was skeptical as to what someone from Hollywood was really wanting from his bride of 50 years, neither of them had been fans of The Closer but that was all about to change! When I finally got to talk to Judy we became fast friends and she sent me photos of herself in THE gown, her wedding invitation and the newspaper clipping of her nuptials. Just seeing this lovely woman on her wedding day and then recalling the first time Kyra put Judy's gown on and later seeing the gown on film made me think, wow, what a journey this wedding gown has made from a memorable and very personal private event 50 years ago to this now public forum of a TV. show and all because I chose to buy a vintage gown on eBay.
Wedding gowns are so very personal. My Mom still has her wedding gown from 1949, a brown crepe short design with gorgeous hand made leaves cascading along the neckline and I know she'd never part with it. And I bet Judy hated to say good bye to her gown when she closed up her parents’ farm, but by the quirk of fate and a costume designer that obsesses about vintage, her memories now take on a special sentimentality, THE gown will now be forever remembered not only as hers but as Willie Rays and then Brenda Leigh's. I guess Junk in the Trunk is all about a gown, whether it's an illusionists beaded break away gown, or a $29.00 find on eBay for a TV. star or a gown preserved in photos and memories of its original owner. Wedding gowns are like old friends, in this case a wedding gown made two people new friends.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer/speaker and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc.