episode 413 – February 9, 2009
Sometimes it's all about the words and we all know that lawyers love to talk and writers love to write words...and costume designers love to well, costume. Often we costume designers think that a story really revolves around a costume, for instance, a wedding gown that every little girl dreams about, even Brenda I would hope, or the Illusionists beaded dress that concealed millions of dollars worth of stolen diamonds, and that THE costume is truly THE story...wrong! Oh how talentedly deluded I can be.
Power of Attorney was a challenge from a design standpoint in that it was just normal people reacting to an abnormal crime. I approach all of our stories from that central design core, there it is again, all about the costume, but when we get a screenplay with normal neighbors like Mr. and Mrs. Evans, or a normal victim like Jessica, or the lawyer Stroh, described in the script as slippery in an off label suit and tie, who in essence is "normal", there is no store that I can go to for "normal" costumes and that's when our stock room comes into play. Aside from our Major Crimes Squad who we dress weekly in recycled clothes from seasons past and Miss Brenda who also wore nothing new, everything for this episode was purchased either for another character and never seen on camera or bought just for this very reason...normal clothes.
It's harder than you think to make an actor or actress look normal and like they own their clothes that they wear on screen. Often James Duff will say "oh the actress wore the perfect outfit to the audition" and then it is my job to recreate that perfect outfit, and I’ll ask to use the very costume that elicited the comment from Mr. Duff or go straight to stock.
The Stock Room is hung floor to ceiling with racks of denim jeans in every shade of blue or black, all colors of dress shirts from button downs to spread collar to short sleeve to French cuffs, suits of every size, color, fabric and texture, ladies pants and skirts from short to long and every length in between, blouses in silk, cotton and blends, sweaters knitted in bulky wools and whisper thin cashmere, dresses, gowns, drawers of jewelry, bins of shoes and boots and slippers, then there's the character section that whets my design appetite with perfect homeless items that I layer and mix and match, hookers, and bimbettes, polyester paradise that makes one cringe with delight for the perfect disco shirt or flash dance fantasy, delicate lace trimmed house dresses for a grandma or garish print shirts for thugs or thieves; a veritable Closer Department Store.
Many costume "designers" from other TV. shows don't "get" character and just shop-till-they-drop without any thought to normal. When I get an episode like this I love nothing more than hitting one of my favorite thrift stores. I'll start at The Salvation Army in any of the SoCal suburbs, I do have a couple favorites in the South Bay and downtown. I'll hit a Goodwill or two, sometimes in the San Fernando Valley or near Glendale, then there's the religious resale shops run by various Christian churches or Jewish groups. There are some specialty type thrift boutiques like The Assistance League Bargain Bazaar that are just plain inspiring for the range of quality "normal" clothes that real, not "reel", people wear. For the most part I can stop at each of these shops, buy baskets full of individual items that may or may not be used on an episode all for hundreds, not thousands of dollars! Plus I'm recycling, reusing and making a real character jump from the written page. That's how our stock room comes to be.
Brenda has been going through a color crisis in these five episodes that parallels her personal crisis of will she or won't she be getting hitched so I'm puling out color more than offering it. She sports a Pure Collection baby blue twin set and Michael Kors grey slacks at the crime scene and tops it with her H&M Madonna collection White leather trench coat. It was chilly when we shot the scene and I did buy a supremely soft long cashmere scarf from Nordstrom, in a complementary blue that she wrapped about her neck. I pulled out her good ol' Kitty p.j.s at home and then put together an Irene rust jacket with a black stripe across the chest and a pair of Kors black pants. Michael Kors pants this past season were phenomenal in fit and fabric... but not price. An LAPD cop could NEVER afford his pants.
It was fun to put our guys in trench coats and top coats and Eric and I had fun choosing just the right silhouette from stock or thrift for each of the boys. Our guest stars were all perfectly normal in traditional suits and ties, although I did play up the color factor with Stroh's ties in opposition to Brenda. The neighbors were bland in khaki and earth tone stripes and additions of coats and layers of sweaters. Even our victim and alleged perp were pulled out of stock and aged and distressed with great finesse.
Sometimes The Closer Stockroom becomes a depository for our very own used and ready to donate clothes from our very own closets. You may see a tragically outdated pair of Lucky jeans from one of my fashion faux pas of the '90's, some of Eric's Calvin Klein t-shirts with just the right bit of wear and tear at the neckline, an original Levi's jean jacket from my high school days that I covet and unfortunately left on a wardrobe rack and one of my costumers put into stock and I thought it to be lost and gone forever until I offered a $100.00 reward for it's return, it's back in my closet; even a very expensive 1987 Chanel Suit that my mom no longer wanted is in the petite section of the Closer store. My neighbor, Stephanie Fujii donated all of her grandmother's antique costume jewelry to me years ago, including hard to find suites of rhinestone jewelry that feature, earrings, a brooch, a necklace and a bracelet all matching and in mint condition, ropes of pearls and gaggles of earrings from studs to shoulder dusters all collected from the 40's, 50's and 60's!!! It's a go to destination for the perfect accessory.
So I don't always have to name drop in this blog, that I scored this or that at Barney's, Neimans or Fred Segal...it may have come from Chez Greg or Maison Eric or Salon du Salvation Army.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer/speaker and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc.