episode 506 - July 13, 2009
Peacocking. We all do it to a certain extent. Dressing to impress or show off or attract or even to fade into the wallpaper. For years I dressed the part of the "costume designer", thinking the trendiest most fashionable out-there outfit was what would set me apart in Hollywood, make me irresistible... all it did was lose me jobs. What producers want to see is not that you personally dress creatively, but that you can creatively dress a character. A wise producer, not an Intrigue type, told me to ditch the outlandish garb and wear a uniform: khakis, a white shirt and a blue blazer, boring I thought, but I went to the Gap and bought the items and I started booking the jobs, that "uniform" let producers assign nothing to me but the fact that I could create a character and that the "normal dressed" guy might know how to stay on budget. Kind of costume designer Edith Head's philosophy. It became my mode of dress form many years until I switched to all black...but that's a whole other story. So Intrigue's advice to "peacock" may work on TV. but not in any real life I know of. However, the character of Intrigue was fascinating because before I ever did my research, I got a Paul Revere and the Raiders vibe and sketched in my script that Intrigue was shot in the very design you saw on TV., a vintage marching band jacket that I had the tailor shop embellish with silver and gold braid, cut velvet collar and cuffs and re-embroidered lace ruffles popping out of the sleeves. You could barely see the vintage buff leather cowboy boots found at the coolest vintage store on Hollywood Blvd. It's my go-to destination for anything thrift shop chic and the prices can't be beat. The more you buy they throw in a gift with purchase, perhaps a wisp of a chiffon scarf, a feather boa or some costume jewelry.
Marie the screaming assistant of Jill Pappas was originally sketched as a 1980's redux but it was a bit over the top for my producers, so I toned her down but kept the inspiration, Tracey, my shopper brought me back a great Marc Jacobs baby doll dress and I added a pair of black above the ankle leggings, a pair of bondage high heels and the cutest Betsy Johnson dangle necklace, if you could get past the obnoxious screaming the outfit was darling. Jill Pappas, in my mind, needed to be the stereotype of almost every low budget producer in Hollywood, a black suit and white shirt and some gold chains with diamonds hanging, but during the wardrobe show and tell, my producers thought the black suit to be too on the nose, change it to navy--done! Jill wore a navy Theory suit and white blouse. I showed Stacey K. Black my sketch which featured this sleek suit and slicked back hair, and she and Mary came up with the pulled back high pony tail that was perfection for the producer of Slag TV.
Since this script had a bit of levity to its tone and writing I decided to play with a bit more color for Brenda. A few years ago I had picked up the cantaloupe linen suit at The Way We Wore. It was a pristine Irene, designed in linen for Goldwater’s Dept. Store in Arizona. Irene constantly amazes me because she obviously designed suits specific to the climates that were selling the goods. This 3 piece suit definitely had a southwest style to it, from the crescent welt pockets piped in white linen, a pencil skirt with a slit tipped by an embroidered arrowhead and a knee length duster coat with a back slit all the way to the shoulders. The entire look was way too much for Brenda to be believable so I had the tailor shop whip up a slim fitting sheath dress of vintage silk in a chinoiserie lattice print of melon, persimmon and gold and green. It hugged all of Kyra's curves and was the perfect accomplice for the Irene jacket.
You loyal Fashion File readers know of my affection...no make that obsession with Irene. For some reason, since there has been such a response to Brenda wearing the Irene's I felt I owed her some nod of gratitude and since Miss Irene died tragically in 1962, after slitting her wrists, which didn't work, she then jumped to her death from the top floor of Hollywood's Knickerbocker Hotel, thus making it impossible to thank her in person. So I conned my costume supervisor, the very patient and always up for an adventure with the other side, Eric Van Wagoner and we drove out to the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. We were on a mission to find the grave of Irene Lentz Gibbons. Well, we searched for an hour in the columbarium where I thought the location of Irene's niche was supposed to be, but even with Eric crawling along on his hands and knees licking his finger, using the saliva to shine up the aged bronze name plaques and me scooting along on my tusche peering at every name from the floor up, we just couldn't find Irene's final resting place, so I spoke aloud the words of thanks and begged Irene to give us a sign, I even waved about a photo of Kyra in one of Irene's suits, but alas, no sign and no discovery of the grave site. I certainly hope that Irene saw me, heard me and perhaps smiled knowing that I am continuing her legacy of powerful feminine suits for the working woman. So much for the obsession. Don't say it I already know it...I'm crazy obsessed, but I prefer to be called an eccentric. After the couple hours of "grave digging" we adjourned to In n Out for a well deserved double double. Where else but Hollywood could you be paid to search for a long gone costume designer's final resting place and get a hamburger to boot.
And where else but Hollywood could a nut job impersonate an LAPD detective, but Dick Tracey looked perfectly sane in a gray suit, white shirt and blue rep tie, the perfect foil for Brenda in cantaloupe linen! And like Dick, often times in my reading of scripts and sketching costumes in the margins and shopping the vintage stores and department stores I am fast as lightening and fly like the wind all to get it done by the time the next script shows up on my desk...and one day I will find Miss Irene and drop off the little photo of Kyra in her suit and maybe a Brenda pink rose, just because.
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