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Episode 606: "Off the Hook" - August 16, 2010
As I write this Fashion File we are currently shooting Episode 610 and the details of tonights episode are a blur, because so much has been going on in Closer-land! This past week there was a Closer Fashion Event staged at two Southern California Bloomingdales. The premise was: to come and meet me and have me help you dress like Brenda Leigh! Closer chocolates were given as swag, I pulled au currant clothes from Elli Tahari, Donna Karan, St. John, Ralph Lauren and Armani which long legged, stunningly gorgeous models showcased and did perfect runway walks through the New View Department as a DVD of me doing my deeds as designer at The Closer explained my process, Stella even made a cameo! It was a day at Century City and Sherman Oaks with many ladies that were familiar with the show and many that had not yet heard of BLJ but were interested in hearing how they too could become a version of Brenda. Even a "Super Fan" took a bus to come and meet me! I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the general public truly is!
However, the Facebook announcement of the "Closer Fashion Event" made me wonder and doubt that before I actually arrived by limo to the store ... there were over a hundred comments, the majority positive, but 3 negative comments stuck in my head as I dazzled the ladies who lunch. One post remarked about the "event" with this reply: "really ... I mean really?" Now did she mean "really" how cool is this? or "really" who cares??? Then another accused the "stylist," which I am NOT, I am a DESIGNER, of being on crack! I would like to confirm that I am NOT on crack ... and another stated that the "person" who dresses Brenda sucks ... well ... the posterior of a persons body ... again something I don't do! How is it that 3 negative comments can cloud a hundred good ones? I must admit that I forgot about those 3 comments when I got into the stores and met with the lovely ladies and saw the stunning models looking like career gals just like Brenda, but with a more modern twist, and I guess in reality that's where the 3 negative nellies really don't get what I do ... I create a character: Brenda Leigh Johnson. Brenda doesn't shop at Bloomingdales; I do. Brenda could care less about "current fashion," well, except for shoes perhaps; but I do, and what I do is shop till I drop for "Character Clothes" something that defines an actor, not because it's pretty or something that you might buy, but to inform the audience who these pretend people are ... and I must say I do it well! ... without the help of crack and really, I mean really, the only person that really matters is Kyra and she seems to be very, very satisfied.
In this episode the underlying color of red played a major part in my designs for The Closer costumes, and that incredible Irene vintage suit Brenda wore the entire episode. A couple weeks ago the long ago shuttered, former art deco castle of fashion, Bullocks Wilshire was opened for one Saturday afternoon to a select group of people who reserved very special space for a tour and tea. Mary Hall the creator and writer of The Recessionista Blog invited me to join her for this very VIP event, the real draw was a tour of the original Irene Salon. My palms were sweaty, my heart raced as we walked through the former department store now the Southwest School of Law, who has kept the grand allure of the interior design intact and worked their law school around the grande dame of fashion. I took my mom shopping there many times and closed my eyes and saw us walking through the cosmetics arcade, into ladies sportswear and the crystal gallery, then the tour, led by a real character who added personal stories and bits of bawdy gossip to her monologue headed us up the curving staircase to ... gasp ... the Irene Salon. I stood there in the gray and cream circular salon and again with eyes closed I felt the late, great Irene's presence, more so than when I visited her grave at Forest Lawn and, yeah, I know this is a little woo hoo kooky, but I felt her approval of me keeping her flame alive by putting her 60 year old American Couture on a 21st century TV star in the grandest of fashion! I lingered in the space as the rest of the tour wafted into the couture salon. Later we all adjourned for high tea in the famous top floor tea room. Mary and I sat there talking about fashion and Irene, and blogging and shopping at BW and The Closer and NY Fashion Week and and and ... what a glorious afternoon.
So since Kyra wore the red and cocoa striped Irene all episode with a new pair of sensible heeled Manolos and my squad stayed in the same change all episode the guest stars were the only changes to "Off the Hook." Jon Seda played Vericho, the catalyst for the entire story, I dressed him as real as possible in "on sale" Macy's sport coats, slacks and shirts and ties in a monochromatic palette. (I profile Seda in this week's Hemm-ing and Haw-ing.) A fun character in the costume sense, was the killer, Ann Weber. I wanted something very nondescript, so sent Tracey to any and all thrift stores in the area and she came back with the brilliant combo of black outdated sweater, an actual Vince gray cotton ruffle front blouse and this really awful gray floral print skirt that fell nearly to the floor! The petite actress cast as Ann Weber embraced the thrift store fashion and embodied the still grieving wife. What a contrast ... from thrift store reality to the memories of shopping as an art form at Bullocks Wilshire!
A unique footnote to this episode's dialogue, as Gabriel and Brenda drive Ann Weber "home"... Gabriel say's the streets are closed due to the President being in town and [as I write this on] August 16, 2010, President Obama is really in town! Really ... I mean really!!! And I had to wind my way home through road blocks and police cars ... really!