Costuming Challenges

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Fashion hits and misses and "Best of the Web"

Let's address dress. Wardrobe. Costumes. What the actors wear in front of the camera. Choices made by a department hired to measure, fit and shop for clothes. Hopefully, wonderful clothes. Clothes that enhance the actor's attributes, flatter their coloring, and come fresh from the latest fashion magazines. Imagine being the lucky stiff who gets to measure Austin Peck's pecks? Or see more of Shamar Moore! LOL A fun job? You betcha. Combined with brutally long hours, careful attention to detail, and tons of schlepping! However, some soaps have mastered the art far better than others, IMHO.

Moving from soapdom to syndication for a moment

Do you know that on Baywatch each actress has her bathing suit fit to order? If she boasts legs that go from here to there and back again, but is not that robust up top, the costumers create swimsuits with a high thigh cut to enhance her legs. If she's ample on top, but her legs are a little thick, her suit is cut to capitalize on the features of the upper body, and minimize the faults of the lower. In other words, each actor's body type is taken into consideration, and the clothes are made to draw the viewers' attention to the best attributes. A bit contrived? Maybe. But Baywatch is one of the most watched television series in the world!

Therefore, it could be argued that a more subtle reason why Young & the Restless remains the top-rated soap opera is the wardrobe department, headed by Costume Designer, Jennifer Johns. From Newman Industries stuffy BoardRoom to the Coffee House hangout of Billy and Mac, the cast of Y&R is always dressed for success. The suits selected for Jess Walton (Jill) are spectacular. She can go from being the sophisticated businesswoman during the day, to the sexy, troubled, vixen at night, with nary a costume change. Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) was dashing smashing Diane on Friday's show. What a fun jumper ensemble for throwing a punch! Whether relaxing at home, embroiled in some dangerous adventure, or working hard at the office, Victor Newman and John and Jack Abbot always look like the successful businessmen they were written to be. Jerry Douglas (John Abbot) once commented that no matter what he is doing or where he is, as soon as he puts on a certain kind of suit, he IS John Abbott. Poof, like magic. Even in his home life, something that is noticeable to his real-life wife, Kimberly.

Guiding Light's wardrobe department likewise does an exceptional job in enhancing the actor's attributes. The San Cristobel scenes -- wonderfully costumed. (By the way, I am putting in my order for a Richard. LOL) The Bold & the Beautiful also never disappoints. But that's a given. It's about the fashion industry!

As the World Turns wardrobe department will have its hands full, as three of it's major female castmembers Lesli Kay Sterling (Molly), Maura West (Carly), and Ellen Dolan (Margo), all with front-burner storylines, are pregnant. As of this writing, none of the pregnancies are being written into the show, creating a major challenge for the costume department, "who is busy sewing outfits designed to mask weight gain," said the New York Post cover story on Sunday, October 17, 1999! (Thanks JudgeJud for bringing it to my attention. ;o)

Days of Our Lives must be commended for the wonderful hair/make-up/wardrobe combinations used to differentiate Princess Gina and Hope. I am willing to bet the farm (if I had one ;o) that it is the single most significant device that helps Kristian Alfonso create and sustain both characters. Costume designer, Richard Boone and make-up artists Corina Duran and Richard Snell (prosthetics) are to be congratulated.

General Hospital's 1996 Emmy Award-winning Costume Designers Bob Miller, Steve Howard and Nancy L. Konrardy come close on most occasions with dynamic wardrobe choices for the denizens of Port Charles. Maurice Bernard (Sonny) in a snug-fitting sweater or T-shirt, topped with a finely tailored jacket says: "Don't mess with me, but I am open to discussion." Excellent!

I am also very excited about Richard Shurkump joining All My Children as the new Costume Designer. It's about time. AMC, although one of my favorite soaps, was a consistent disappointment in the wardrobe department. Some of the recent choices for Michael E. Knight (Tad) for example, left me cold. What were they thinking with those baggy khaki pants and a shirt that looked like a reject from a homeless person's shopping cart? Just because Tad's become a responsible husband and father, don't turn the cad into a frump. Even some of the costumes for Susan Lucci (Erica) were poor choices, IMHO. She's a diva, yes. With a wonderful, petite figure. But don't dress her like a hooker. Glad to say, under Shurkump's influence, things are looking up. I loved the black evening dress Erica wore last week, and didn't James Mitchell (Palmer) look handsome and distinguished in that burgundy sports jacket? How it complimented his coloring!

Passions is a whole other story, and one I am not going to touch with the proverbial ten-foot poll at this early juncture in the show's history.

What do you guys think? Do you love the way your favorite characters are dressed? Or would you rather there be a little more undressing? Just kidding. But these are soaps, right? LOL. Please share your thoughts on the Turtle-Run message boards.

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