<I>Variety</I> gives the lowdown on influential actor-designer collaborations
Travis Banton and Marlene Dietrich (1930s)Banton capitalized on Dietrich’s ambiguous sexuality and fabulous legs by putting her in tuxedos, pantsuits and thigh-baring skirts. Not only did Banton’s clothes flatter her long gams, but they spawned the menswear revolution for women. Their collaboration on 1935’s “The Devil Is a Woman” was particularly memorable for the saucy lace panels stitched on the front of her stockings. Adrian and Joan Crawford (1930s-40s) Legendary designer Adrian turned Crawford into a sleek, shoulder-padded dream, influencing silhouettes while merely attempting to compensate for the star’s figure flaws. The duo made dozens of films, with the designer’s tailored outfits often dubbed “architecture in fabric.” In 1932, Adrian whipped up a white confection of a dress for Crawford’s society gal in “Letty Lynton” and set off a buying frenzy at Macy’s, where women snapped up 50,000 knockoffs. Travilla and Marilyn Monroe (1950s) Costume wizard Travilla paired with Monroe on “Bus Stop,” “How to Marry a Millionaire,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “The Seven Year Itch,” sealing her sex goddess status with clingy halter tops and strapless dresses. The actress made a sensational entrance at a press event for “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in a gold lame gown Travilla designed for her. Hollywood columnist James Bacon described her prominent derriere encased in the dress as two puppies fighting under a blanket. Theadora Van Runkle and Faye Dunaway (1960s) Artist-turned-costume designer Van Runkle set worldwide fashion trends with her elegant yet simple 1930s wardrobe for Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie and Clyde.” The film is credited with a sudden drop in hemlines during the mini-skirted ’60s, causing retailers to rush midlength outfits onto the racks. Van Runkle and Dunaway created more movie magic with “The Arrangement” and “The Thomas Crown Affair,” where Van Runkle’s timeless designs highlighted Dunaway’s appeal. Bob Mackie and Cher (1970s) With and without Sonny on TV, designer Mackie made costumes that ensured viewers would tune in every week to see what daring confection Cher would wear. The star’s lean torso proved the ultimate canvas for Mackie’s dripping gowns, part Erte, part Vegas showgirl. Whether singing “Half Breed” in skimpy Indian get-ups or mocking her marriage in clingy Quiana halter gowns, the pair made costume history. Her memorable Oscar gowns further cemented their design partnership in the public’s mind. Ellen Mirojnick and Michael Douglas (1980s) Costume designer Mirojnick crafted the screen image of Douglas in numerous films, but her impeccably tailored suits and white-collared shirts for “Wall Street” big shot Gordon Gekko truly tweaked the national zeitgeist. Other Mirojnick-designed films that sizzle with Douglas’ dangerous machismo include “Fatal Attraction,” “Black Rain,” “Basic Instinct,” “A Perfect Murder” and “Don’t Say a Word.” Jeffrey Kurland and Julia Roberts (1990s) Kurland’s first film with Roberts not only cemented their lengthy working relationship, but helped launch a whole new look in bridal and formal wear. “My Best Friend’s Wedding” led to numerous fruitful collaborations, including “Erin Brokovich,” “America’s Sweethearts” and “Ocean’s Eleven,” where Kurland’s impeccably crafted clothes highlight Roberts’ sexy innocence.
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