'60s Designer Marlene Stewart turns her attention from 'The Doors' to 'JFK'

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE

May 30, 1991|By Jane Sumner | Jane Sumner,Dallas Morning News

Somewhere there's a man who should thank his lucky stars for Marlene Stewart's sense of humor. He's the bozo who told the "JFK" costume designer: " 'The Doors' must have been an easy movie to do. Everyone just wore their own clothes."

"I could have killed him," says the designer whose costume credits include all of Madonna's music videos and tours since 1984, as well as the principal costumes for "The Doors," and overseeing the garb of up to 20,000 extras.

And yes, Ms. Stewart was in the center of the celebrated Jim Morrison leather pants issue.

"Again, this is the difference between a movie and reality," she says. "We did have his [Jim Morrison's] real leather pants. Val Kilmer tried them on, and they were so ill-fitting. He couldn't move in them, that's for sure. They'd aged to perfection. He couldn't bend or anything. They just didn't have leather pants like they do now. We had to make 20 pairs of leather pants for him, and some were made out of synthetic leather. It doesn't breathe any more than leather, but it doesn't stretch."

Since February, the Fashion Institute of Technology graduate who started out as a California designer has been doing "the other part of the '60s" for Oliver Stone's next movie, "JFK."

To key period clothing to the proper time frame, Ms. Stewart relies on two bibles -- Vogue magazine and the Sears catalog.

"What you do is cross-reference the catalog with Vogue because by the time it gets to Sears, you know that it's in Middle America already. We talked to a lot of people. We have up-close photographs. We try to be as accurate as we can."

The pink boucle suit (the original was from Chanel) that actress Jodi Farber wears as Jacqueline Kennedy was custom made from pictures. "I haven't seen her original one," Ms.Stewart says, "but it's as exact as you can get with the huge photographs with all the details blown up. We could tell the fabric by looking."

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