by Kellye Whitney (Chicago)
Film Duds (Debut) : Film and
I consider myself an instinctive style-manager. Someone who,
perhaps because of a quirky gene, loves clothes, shopping, and
thinks celebrity photos are only worth looking at when the captions
include designer names. "Film Duds" is a testament to my love of
film and fashion. This column is meant to be humorous commentary
on the ever-changing and frequently wild relationship between
clothes and movies, celebrities and designers. Case in point, the
73rd Annual Academy Award show. Yes, it's a star bright collection
of top o' the line acting talent, all vying to cement careers, reap
the admiration of their peers, and take home a bald-headed gold
statuette named Oscar. But where would the Oscars be without
Versace, Badgley Mischka (who outdid themselves on La Halle's
lavender gown this year) and Valentino? The red carpet, the
preening and the rhythmic pop of flashbulbs are as much a part of
the show as the nominations. Fashion and film are intrinsically
intertwined. You'll see.
Man. Man. Man. How many times can a sister get her heart broke
before she starts shootin' up your crib with a wedding gown on?
Screen Gems latest release "The Brothers," starring Morris Chestnut
(Jackson), D.L. Hughley (Derrick), Shemar Moore (Terry), and Bill
Bellamy (Brian) portrays a group of urban professionals who are
close friends, suavely attired, and hopelessly
Costume Designer Debrae K. Little, whose credits include "Down
to Earth" and TV's "Smart Guy," experimented with lots of different
colors and textures to create each brother's personal style. The
fellas were immaculately turned out in almost every scene. The only
time they were even remotely casual was on the basketball court.
This was also one of the few times I saw the color black, and even
then, rippling muscles and snazzy Adidas logos offered ample
decoration. For the sisters there were patchy little crocheted
tops, a red pleather off-the-shoulder dress, flower patterns,
animal prints, and even a few rhinestones.
Off-beat color combinations were popular too, particularly in
the men's suits. We saw dark on light, light on light, lots of
pastel ties, and rough and smooth fabrics together like Clifton
Powell (Jackson's daddy) in a thickly woven yellow jacket with a
true-blue cotton button-down. The ultimate color scheme came at the
end of the film with the Smith family's coordinating baby blue and
cream wedding outfits. They were the perfect morning suits to
enhance father and son's chocolatey brown skin.
There were a few standout accessories. Marla Gibbs' (Derrick's
mother) ruched knit hat was old and new, as was Gabrielle Union's
(Denise) ethnic/homegirl flavor in a paisley head-kerchief and hot
pants in an embossed orange-colored fabric. As Jenifer Lewis
(Jackson's momma) waited for her ex-hubby to appear for an intimate
dinner, she shielded her low-cut bosom with a luxurious,
satiny-black stole. Little also used a lot of colorful costume
jewelry to offset varied hues of smooth brown skin. The only
serious fashion no-no came when Tatyana Ali (Jackson's baby sis)
appeared at her brothers surprise party wearing a bright yellow top
and pink and white patterned pants. Luckily we only saw those
granny bottoms for a second and only from the back!
"Heartbreakers" starring Sigourney Weaver (Max) and Jennifer
Love Hewitt (Page) is a not so original con-artist flick with a new
twist. Or should I say, a more fashionable take on the unique
relationship between a man, a woman, and his money. More intriguing
is the love/hate relationship between Page and Max. A mothers love
is a serious thing. In this film it's strong enough to inspire a
con... 'You won't be able to make it without me. You don't have the
experience. You're going to fall in love with the first man you
kiss with your eyes closed and you'll call it love.' And mom was
right. Lucky for Page, Jason Lee (Jack) was a good guy.
There were some hilarious scenes with veteran actors Ray Liotta
(Dean) and Gene Hackman. As tobacco millionaire William B. Tensy,
Hackman oozed smoke from every pore, and smiled angelically to
display tar blackened teeth and a bibulous red nose. The
exaggerated make-up was the perfect foil for Tensy's moneyed gear.
Elegantly tailored suits in royal blue with a satin coral-patterned
tie, a tan argyle golf vest and matching knee pants, and the piece
de resistance, sock suspenders!
But when the warm Palm Beach sun shone on Page and Max, it was
all about the accessories! Cute little animal print bags, fringed
shawls, sleek silver flip phones and past-the-elbow gloves. But the
most eye-catching accessories of all came naturally. After all,
there's nothing like a little T & A to get, and keep, a man's
attention. Costume Designers Ann Roth and Gary Jones collaborated
to dress Sigourney as a Russian vixen one minute, gangster moll the
But the young scream queen, Ms. Hewitt if you're nasty, was all
about the mini. If you doubted they were coming back in style, she
put theory to rest. Titty controversy aside, Jennifer worked each
dress like a 9 to 5 gig. Barely there slip dresses with
Madonna-esque underwear peeking out of low-cut necklines. See
through hot pants with thongs and bandaid tops. Four-inch plus
heels with peek-a-boo toes and sexy straps, all lovingly following
every voluptuous curve. It was like the feminine mystique explained
without words, evolution in one film frame. She was something. The
words 'death defying gravity' come to mind. But without the
attitude, without the switch? The outfits would have been
worthless. The switch made everything come together seamlessly.
That seductive roll of the hips can mean absolutely everything to
the right dress.
Sometimes being undressed is the best outfit of all
There's something about a man in a well-tailored suit. There's
something even more appealing about a man without one! Costume
Designer Jennifer Bryan had to do next to nothing to make the male
cast of "Exit Wounds" look good. Many of the scenes took place
inside a police locker room or gym so there was a veritable feast
of firm, muscular flesh to ogle, and that's one of the best outfits
a brother can wear!
DMX (Latrell Walker) strode purposefully around the screen in
his trademark white t-shirt, black leather and requisite puffy
coat. He also filled out a super soft gray turtleneck sweater well.
But the show stopper came when he put on a wine-colored two-piece
suit with a deep blue button down shirt. Director Andrzej
Bartkowiak knew what he was doing. He made that scene one of DMX's
best, lovingly following the lines of his body as he adjusted his
lapels and straightened his jacket.
Poor Steven Seagal got the short stick in this flick. It was
classic, even stereotypical Seagal action for the most part.
Seagal's wardrobe was as uninspired as his acting, with lots of
dark colors and clunky black cop shoes. But once the twist came
down and DMX revealed himself as a good guy, a savvy businessman,
and an all around concerned citizen, I was hooked. It made me sad,
thinking about all that talent, all that dark brown skin under
those jazzy clothes, and how he seems determined to act a complete
fool when he's playing himself! Arthur Anderson and Isaiah
Washington put in solid supporting roles. Anderson proved a good
point. Even big brothers can look good in a suit. It's all in the
attitude, and his pink and black geometric print shirt under a
black suit had plenty of it!
War is hell on fashion
A day in the life of a Russian sniper is not a glamorous thing.
There are no clean clothes, there is barely clean water, and the
only colors to be seen for miles are muddy green, muddy brown, and
the dull or bright red shades of new and old blood.
"Enemy at the Gates" gave a graphic and realistic depiction of
Russia's defense of Stalingrad during World War II. Snipers crawled
through the bombed ruins of the city and picked off key officials
at every opportunity, so it's no surprise the costumes weren't
terribly flamboyant. The film did play up the military styles that
are currently en vogue. But designers like Celine and Marc Jacobs
cannot compete with the bright sky blue of Jude Law's eyes for
Law portrayed Russian sniper and national hero Vassili Zaitsev,
whose celebrated gun was as much a part of his costume as the army
green fatigues he wore throughout the movie. Costume Designer Janty
Yates, whose credits include Hannibal and Oscar-winning Gladiator,
did a fabulous job piecing bits of fabric together to show the wear
and tear of the soldiers in the trenches and the pristine pomposity
of Russia and Germany's top officials.
Veteran actor Ed Harris turned in a noteworthy performance as
Major Konig, Zaitsev's arch-enemy and rival. He was also the only
soldier who was clean for a good portion of the film, always a
Kellye can be found at the show eating sour patch kids and
laughing at her favorite film stars. A native of Chicago, IL,
Kellye graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a BA
in news-editorial journalism. She has interviewed some of today's
leading music artists including Destiny's Child, Eric Benet and
Macy Gray. Her work has appeared in various magazines and
newspapers as well as on several Internet websites. Kellye is
excited to join the blackfilm.com family and hopes that readers
enjoy her fashion savvy column "Film Duds."