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10 posts tagged "HBO"

Giving The Glitter Man His Glitter


Michael Douglas as Liberace in "Behind the Candelabra"

Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, takes its tagline from its extravagant subject: “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Too much was the standing order for Liberace (a.k.a.  The Glitter Man), who dazzled audiences with his virtuosic piano playing and even more virtuosic taste for fashion and decor in the 1970s and ’80s. That put a lot of pressure on costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, who was tasked with creating clothes for one of the twentieth-century’s most famous clotheshorses—the more fur and sequins, the better. Along with the film’s hair, makeup, and production teams, the BAFTA- and Emmy-nominated designer transformed her longtime collaborator Michael Douglas (the two have worked together since Fatal Attraction) and Matt Damon into bronzed, bedecked visions of Liberace and his lover, Scott Thorson. From Atlanta, where she’s working on her next project, the street-racing action flick Need for Speed, Mirojnick spoke to about flamboyance, functionality, and sixteen feet of white fur.

Behind the Candelabra premieres Sunday, May 26, on HBO.

Tell me a little about the research you did to prepare for this film.
First and foremost, I watched as much video as I possibly could. There’s quite a lot of videos of Liberace’s shows—you know, his early TV shows, his stage shows—up until through Radio City, so that spans, like, thirty years. We were actually very fortunate to be able to, through the Liberace Foundation, work with an archivist and see everything, as much as we possibly could. I would say it was quite a lot of research and quite a bit of a cross-section from his personal life on through his stage life, so it was pretty great.

Matt Damon as Scott Thorson in "Behind the Candelabra"Did you get feedback from the actors that the costumes helped them to develop their characters?
Yes, absolutely. It was very evident early on that one of the challenges that I had to meet was what was going to be that piece that would help Michael Douglas and help Matt Damon transform. There was a magical element that occurred with both men, and it had to do with the rings that Michael Douglas wore as Liberace and Matt Damon wore as Scott Thorson, and in Michael Douglas’ case, putting on the white fur iconic coat. To watch him walk and watch him move with the sixteen-foot train…he needed to understand that there was a different body language. As soon as he put that coat on and his body started to move, he molded into Liberace beautifully. And in the case of Matt Damon, as soon as he put his jewelry on, he melded into Scott Thorson.

Given the materials, did you run into issues of weight and mobility for these pieces?
Oh, absolutely. What we discovered in research is the weight of Liberace’s costumes—the design and the weight was extraordinary. Michael Travis did work for Liberace in the same period of time [as the film depicts], 1977 to 1982, and he is an exquisite designer. His work was extraordinarily textured, many different levels of embellishment and stoning, and so on. And those stones in those days were hard-punched, which meant that metal in itself added weight. Now we are able to have a creation that is not as heavy, and clearly [the costume] was not something that had to be worn every night, twice a night. But the weight… for example, the coat that we made did weigh more than twenty pounds, but the [original] coat probably weighed seventy-five or more. His costume could weigh seventy-five pounds in real life.

You’ve said that your role as a costume designer is to interpret the director’s vision for his characters. What kind of discussions did you and Steven Soderbergh have as you were fleshing out Liberace and Scott’s characters? What was his vision for these two?
We looked at all the visual research that we had accumulated—photographs, books, show pamphlets, and especially the black-and-white imagery of Scott and Liberace—we looked at all of it. There were elements that Steven responded to, for example, their twinlike effect. He said, “Look, I just really want you to do it straight. I want it as is, no tricks.” And he wanted to create a story that was authentic. So we basically had the luxury of designing the entire film and just delivering it to Steven, and he captured it in the most magnificent way. He really was after the reality of what—if you could believe this—really existed, of what they were, who they were to one another, how they lived their lifestyle. And there were some photos that were actual terrific inspirations, and then you just go off from there and design. Continue Reading “Giving The Glitter Man His Glitter” »

Fly The V&R Skies, Check Out The Newest Fashion Show (On TV, That Is), Get Inside Anna Dello Russo’s Closet, And More…


Viktor & Rolf have got a brand-new bag—an airline bag, to be precise. The Dutch design duo has created a special amenity kit for KLM’s business-class passengers. The bow-front bag comes stocked with toothpaste and a toothbrush, an eye mask, lip balm, face cream, socks, a pen, and ear plugs. (For gents, there’s a bow-less version, too.) Not a bad reason to upgrade. [Viktor & Rolf]

The September Issue‘s R.J. Cutler returns: Deadline Hollywood reports that HBO has green-lit a Cutler-produced half-hour comedy pilot about the fashion industry, Spring/Fall. Téa Leoni will star as half of a dysfunctional pair of partners in the fashion industry; Kate Robin, formerly a writer-producer on HBO’s Six Feet Under, penned the script. [Deadline via Daily Front Row]

Is Anna Dello Russo a “total fashion victim”? That’s not the haters talking; that’s ADR herself, explaining her look to CNN. She seems to be in pretty good spirits about it—and we would be too with a closet like hers. Check out the video for a look inside her Paris fashion week suite at the Ritz. [Fashionologie]

Calling all sole men: T spotlights a curious new trend in menswear—vibrantly colored soles on men’s shoes. Well, it worked for Louboutin… [T]

Photo: Courtesy of Viktor & Rolf

Fêtes For Fashion’s Must-See TV


As if there weren’t enough fashion swirling around this week, two new TV shows about the biz threw kickoff parties last night: HBO’s How to Make It in America and the Sundance Channel’s Web-based documentary miniseries Catwalk Countdown. The latter invited its featured designers to take a break from last-minute preparations at the Standard’s new poolside lounge and, er, wet bar on the 18th floor, where Erin Fetherston was haunted by visions of the impending blizzard. “We need to get models in the door,” she fretted. “And we need those boots! Last I heard, they were in Kentucky.” The countdown had begun.

Vena Cava’s Sophie Buhai revealed to us that she and Lisa Mayock have small roles in a fashion-oriented zombie movie (written and directed by photographer Elizabeth Lippman) that’s contending for a spot at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The designer pair didn’t have a whole lot of time to talk about it, though. “We’re leaving after this to go have a pricing meeting—back to being a garmento,” Buhai said.

That busy mixture of work and fun is the subject of How to Make It in America, an ensemble drama about young creative types in New York. The cast (which includes Lake Bell and Bryan Greenberg) joined some big-time suits and HBO players Adrian Grenier and Chloë Sevigny (pictured with Greenberg, above) for a Cinema Society screening and after-party at the Bowery Hotel. Did current Angeleno Ian Edelman’s new series pass the New York authenticity test? “Ian knows his stuff,” native Upper West Sider Leelee Sobieski decided. The series—whose major plotline at this point revolves around two friends trying to launch a denim line—comes courtesy of the producers of Entourage, and Grenier half-jokingly declared himself a wee bit jealous. “They better watch their back!”

Plus, check out our Q&A with How to Make It creator and writer Ian Edelman here.

Photo: Billy Farrell / Patrick McMullan

How He Made How To Make It In America


You may not know who Ian Edelman is, but you’re about to enter his world. Edelman (pictured, with Victor Rasuk) is the creator of the new HBO series How to Make It in America, which stars Bryan Greenberg, Rasuk, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, and Lake Bell in the red-hot center of the downtown New York art and fashion scene. Locations such as Avenue and La Esquina will feel suggestively familiar to members of the city’s real-life fashion set; so too will series story lines about, say, day-jobbing at Barneys and trying to launch a denim line. Here, Edelman talks with about American dreams, New York stories, and what he learned from the Pegleg designers.

This show strikes me as possibly autobiographical. Is Ben you? Did you make an abortive effort to launch a denim line in your twenties?
Actually, the idea for the show came from me reading about all these American success stories and getting inspired. I mean, look at Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lifshitz from the Bronx, he gets his foot in the door of the fashion industry and through sheer, you know, vision and hustle, winds up creating the first lifestyle brand. He’s an icon and a gazillionaire. And I started wondering, how would that story play out in the world I know?

Which is where the autobiographical tone comes in, I suppose. You do a good job setting up that downtown skate/art demimonde.
Yeah, well, I grew up in New York, skating, playing basketball, and I wanted to show that world off. But I’ll tell you who did have a clothing line, if you want autobiography—Stephen Levinson, who’s the executive producer of this show and of Entourage. HBO put us together after they bought the pitch for How to Make It in America, and one of the ideas he brought to the table was this story of trying to start a sportswear brand, because that was something he’d done, pre-Hollywood.

Did your original concept for the show change much through development?
The show did turn into more of an ensemble piece than I’d imagined.

I guess I’m mostly wondering if the show you’d conceived got Entourage-ed.
Well, obviously, they’ve had a ton of success with Entourage, and so there were conversations like, OK, here’s something we know works for Entourage, story-wise; is there a way we can use that? And there are similarities. But there’s a huge difference, too: How to Make It in America is not wish-fulfillment television. These guys are strivers; they get into a club because they know the bouncer, not because anybody’s a movie star.

Continue Reading “How He Made How To Make It In America” »

Rags Time: Marc Levin On HBO Doc Schmatta


Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags, Marc Levin’s history of the Garment District, airs tonight on HBO. After tracing the origins of the New York City rag trade back to immigrant-staffed sweatshops like the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Levin proceeds to track the rise of the Garment District—those mid-century decades when approximately 95 percent of the clothing sold in the United States was made domestically, making it the number one employer in New York City. Times, needless to say, have changed. Today, close to 95 percent of the clothing sold in the United States is made abroad, making the Garment District so much a shadow of its former self that a fight to save it from extinction is currently being waged. Schmatta tracks that devolution, as well. In so doing, the film raises important questions about how the fashion industry infrastructure we currently take for granted will be forced to adapt in the post-recession, post-Inconvenient Truth era. Here, Levin talks to about fashion as microcosm, his own rag trade genealogy, and the fact that he’s not trying to be Michael Moore.

You’ve got a lengthy filmmaking résumé, and nothing on it indicates an interest in fashion. What made you want to tell this story?

It was a curveball, actually. I went to Sheila Nevins at HBO with an idea for a documentary about hedge funds, and while we were sitting there, brainstorming, she brought up the fact that her blouse was made in China, her pants in Bangladesh, and so on. She thought there was a story there, and she suggested I go check out the Garment Center. I said, “You want me to do something on the schmatta business?” And she said, “Schmatta. Great title.” That’s how things get done, sometimes. Continue Reading “Rags Time: Marc Levin On HBO Doc Schmatta” »