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Authenticity Sparks 'Out of Africa' Costume Designs

January 03, 1986|BETTY GOODWIN

"I'm not trying to do anything that affects fashion," Canonero cautions. "If the clothes influence fashion, it is because fashion is already there."

Although her costumes for "Chariots of Fire" covered a similar period, from 1918 to 1924, Canonero says the clothes for the two movies didn't overlap.

" 'Chariots of Fire' was England, mainly in the winter. Of course, a man's white summer suit in England in 1918 is not much different from a man's white suit in Kenya in 1918, but overall there was no crossover."

The designer says she was pleased with the final product of the film.

"I liked the way (director producer) Sydney Pollack told the story," she says, adding that Pollack "got involved in everything," including her work. "He didn't like things to look new, and now and then he'd shout at me to add a little more color, so I'd throw in a scarf."

Canonero says she tried to keep the clothes of lead characters in neutral colors--khakis, whites, ivories, and some black and navy for Streep--and leave the brighter colors for the Africans.

"Can you imagine Karen Blixen walking out in a lilac dress? What I found of original clothes seemed to be all muted colors, and also, for me, they blend better with the story, the setting and I hope with what Pollack had in mind."

Canonero mentions that the movie's stars--Streep and Redford--both have their "own styles of wearing their clothes. Meryl is fantastic. She gets into the character she is playing very, very thoroughly."

As for Redford: "He's got a very good figure. Everything you put on him, whether he likes it or not, looks good."

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