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Just Dandy, Thank You

April 16, 1993|BETTY GOODWIN

The Movie: "Benny & Joon"

*The Setup: Love story between two spacey creatures--Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson, pictured) and Sam (Johnny Depp, pictured). Benny (Aidan Quinn) is Joon's brother and protector.

*The Costume Designer: Aggie Guerard Rogers, whose work has included "American Graffiti," "The Color Purple," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "The Witches of Eastwick" and "Beetlejuice."

The Look: Magically eccentric, not quite of this world and likely to appeal to the very young and very cool. For that matter, every designer on Seventh Avenue should head to a multiplex just to behold Sam, who is the quintessence of the Victorian / Edwardian dandy thing that the fashion mainstream is now starting to discover.

Joon has her own style, utterly current but totally different. She's a cross between a thrift-shop waif and something out of one of Elsa Klensch's weird Japanese style reports on CNN. She basically wears long baggy dresses--all Lycra. Not! The hitch is that Sam and Joon are living in a Northwest town where Benny is not only normal, he's normal looking (read plaid shirts and jeans).

*Try This at Home: Study Sam's ensembles piece by piece to get the dandy look down. The pieces can work for either sex. They include a jacket that is either short, tight and boxy or a long fitted cutaway coat (Rogers tosses in an old striped prison jacket just to keep everyone on his toes); full white shirts worn with unconnected French shirt cuffs that fall over the fingertips; skinny pants that bottom out at high lace-up shoes; Dr. Seuss hats (including one top hat).

*The Sex Appeal Factor: Nothing provocative here. Romance and escapism are what fashion is about here (and now). Cut to bedroom and Sam's outfitted in a Victorian nightshirt down to his shins.

*Quoted: "It's a contrary statement against J. Crew and catalogue shopping. I go to my mailbox and throw all my catalogues out. It's a struggle for me to go in the Gap," said Rogers of her firmly escapist, anti-basics approach. "I hope kids go to this film and say, 'Why do I have to wear jeans every day? Why do I have to be unisex?' "

*Inspiration: Photographs of Buster Keaton, Japanese fashion magazines, French street look, thrift stores, history books on men's attire.

*Sources: Rogers designed most of the principals' clothes. Sam's lace-up shoes, cutaway and top hat were from the Warner Bros. costume department.

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