The Movie: "Lost in Yonkers"
The Setup: Two young brothers, Jay (Brad Stoll) and Arty (Mike Damus), are sent to live with their stern Grandma Kurnitz (Irene Worth) and strange, starved-for-love Aunt Bella (Mercedes Ruehl, pictured) in 1942. A gangster uncle, Louie (Richard Dreyfuss), also shares a couch in this screen adaptation of Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
The Costume Designer: Shelley Komarov, who received Emmys for "The Kennedys of Massachusetts" and "Peter the Great." Her other television work includes "A Woman Named Jackie" and "Sinatra." In the former Soviet Union, she designed costumes for the Kirov Ballet and the Soviet Opera Company.
The Look: Clothes that fit the lower-middle-class, small-town characters to a T.
Grandma's dark, shapeless mid-calf dresses--you figure she would have sewn them herself--and orthopedic lace-up shoes achieve a kind of Grandma archetype.
Bella's ill-fitting, one-size-too-small dresses, from which she practically bursts, make her appear as if her girlish mind can't keep up with her 36-year-old body. Saddle shoes, bobby socks and ruffled little shoulders on baby-pink dresses complete the picture. Then, a subtle fashion change hints at her emotional growth: At a confrontational family dinner, her dress--this time blue--suddenly fits properly.
The boys are outfitted in wool knickers, trousers and Norfolk-style jackets. While Dreyfuss' street gangster struts in a black pin-stripe suit, Hollywood Harry (Robert Guy Miranda), the neighborhood's successful hood, is a hoot in a celery-green suit with hand-painted Betty Grable necktie.
Don't Try This at Home: Although retro fashion enthusiasts are pouncing on '40s clothes in cute boutiques and flea markets everywhere, these will make you happy you were born in the age of spandex.
Quoted: "I've done a lot of period films, so period for me is like the back of my own hand. What was interesting for me to figure out was the look of Yonkers," said Komarov, who perused old magazines and newspapers for ideas.
Sources: Most of the costumes were custom-made and augmented with pieces rented from the Helen Larson collection in Los Angeles. Many accessories--including handbags and shoes--came from Palace Costume in Los Angeles. Others were found in vintage stores in Cincinnati, where the film was shot.