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Hollywood's Long-Running Role : It's a short leap from the big and small screens to the real world. Tinseltown doesn't just influence style, it sets it.

August 20, 1993|MARY ROURKE

From outside the state, Hollywood and Los Angeles look like interchangeable parts. And the way people here dress has a lot to do with that.

For starters, movie costumes have long been available for non-performers to rent or buy at shops like Western Costume. In addition, outfits by Hollywood designers make their way to resale shops near the studios.

More to the point, movies and TV made here inspire the way people everywhere dress. More than fashion magazines or designer shows, they set style.

Audrey Hepburn's arty, all-black Capri pants, fitted black sweater and ballet-like slippers, put together by Edith Head for "Sabrina," in 1954, resurface as a modern look every few years. So do Hepburn's pointed pixie bangs.

James Dean's rolled shirt sleeves and blue jeans from "East of Eden" in 1955 (costumes by Anna Hill Johnston), Liz Taylor's jeweled leather "Cleopatra" sandals in 1963 (Irene Sharaff, Vittorio Novarese), and Diane Keaton's multilayered, thrift shop-inspired "Annie Hall" wear in 1977 (Ruth Morley in a team of five) led to home-grown imitations and designer knockoffs.

"Out of Africa" (Milena Canonero designed the costumes for the 1985 film) was followed by a memorable collection from Ralph Lauren, with the "turn-of-the-century" cotton camisoles and blouses trimmed in lace, safari jackets and leather boots that made up Meryl Streep's look in the movie.

"Wall Street" (1987) influenced menswear for a year or more. Colored shirts, snappy suspenders and neckties, and slicked-back, wet-look hair--all key ingredients for Michael Douglas' arbitrager--launched a major menswear trend.

"Movies offer instant gratification," says costume designer Ellen Mirojnick. "Fashion magazines are an extreme, like fashion runway shows." If audiences like the look on screen, she points out, they can re-create it their own way.


Television has a major fashion effect, too, especially on teen-agers. Recent examples include the short, billowy dresses and combat boots made popular by the Fly Girls of "In Living Color" (Michelle Cole); the flower-strewn hats that Mayim Bialik has worn on "Blossom" (Sherry Thompson), and the cropped tops and faded jeans of "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Dianne Kennedy).

But television isn't just about teen fashion influences. One of the hottest looks to rock menswear came in 1984 when Don Johnson starred in "Miami Vice." Pastel sport coats, no socks and a three-day beard, a look created by Jodie Tillen, set a new standard for hip.

And when "Murphy Brown" (Bill Hargate) first hit the small screen in 1988, Candice Bergen's longer, brighter colored jackets worn with a sculptural pin on the lapel suggested new possibilities for career women.

In more recent episodes, Murphy wore a baseball cap with her blond ponytail spouting from the hole in back. "I saw that one everywhere," says Hargate.

At times it can be difficult to say which came first, the screen version or the street version. Mirojnick continuously checks out neighborhoods around town for ideas. Century City is her source for business uniforms, La Brea Avenue for adventure and experimentation in dressing. What ultimately appears on the screen?

"The real world mixed with the movies," she says.

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