The Movie: "Maverick."
The Setup: A Wild West poker championship is at stake, and con man Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson, pictured), con woman Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster, pictured) and Marshal Zane Cooper (James Garner, pictured, who starred as Maverick in the 1950s television series of the same name) are holding the cards.
The Costume Designer: April Ferry, whose credits include the television movie "My Name Is Bill W." and the feature films "Free Willy," "The Big Chill," "The Babe," "Big Trouble in Little China," "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "Mask."
The Look: Frivolity on the frontier. Glossy silks, brocades and lace--and that's just for the guys--in no way reflect the dirt, dust and grim realities of living in the untamed Old West. Part card shark, part fop, Maverick is never without a luxurious vest or a laundry-fresh white shirt. (A ruffled shirt provides a running gag, but it's actually quite nice.) Ferry pulls off the folly without sacrificing historical correctness, working particular wonders with money-happy Annabelle Bransford. Her most winning number is her "grape dress" of purple silk with a garland of hand-sewn and stuffed grapes and grape leaves.
Triumph: All said, the best fashion moments may have been stolen by Maverick's adversary, Angel (Alfred Molina), as dirty and dusty as they come in cavalry jackets and frock coats adorned with gorgeous period Native American beading. "My back story for him was that he was in the cavalry at one time, became a deserter and outlaw, and now he lives with an Indian woman who beads his clothes," Ferry explains.
Inspiration: Maverick's flashiness stems from Garner's first "Maverick" television costume--a silver brocade vest, black frock coat, gray pants and a string tie--which, in turn, was lifted from early movie Westerns. Garner's original wardrobe, Ferry says, was pulled from studio stock; the vest bore Gary Cooper's name, the shirt, Monty Wooley's. Ferry turned to historical photos of dapper lawman Bat Masterson when dressing Cooper, and a photo of Annie Oakley served as partial inspiration for Bransford. Books and period fashion magazines offered other ideas.
Trivia: Jodie Foster had no complaints about squeezing into corsets. "She was used to them from 'Sommersby,' " Ferry says. "We could pull her into a 22-inch waistline. That's ridiculous, like 'Gone With the Wind.' "
Sources: Bransford's clothes were by costume maker John Hayles. Men's clothes were made at several costume houses. Fabrics came from International Silks and Woolens and F & S Fabrics.