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BY DESIGN : Costume Designer's Award Is a Beauty

FASHION / INSIDE OUT

June 16, 1994|DEBRA GENDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The only Tony awarded to Disney's Broadway production of "Beauty and the Beast" on Sunday night was for Best Costume Design. Creating costumes for the actors, who--as everyone knows--are turned into inanimate objects by a witch's spell, was "a fascinating challenge," Ann Hould-Ward said Tuesday from her New York home.

"My assistants and I would bang our heads against the wall and ask why we ever said we could turn anyone into a candlestick," she added. It was a question she never had to ask while designing costumes for such productions as Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" or "Sunday in the Park with George."

Hould-Ward described the sketches for "Beauty and the Beast" as "halfway between a drawing and drafting. More like a topological study." Indeed, much of the detail work was "vacu-formed," then cut away and hand-beaded.

She drew inspiration from the fashion world's recent fascination with all things three-dimensional: bustiers, bustles, lace overlays and re-embroidered cording. Which brings us to her latest challenge: designing costumes for a "really big rock star who is about to embark on a world tour." She wouldn't reveal the name but said it would be OK if we guessed. We guess, uhhhhh, Elton John. (But be he Beauty or be he Beast?)

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House of Style: Fashion statements at Juliette Lewis' surprise 21st birthday party, held in the VIP room at the House of Blues last Saturday night . . . Lewis wore an ankle-length, body-hugging white knit dress with black lace-up boots and a '70s-style brown purse made what looked suspiciously like carpeting. ("I am surprised! I'm so surprised!" she said, over and over again.) . . . Actress Karen Black--a genuine relic of the '70s--wore really big hair . . . A 47-year-old William Morris agent doffed her shoes to show off her new yoga positions.

But the ultimate in club fashion accessories were the blue wristbands found on the way-cool crowd, permitting them to enter the hippie-styled VIP room. Meanwhile, low-status, white wristband-wearing patrons were confined to the club's performance area, where we spotted a very obese man remove his shirt and shake his belly to the music.

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As the Fashion World Turns: How's this for a fashion panoply? The actresses featured in Aaron Spelling's highly anticipated "Melrose Place" spinoff, "Models Inc.," get to wear Richard Tyler designs, to model clothes in a fictional Nolan Miller fashion show (during the June 29 debut episode on Fox) and to mingle with the pros during an Escada show June 24 at Santa Monica's hot Renaissance club.

"I only play a model," we can just hear the actresses saying. No kidding. We promise you that the young ladies plucked to play opposite such cinematic leads as itty-bitty Jason Priestley and his ilk (don't get us wrong--we love the little guy) cannot possibly top out at the 6-foot height demanded on the runway.

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OOPS: Last week we neglected to mention that the L.A. County Museum of Art's Costume Couoncil show featuring Geoffrey Beene was presented by Saks Fifth Avenue. Now you know.

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