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True Action-Packed Fashion Stunts

July 14, 1994|BETTY GOODWIN

The Movie: "True Lies."

The Setup: Helen Tasker (Jamie Lee Curtis, pictured) thinks her husband, Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is a computer salesman but soon gets wind of his real work as a spy who battles nuclear weapon-wielding foes.

The Costume Designer: Marlene Stewart, whose credits include the movies "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Falling Down," "The Doors" and "JFK" as well as 11 Madonna videos, including "Vogue," "Express Yourself" and "Like a Prayer."

The Look: Of the movie's presumed $100-million to $120-million budget, figure a couple grand goes for costumes. OK, maybe a couple hundred grand. But except for the opening and closing scenes--odes to James Bond, with Harry posing as an international gadabout wearing a swell tuxedo--we're talking C & R Clothiers for him and Talbot's for her. (The clothing budget does take a hit when Helen opts midway through the film for $450 Manolo Blahnik pumps.)

Hit: This is an action picture, with some noteworthy fashion stunts. Harry literally steps out of an underwater "dry suit" fully dressed in a tuxedo. To rapidly improve her sex appeal, Helen rips the matronly ruffles off a cocktail dress and uncovers a provocative, barely there black tube.

The Hunk Factor: Consider what action heroes of the moment are wearing. Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) of "Speed" does his duty in a T-shirt and utility pants. Jimmy Dove (Jeff Bridges) of "Blown Away" wears bomb-squad gear. And there's Harry in a suit. Thankfully, he removes the tie and the jacket. By denouement, the shirt is reduced to a bunch of muscle-baring shreds.

The Jiggle Factor: While Helen also becomes an action hero, she is no less decorative for it. Indeed, her tube dress starts mid-breast and stops a few inches below the butt. In a real moment of panic, however, she does kick off her black spike-heel pumps. "It's the antithesis of what she should be wearing," Stewart acknowledges. "But they wanted a little sexy dress."

Her Trivia: The little black dress was actually three dresses--a perfectly fitted one for close-ups, a stretch velvet version that would accommodate body pads, a stunt harness and large movements for action scenes, and a slightly oversize version that would easily drop to the ground for Helen's striptease.

His Trivia: Schwarzenegger's large body and small waist meant his wardrobe had to be entirely custom-made, including neckties. "You can't put anything off-the-rack on him except a knit polo shirt," Stewart said. That meant that his average, working-man suits, which were meant to look cheap, cost from $700 to $1,200 each.

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