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A Pair of Natural Born Style Setters


The Movie: "Natural Born Killers."

The Setup: During and after a cold-blooded murder spree, killers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) become national cult heroes.

The Costume Designer: Richard Hornung, whose credits include "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Barton Fink," "Raising Arizona," "The Grifters," "Young Guns" and "Dave."

The Look: Let's start with the killing couple's wedding rings--twin coiled snakes. Nasty. (Snakes also appear as an applique design on Mickey's cowboy boots and again as a body tattoo, while Mallory prefers a scorpion tattoo at her waist.)

Between the menacing symbolism--Mickey's buglike red sunglasses and on-screen head-shaving scene--and Mallory's blond, budget-Bardot wigs, this is a pair of lowlifes, pure and simple. Take away Harrelson's and Lewis' cute faces and bods, and Mickey and Mallory are two people you wouldn't want to meet alone in a dark alley. Times have changed in the costume business since Theadora Van Runkle won an Oscar turning in-love criminals Bonnie and Clyde into a virtual Vogue layout.

Trend Watch: It can't be denied--these two flaunt some mighty hip threads. He wears a fine leather motorcycle jacket and she dons two splendid fringed leather jackets, as well as of-the-moment hip huggers, crop tops and bra tops.

Sex Appeal: One of Hornung's biggest challenges was mitigating Harrelson's "healthy, blond, all-American" looks. Hence, the red glasses ("Ray-Bans are so Tom Cruise," he says) and sexy clothing. Several of Harrelson's shirts were made of mesh so that his nipples are slightly visible. Lots of effort went into making Harrelson's jeans look sexy. A tight fit and proper aging are what makes jeans alluring, Hornung explains. But you can't start out with new jeans since they won't instantly age well. "Half the thing that's sexy about jeans is how they conform to the contours of your body as they age--the crotch becomes paler and the front of the thighs become paler," Hornung says.

Because Harrelson would need 10 look-alike pairs for the production, Hornung found vintage Levi's faded to more or less the same degree, then painted and overdyed them with subtle shades of gray in the crucial areas.

Quoted: "I was mostly inspired by what was in fashion, but I wanted to do an homage to poor white trash elevated to a sexy fashion statement, kind of like rebel heroes," Hornung says.

Sources: Mickey's vintage Langlitz leather jacket is from Leathers & Treasures on Melrose, while his jeans are from various local vintage jean stores. Hornung designed his boots. Mallory's purple fringed leather jacket was custom-made by Leathers & Treasures. Most of the rest of her clothes were custom-made at Western Costume. TV reporter-cum-media scavenger Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) wears high-styled shapes and prints by Italian designer Gianni Versace.

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