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FASHION / SCREEN STYLE

Pre-Spandex Workouts

November 03, 1994|BETTY GOODWIN

The Movie: "The Road to Wellville."

The Setup: Satire set in turn-of-the-century health and fitness sanitarium founded by real-life Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Anthony Hopkins) in Battle Creek, Mich., brother of corn-flake magnate W.K. Kellogg.

The Costume Designer: Penny Rose, whose credits include "The Commitments," "Shadowlands," "Strapless" and "Local Hero."

Research: The real Dr. Kellogg left behind not only voluminous photographic records of his early spa scene, but also a book he penned on its dress code, which Rose followed up to a point: "There are pages and pages of description on things like how many meters to make a skirt with so that you could exercise," she said.

The Look: Ever wonder how people functioned in pre-spandex times? Men performed calisthenics in their dress clothes--stiff-collared shirts, neckties, waistcoats and trousers. Women worked out in bloomers and high-necked lace blouses.

Hits: The good doctor dressed as Santa Claus in a charming hooded red robe trimmed in shearling. Nurses in uniforms of striped mattress ticking beneath saintly, diaphanous white silk organza aprons and nunlike bonnets.

Trivia: Whimsical, ridiculous hats in the "Hello Dolly!" mode--particularly Virginia Cranehill's (Camryn Manheim) chapeau decorated with three stuffed birds--have been seen before. Embellishments were added to headgear found among stock from Visconti's "Death in Venice" and Bertolucci's "1900" at the Tirelli costume house in Rome.

Sources: Other than Dr. Kellogg and Will Lightbody's (Matthew Broderick, pictured with Bridget Fonda) custom-made suits, most of the period costumes were rented--from Tirelli and Cosprop in London--and redressed with antique trims, lace and beading.

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