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FASHION / SCREEN STYLE

And the Winner for Best-Dressed Film Is . . .

March 23, 1995|BETTY GOODWIN

Will corsets beat out falsies? It's time to assess which Oscar nominee for best costume design has the best chance of winning. (The good news is, this is one place where you won't read a word about "Forrest Gump" or "Pulp Fiction.")

"The Adventures of Priscilla,Queen of the Desert"

Credits: Lizzy Gardiner, who has worked on Australian films and movies, and Tim Chappel, a drag performer and first-time movie costume designer.

Challenge: Capturing the brazen tackiness of Australia's young drag culture on a paltry costume allowance of about $15,000.

Solution: Forget ostrich-feather stoles. The movie's three showgirls balance the entire birds (emus, actually) on their heads. Other ensembles mimic the Syndey Opera House and a crystal chandelier. And don't forget headdresses composed of room deodorizer bottles.

Triumph: Bernadette (Terence Stamp), the mature transsexual with blond Beverly Hills hair,easy-does-it blouses and trousers, and lifelike breasts.

Bottom line: Too far out for mainstream appetites.

"Maverick"

Credits: April Ferry ("The Big Chill," "The Babe," "Big Trouble in Little China," "Mask").

Challenge: Transforming a slick, pre-fixed television image for the screen.

Solution: Flossy, frivolous frontier wear.

Triumph: Tongue-in-chic touches--after all, this is a comedy--like Marshal Zane Cooper's (James Garner) laundry-fresh ruffled white shirts, despite all those dusty streets.

Bottom line: The revenge of the Western; too many Westerns in recent years may sour voters on the genre.

"Queen Margot"

Credits: Moidele Bickel ("La Marquise d'O").

Challenge: 16th-Century historical extravaganza involving 800 extras and selected French royalty.

Solution: An uncomplicated, streamlined take--partly dictated by budget constraints--on period glitz that overlooks historically correct technicalities in favor of simpler theatricality.

Triumph: Holding the starch in the accordion-pleated collars so actors could move their mouths.

Bottom Line: While it satisfies the always desirable cast-of-thousands criterion, many voters never got around to seeing this heavy drama.

"Little Women"

Credits: Colleen Atwood ("Wyatt Earp," "Philadelphia," "Ed Wood," "Edward Scissorhands," "Married to the Mob").

Challenge: Lead characters in this remake, based on the late 19th-Century classic novel, are too poor to make any fashion statements.

Solution: Un-Hollywood, realistic interpretation. The March women dress in drab wools remade from antiques, patches and all.

Triumph: Honest-looking clothes.

Bottom Line: Fairly shouts "costume drama" and as such is definitely a strong contender. But it may lack the va-va-va voom to excite voters.

"Bullets Over Broadway"

Credits: Jeffrey Kurland ("Manhattan Murder Mystery," "Husbands and Wives," "Broadway Danny Rose," "Radio Days," "Alice").

Challenge: Putting a style spin on a cast of diversely dingy characters in late '20s New York.

Solution: Mad, splashy and extremely luxurious get-ups ranging from the fabulously garish (over-bright numbers with feather trimming) to the fabulously chic (embroidered Chinese silk lounging pajamas, oodles of fox stoles).

Triumph: Even the extras are over the top, including the chorus girls in their pagoda hats and pagoda-shaped skirts dripping with sequined balls.

Bottom Line: The kind of costume-y costumes that warm voters' hearts.

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