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Under All That Sparkle? Victoria's Secret Bras

March 20, 1997|BETTY GOODWIN

The Movie: "Selena."

The Setup: Biopic of the tejano superstar Selena (Jennifer Lopez), who was murdered at age 23 in 1995.

The Costume Designer: Elisabetta Beraldo, whose credits include "Camilla" and "Fluke."

The Look: Famous for Madonna-meets-Bob Mackie jeweled bras that she designed and made herself during road trips, Selena also affixed stones, crystals and beads to belt buckles, chauffeur caps and pant legs. Although the singer was of the born-to-shop breed and adored scouring malls for shoes (amassing about 100 pairs) and clothes, she created most of her flashy, midriff-baring costumes. And they became increasingly elaborate, with halters, fancifully engineered straps and long skirts.

The Challenge: Copying Selena's performance clothes line-for-line from photos and existing garments. The singer's sister and former backup drummer, Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga, recalls seeing Lopez emerge from her trailer on the set in a facsimile of a beaded gown Selena had bought for the Grammy Awards. "I got goose bumps," she says. "It spooked me."

Influences: Growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, Selena had no exposure to high fashion. "We weren't well-off [enough] to know about designers. When we were young, Jordache jeans were the thing," Arriaga says. Selena did read fashion magazines and kept an eye on the clothes Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey wore on the TV awards shows. But Latin culture also shaped her wardrobe: bolero jackets, a mariachi-style costume, flamingo ruffles and huge silver hoop earrings.

Trivia: Selena made her bras from, well, bras--Carnival and Victoria's Secret strapless models with structured cups that could hold the weight of stones. Jewels were attached primarily with Goop (a glue); for authenticity, Beraldo used the same materials. "They were really beautiful," Beraldo says.

Selena also adored the rhinestone belts of Michael Morrison MX, a Los Angeles designer. For the movie, he re-created Selena's bras, belts, caps and studded a North Beach Leather jacket, another of the star's favorite labels.

Noted: In 1994, Selena opened Selena Etc. Boutique and Salons in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, selling a collection of clothes under her own label. Today, her sister runs the stores. The merchandise includes not only Morrison's belts and logo merchandise but also the Selena collection. (Each season, Arriaga adds a few designs from her sister's old sketchbooks.) Other styles come from designers she works with in Mexico. "We're trying to keep her boutiques exactly as she left them," Arriaga says.

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