She followed up her "Bonnie and Clyde" success with "The Thomas Crown Affair," directed by Norman Jewison.
"He called me for an interview and sat back in his chair and asked, 'Can you draw as well as Bob Mackie?' And I said, 'Better.' And he said, 'Well, I want to see that.' When I showed him my drawings, he said, 'Yeah, you are better.' And we always got along. He was wonderful to me."
"Whatever I needed, I got," she says. "But I do remember that Norman didn't like it if I bought $350 purses for Faye, but, of course, I always did."
She says that during the making of "The Thomas Crown Affair" fashion was experiencing a transitional period "when the counterculture and the youth quake movement was having its impact on the length of skirts, primarily, minis and the no-bra look."
For "The Thomas Crown Affair" Van Runkle envisioned for Dunaway hats with oversized brims, endless hairpieces that were braided and upswept and knee-length outfits.
"But Faye wanted the skirts to be right up to her crotch. We got into a knock-down, drag-out over it and she won," Van Runkle says, adding that star power often can decide clothing choices.
As for McQueen, "he always was really glad to see me. He said, 'Thank God, it's you that they've chosen for this movie because I know my pants are gonna fit.' Sometimes we had to put 30 pairs of trousers on him to get the right ones to make his behind look great," she says.
"In those days the director totally left it up to me to create the look, the style for a film," she says. "Nobody ever told me what to do. They didn't feel that they had to have their hands on everything, the way they do now."
And most important, "Everything was handmade. These days you go shopping. I mean, that's fun. Everybody likes to go shopping. But when you're a designer, well, I don't think so."
"Nowadays, movie makers want to spend no money on costumes and they want it to look like the great, golden age of costuming."
In her more recent movies, including the current"I'm Losing You," a contemporary film written and directed by Bruce Wagner, Van Runkle says, "I didn't have a concept for costumes because I didn't have any money."
She worked "with what I could cull from people's closets, my own closet and bits of fabric to put things together. It really wasn't up to my standards. It was a styling job."
And therein lies the rub, Van Runkle says. Too often, costume designing has become nothing more than a shopping spree, with stylists running around town picking up clothes from upscale fashion designers who have deals with studios for screen credit in exchange for free clothes.
"You can't just know about clothes," Van Runkle says. "That's not enough. You have to be an illustrator of the character. That's where the joy comes, in illustrating, in bringing out the person's character through the clothes."
The costume designer, she says "is an image-maker."
"It may not sound like that's so meaningful but I guarantee you if you see a movie that has everything but good costume design, that movie will flop."
She believes in her heart that designing will return to the good, old days of costume sketches, cutters and fitters and sewing machines humming.
Until then, she's content with life in the Hollywood Hills with her cats and collecting her memories for a book she's currently writing, "Trimming Hats at Midnight, Stringing Beads at Dawn."
And there's her art and her oil painting class at UCLA. Her current assignment is to paint a plant in an unusual container. For Van Runkle that's "a bouquet of flowers inside my skull."
"If I could draw for four or five years right now, I mean really draw, that's all I need. I mean, Van Gogh only painted for five years and produced a glorious body of work. I'm not saying I'm a genius like Van Gogh, but you don't know what else you can pull out of yourself until you try."