Three-time Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood avoided the classic outfits that made Audrey Hepburn such a style icon when she designed the clothes for an adaptation of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" that opens this week.
"Why go see something that's the same as the movie that's already been done? What's the point? We've seen that Givenchy black dress a million times," said Atwood, who won Oscars for her work on "Chicago," ''Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Alice in Wonderland."
The play's creative team returned to the time period author Truman Capote originally set his story, meaning during World War II, not the 1960s of the film. That means no cigarette holders or Burberry trench coats.
"That's not where I'm going. I'm in the '40s. I'm not redoing the movie," Atwood said in a phone call from Los Angeles. "The movie was beautifully and perfectly done, as far as I'm concerned. But that isn't what I'm doing here."
The stage adaption of Capote's classic 1958 novella stars Emilia Clarke of HBO's "Game of Thrones" as the eccentric party girl Golightly, a role Hepburn played to acclaim in the 1961 movie.
Atwood says many of the outfits for Clarke complement the actress' silhouette in a way the more architectural esthetic of the 1960s might not. "I have a very curvy young lady so I want to feature that," she said. That has meant a romantic red silk dress, a luxurious dressing gown and a fitted black dress.
Clarke, a 25-year-old English beauty making her Broadway debut, says the costumes she wears are critical to get into the head of a young lady whose life is very much tied to her outward appearance.
"The birth of Holly Golightly in the truest sense started with how she looks," says the actress, who says she plays Golightly as a fragile woman playing in dangerous waters. "I think she wears her clothes as a mask, as armour."
Hepburn's role in the film version turned the actress into an icon and role model for young women who fantasized about moving to New York to live the same freewheeling, urbane lifestyle.
But the movie tidied and glossed over the deeply tragic undercurrent of Capote's story: an aimless bachelorette who uses sugar daddies as her income and a crutch to avoid the pain of her past. Atwood says the play features a more complex party girl than the movie — "more Marilyn Monroe fun than Audrey Hepburn fun."
"I'm telling a story about a different character; it's a much grittier and deeper and more complex character than that depicted in the film," she said. "It's written in a different way. It's a little darker. The mood is different."
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" represents Atwood's Broadway debut and she already anticipates that her creations will have to be sturdier to survive the wear and tear of an eight-show-a-week routine.
"I always like doing new and different things," she said.
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