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Urban Fabulous Fashions
At her first meeting with Platt and Woodruff, costume designer Susan Matheson was asked about the look she planned to create "that every woman out there is going to want to emulate.” Matheson remembers, "So I told them that it's all about airbrushing. It's all about tattoos. We've got tattoos on the clothing and you'll see that Jessica has Boriqua on the butt of her pants. The Virgin Mary is airbrushed on the back of her denim jacket. Beautiful roses are airbrushed down her arm that look like a tattoo was placed on her clothing. Tattoos are everywhere!” 

Costume consultant and stylist O'Neal McKnight adds, "We got key accessories that make Honey urban fabulous. To define it, urban fabulous is Mary J. Blige, Eve… it's about girls that come from the inner city and are beautiful, confident in their own skin, stylish and very cutting edge.” 

To establish the look for the film, Matteson and McKnight went to dance auditions in New York and Los Angeles. "The core of the film is dancing, so we wanted the costumes to be authentic,” says Matheson. "We noted what dancers were wearing and elaborated on it, pushing things to make it more interesting for the film.” 

The costume department built thousands of costumes for Alba and the 70 dancers who perform in the film. Matheson explains, "Dancers have such specific requirements because they have to be able to move. Most of Jessica's costumes were built as well. Honey's a free spirit, she doesn't follow the crowd and her clothing has to reflect that.” 

Costumes were hand painted, fabrics were pieced together like a collage, and pictures of Rick James and Diana Ross were printed on her t-shirts. Matheson's hunt for the right look took her to Harlem, where she noticed that a lot of the women wore gold bamboo hoop earnings. "We found the neighborhood jeweler and had a pair made for Honey, as well as a ring that says ‘Honey.' The character wears it all the time.” 

Matheson knows that people sometimes put more care into the way they dress than they are willing to admit. "They care about their color palette, the color of their sneakers, the color of their shirt and how it all goes together,” comments the designer. 

McKnight continues, "In the urban community, it's all about uniform. The football jersey needs to match the sneakers, the baseball hat has got to match the jersey.” McKnight's extensive contacts with several urban fashion companies in New York were instrumental in getting support from such labels as Phat Farm, Sean John, Rock Well and Snooze People. 

On the challenges of costuming large casts, Matheson says, "On a movie like this where there are so many people and so many costumes, you have to be like a rubber band, able to bounce back very quickly.” 

She specifically recalls dealing with an audition scene and reflects, "In the scene, everybody auditions with a top hat and wearing character shoes, which are high-heeled dance shoes. Bille decided to add 40 dancers. We had about 40 minutes to run around Toronto to find 40 more top hats—that had to be aged, by the way—and 40 more pairs of character shoes. Crew were going to the stores asking for the hats and shoes and the staff kept saying, ‘We don't have that anymore—the people on Honey bought them all.'”


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