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DIRTY DANCING HAVANA NIGHTS

Costumes and Makeup
Creating the extensive wardrobe for Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights required not only fidelity to the structured, elegant clothing that most people associate with the late 1950s; it also demanded an understanding of how those styles would manifest themselves in the story's Cuban setting. Ferland tapped costume designer Isis Mussenden, who is from Latin America and had worked previously in dance. Comments Ferland, "Isis understood the costumes and looks that a film like this, with its different levels of social class, would entail.”

Mussenden's research encompassed several areas, from the glamorous cocktail dresses worn by upper-class wives to the uniforms worn by hotel employees and schoolgirls. Singers and band members required performance-worthy outfits; the designer also had to consider how young Cuban women would copy the styles they saw in magazines with the resources available to them.

The designer faced a particular hurdle in outfitting a period film shooting in Puerto Rico. "There's really no supply of vintage clothing in Puerto Rico, so we had to import it or make what we needed for the film,” Mussenden recalls. "We created and built from scratch probably 75-80 pieces of clothing. We purchased tons of fabric and drew and created designs. We made everything that Romola wears, and about 80 percent of what Diego wears. We made wardrobe for Jeannie, Bert and many of the other characters.”

The wardrobe created for Garai had to follow Katey's dawning awareness of her own body and sexuality. A key piece was the dress Katey borrows from the hotel maid Yolanda. The dress had to be formfitting, but Mussenden was determined not to cross into Latin cliché. "Being a Latin woman myself, I would never go that direction,” the designer says. "It was important to me to capture the culture's class, grace and beauty. I was not going to make that dress look like Carmen Miranda because that is not what Yolanda would have in her closet. So we created a beautiful red dress, which fit Romola beautifully and showed off her figure. In the film, it's the color and style that make the dress daring. The girls at the country club envy Katey because she has the nerve to wear it, and looks amazing in it.”

Ward relished the ensembles she wore as Jeannie Miller. "I wish we all dressed like this. It's so flattering to your figure,” the actress allows. "Every time I would do a movie my mother would say to me, ‘Sela, how are the clothes?' And I'd go, ‘Oh, I don't think you'd love them, Mom.' Well, she would have loved this movie; she really dressed straight out of the 50's - always something that was very flattering, with ‘Cherries in the Snow' Revlon lipstick. So this was fun for me.”

Like the clothing, the era's makeup was very polished. Makeup artist Patricia Regan worked with the colors and products that were popular at the time. She consulted with some friends who were born in Cuba and left during the revolution. "They all talked about the tight dresses and the red lipsticks. All the girls had Revlon lipstick,” Regan reports. "In the early ‘50's, Revlon introduced ‘Love That Red,' ‘Cherries in the Snow,' and ‘Fire and Ice,' the three beautiful reds that a lot of women could wear. You also saw the influence of movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner.”

Research confirmed, however, that girls in the 1950s – particularly middle and upper class girls like the Millers – did not wear much makeup, if any. Comments Regan, "They just had clean faces. It wasn't considered proper for young girls to be all made up, and parents generally would not allow it. Maybe for a big event, they'd be allowed to wear lipstick.” Thus, for most of the film, Garai's makeup is a "no makeup” look, though Regan added subtle makeup accents as Katey comes into her own. "We'd use a bit more blush, maybe a little lip color in pink. Pink was also a big part of the 50's and

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