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MISS CONGENIALITY 2 ARMED AND FABULOUS

Costumes
The first time audiences met Gracie Hart, in Miss Congeniality, "she had a temporary makeover,” states costume designer Deena Appel, nominated for the Costume Designers Guild Award for her work on 1999's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. "It wasn't something that changed her internally, it was just another undercover disguise. She's still an FBI agent at heart,” and as soon as the pageant is over, in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous she's back in her Bureau blue suit, wrinkled white shirt and sensible shoes, with her hair pulled into a ponytail from which errant strands of hair fly out in every direction. "It was important to Sandy,” Appel explains, "that we start with the nature of her character, the place where she is most comfortable. After surviving the beauty pageant she's eager to get back to the old Gracie.”

Unfortunately for Gracie, her comfort is short-lived. Before she can enjoy having both feet firmly back on the ground, she gets pulled into a very public role that requires what her boss sees as "smoothing out some rough edges” and what she contemptuously calls "playing dress-up.” Enter stylist Joel, hired by the department to advise Gracie about hair, makeup, clothes, poise and, dare we say, accessorizing for her new image as the FBI's most famous face. 

Behind the fictional Joel's every wardrobe selection was Appel, applying the logic and designing the costumes. "We took the uniform of the FBI, which mandates professional attire, and looked at ways in which to turn their dress code upside down by degrees, so that when she walks into a room you see the metamorphosis and how it progresses from just irritating to way off the deep end,” she says. "So, if it had to be ‘suits,' initially it was about pushing the envelope toward fabrics that were inappropriate with shine and sparkle, heels that were a little too high, a sherbert color palette dominated by pink, coral and yellow; and then loading her up with pearls, pocket handkerchiefs and details like earrings that are too big or a scarf that's always in the way, all of which further alienates her from the rest of her colleagues.

"In one scene,” the designer continues, "she marches into the Las Vegas FBI office to meet the head of the local Bureau and she's wearing a bright yellow satin trench coat that makes her stand out like a sore thumb, which was very much the intention. She doesn't even realize that she's become this kind of creature.”

Buoyed by the adoration of her fans and eager to give them what they want, which is the glamorous Gracie Hart they fell in love with, Gracie begins to embrace the new look and get more comfortable with it. Says Pasquin, "cut to nine months later, she's completely made over and has become the sort of FBI Barbie character she swore she'd never be. Now she travels with a matching set of Fendi luggage complete with makeup case. Ultimately she realizes that maybe this has been a mistake and she needs to get back to who she really is.” 

"Dressing Gracie to the nines” was just the prelude to Appel's real challenge and the most fun she had on the project – designing for the drag club scene, in which Gracie and Sam go undercover as performers (as a fully plumed Vegas showgirl and Tina Turner lookalike, respectively) to locate an important witness on the bill. Of course Joel gets dressed up too and goes along for the ride. Just because he needs a night out. 

Sandra Bullock's showgirl costume not only had to look great, says Appel, it had to serve several story points as well, including a stage show and an underwater scene. As a sight gag, it has a tall and cumbersome headpiece and a set of tail feathers that makes getting in and out of cars nearly impossible. Appel's preparation included visits to the long-running Las Vegas shows Jubilee and La Cage Aux Folles. Ultimately she crafted a canary yellow costume she calls "an extravaga

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