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54

The Costumes
Anyone who made it past the velvet ropes at Studio 54 will recognize many of the club's design elements -- the silver banquettes, the black astroturf, the mirrored diamond-shaped bar, the parquet dance floor, the ornate staircases, the steel bridge, the d

Anyone who made it past the velvet ropes at Studio 54 will recognize many of the club's design elements -- the silver banquettes, the black astroturf, the mirrored diamond-shaped bar, the parquet dance floor, the ornate staircases, the steel bridge, the deejay booth and the strobe-lit columns descending from the ceiling. And it wouldn't be Studio without the man in the moon and his coke spoon. The original club, a former opera house, was huge. At 90 feet long by 70 feet wide, Thompson's replica of the club is 85% of the original's size.

The club's original architect, Scott Bromley, gave Thompson access to his files on the club's construction and on renovations made over the next four years. Thompson learned that things were done quickly, with materials that were never intended to age. "It was all created in the spirit of 'let's throw a party and have a good time.' It's funny," Thompson added, "because we had between three and four weeks to build this set, and the owners of Studio 54 got their lease on the space just about four weeks before they opened."

The club may have been constructed quickly, but patrons didn't rush when they dressed for a night at Studio. "This was a time when people really did preen like peacocks," said costume designer Ellen Lutter. "Call it ugly, call it over the top, but people tried to be different and to be themselves, and you don't see that now.

After working out the visual themes with Christopher and Thompson, Lutter had to deal with nuts and bolts. "We have 70 speaking roles, and our lead character Shane has over 20 costume changes," Lutter calculated. "With extras, we're way over 4,000 costumes. A lot of them are young and don't understand the clothing, so they have to be instructed: 'No your pants are not too tight. If you can zip them, they fit!"'

Finding all those clothes was daunting until Lutter discovered Hullabaloo, a dead stock warehouse in St. Louis, loaded with brand new garments from the '60's and forward. "My assistant and I spent four days there, looking through boxes and racks and racks of clothing, and filling huge hampers with stuff."

But Hullabaloo didn't fill all her needs. "We have a lot of high-end characters who move through the fashion world," Lutter observed. She dressed them in retro couture pieces by Alaia, Halston, Claude Montana, Betsey Johnson, Bill Blass, Mary McFadden and Oscar de la Renta, plus some of her own designs. Ina, a designer resale shop in Soho, was a treasure trove, yielding a dazzling gold Claude Montana jacket for Sela Ward, plus something even better. "Three-and-a-half weeks before shooting started, Ina turned me onto Kenny Valenti," Lutter recalled, still amazed by her luck. "He designed for Betsey Johnson and Fiorucci, then started collecting '70's couture from all over the country. And he used to be a bartender at 54!"

Reflecting on the thousands of outrageous outfits she created, Lutter was philosophical. "Some of our stuff goes over the top, but I think that's one way to capture what was in the air."

Capturing what was in the air is a tricky thing, but that's what 54 i s ultimately about. Producer Dolly Hall spent many nights at Studio 54 during its golden era and thought back to that time frequently during production. "It was a wonderful and exciti

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