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Costumes Of The Film
Barber didn't just blend music and dance from across the past 80 years for the film. He also desired the retro-modern look of Idlewild to be reflected in the costumes. To accomplish this, he would turn to costume designer Shawn Barton. Known for her work on Love Jones, Friday and A Man Apart, Barton would provide a '30s flair and sensibility that the director was looking for…coupled with modern fashion. "Much of the wardrobe for the lead characters is a combination of contemporary pieces influenced by the '30s,” he comments. "Shawn and Anthony Franco had a vision for fashion that's superb.”

Barber's experience as a music-video director would inform his costume stylings. Outfits had to be somewhat true to the period, but also have a completely contemporary feel to them and be wearable for the acrobatic dance moves expected of the cast. The designer received a look book from Barber that "put together his ideas of production design,” Barton says. "From there, he told me ‘Do what you do,' which is fantastic to hear.”

Barton's team researched outfits of 1935 and added a "sprinkling of the '70s in there,” according to the designer, that would include dressing Percival's muse, Angel, in Bob Mackie originals. Her group even managed to find vintage Cher costumes that Barton tweaked for Angel's time on- and offstage.

For Benjamin's upscale undertaker look, it wasn't much of a stretch to get the actor into period costume. Barton understands for OutKast, the guys are very much known for what they wear onstage, looking like "rock stars on- or off-camera.” Barton believes that Dré, in particular, is "dressed in this time period normally.”

To get into the look that was Percival, Benjamin offers, "I watched Sammy Davis Jr. in films that were set in the '30s. I watched Cary Grant. I dig that, in that time period, people dressed up every day and on Sunday they relaxed.”

Rooster's wide, bright ties, brimmed hats, pocket handkerchiefs and checked vests were partnered with his female counterparts' costumes. Patton gives special thanks to "Mr. Giorgio Armani for takin' care of old boy Rooster for a good portion of the movie's outfits.” Contributions from Ralph Lauren and other designers added to the costume team's fashion arsenal.

Charles Roven recalls "Sunshine” Ace, Faizon Love, asking to change costumes from his original wardrobe. The producer feels, "It's great when talent comes to the party thinking about their character. I remember Faizon saying, ‘I need to stand out. This is my club! I'm a hick who's made it good.'” Barton dressed him in overalls, a narrow hat and a pocket watch. "And it was definitely the right choice,” notes Roven. Attention to detail penetrated the costume design on the set. While not always the easiest costumes in which to lindy-hop or jitterbug, even the dancers were outfitted with boots and heels by a team that became obsessed with fashion. With swing dresses and flapper-esque outfits for the ladies and sharp vests and spats for the gentlemen, the costumes would take the audiences back to a more genteel era.

Production wrapped, actors and crew reflected on the monumental task that was the creation of Idlewild. Whether it was swing dancers learning hip-hop or singers understanding the craft of acting, all were altered by their time in Wilmington, North Carolina—especially OutKast, in their first starring roles off of the video screen. At the end of the day, these big changes could only happen in a tiny little town called Idlewild. This '30s musical with its modern-day sensibility began with three young men who met years ago in Atlanta and toured the world before returning to their Southern roots. Idlewild is their story—told through the lens of a photographer—about two men who save each other's lives. Ultimately, Rooster and Percival do that for one another, as


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