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DREAMGIRLS

Costumes, Makeup, Hair And The Legacy
"Got a home in the hills, Mercedes-Benz, Hot swimming pool, Got lots of friends. Got clothes by the acre, Credit to spare. I could wake up tomorrow And find nobody there.”

Oscar-nominated costumer Sharen Davis's challenge was to produce clothes that would evoke a sense of period but not exist merely as reproductions of the clothing of the '60s and '70s eras. "This was a revolutionary time in fashion and creating the costumes for ‘Dreamgirls' let me run the gamut from what was happening on the street to the ultimate in glamour for the concert stage,” she says. "The cast had as much fun wearing the costumes as I did designing them.”

Davis holds the unique qualification for her participation in the film of chasing the dream of pop glory as a former member of a "girl group” herself. "I had a short history as a background vocalist, and I remember what I used to wear,” she explains. "I was a theater major at the time, so I was working during the day on theatrical costumes and, at night, I was ‘ooh-ing' and ‘aah-ing' behind somebody. And when I went to interview with Bill, I said, ‘As someone who used to do this, I'm just so excited to do the costumes for these girls!'”

As the life trajectories of the core characters in "Dreamgirls” evolve, so do the clothes – starting out as rough, raw and unpolished, "unproduced.” As Curtis works his crossover magic on the group, that roughness becomes polished, refined and homogenized.

Creating the wardrobe for the film – which spans thirteen years in the lives of the characters – was a collaborative process with the film's other artisans. Color palettes of the costume designs were closely coordinated with the looks and colors of the sets, the lights, every aspect of physical production.

Davis describes the groups of the '60s as being as much about looks as sound. In their pre-fame looks, the The Dreamettes'dresses are homemade and somewhat homely, but fun and bright and able to move with the choreography. Once they are "on their way” – and held on an increasingly tight leash by Curtis – the freeness of the cuts vanishes, replaced with constricting tour outfits. But, at the same time, The Dreams also become the embodiment of heightened glamour.

Likewise, their makeup and styling – by makeup supervisor Shutchai Tym Buacharern and hair supervisor Camille Friend – transform as well. "When the girls first start they are plain and very simple,” says Buacharern. "They're like girls from the 'hood who might pick up a magazine but can't afford to go buy the major brands. So they're drugstore products. Then, they become more and more groomed and refined.”

"In the beginning, they start on the Chitlin' Circuit and they're very young,” notes Camille Friend. "They would have to have very inexpensive wigs in those lean, early years. Deena even comes up with the idea to turn their wigs around to distinguish themselves, because they just know the cheapness of their wigs is obvious to their competition. I was in the wig store for about two hours just turning wigs around on my head to see how this would work.”

Later, however, the young women grow into their glamour. "When we performed ‘Dreamgirls' at the Miami Crystal Room, it was a two-and-one-half hour makeup and hair process before filming,” recalls Knowles. "This is the point where Deena steps up and becomes the lead. She is making the transformation of her life – from Deena the singer into Deena the superstar. So, it was fitting that that number was blown out with these sexy, heavy dresses – corseted at the top and bustiers, the biggest hair in my life, and the bluest eye shadow I've ever seen!”

From wardrobe to makeup, hair and wigs, all of the key artisans sought to painstakingly plot the arc of each principal cast member to make certain the evolution of the looks reflected their progression. "The character's clothes tell

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