Pretty Woman Costume Designer Gregg Barnes sat down with Kathrine Nero in New York City to talk about designing the clothes for this unforgettable story.
Kathrine Nero: There are some iconic moments in Pretty Woman. Will we recognize some of these looks?
Gregg Barnes: When something comes along like Pretty Woman and the audience has an expectation, the question is always: Do I just completely veer down a different road or do I honor what was done? I feel like there is something about delivering the expectation, then twisting it to tell a different story with a more current political and social mindset. So I hope that you get what you came for, but then you get a little extra.
The opening costume, with the boots and the red jacket, you’re going to think, “Wow, that’s her. That’s my icon.” The red [opera] dress is actually completely different [from the film], if you look at the details of it, the quality of it, the way it moves…but it is red and it has that off-the-shoulder look. So it’s a very different dress, but people think it’s the same dress.
KN: What was your philosophy as you approached this project and time period?
GB: Like every great project that comes across your path, there is a highlow aspect. So it’s not everybody in an evening gown and it’s not everybody in a fur cropped jacket and thigh-high boots. It’s a mix. We get to travel through the fable, a Cinderella story that takes place in Los Angeles. We said, let’s pay homage to the time that we all remember with nostalgia, but let’s make it feel like it is current so that, hopefully, if you’re sitting in the audience, you’re not thinking, “Oh, weren’t we all quaint,” or “Weren’t we all ridiculous.” You think, “Oh my God, why don’t we still dress like this? That looks amazing.”
KN: How do you think your costume design helps tell this story this story on the stage?
GB: It’s built into the storytelling that you have a person who is uneasy in her particular career, but you feel like she is in control of herself even though she’s doing something that she inherently disagrees with. And you see that quality at the end of the play when she’s thinking, “I have learned my worth. I want the dream. I demand the dream.” So I help underscore that. When she has the makeover at the end of Act I, in the film it’s very buttoned up. You know there’s a hat and gloves and it’s very prim. We serve up a different Hollywood glamour. He tells her to buy something conservative. She doesn’t buy anything conservative. She buys something that looks incredibly elegant and that half the women in the audience are going to also wonder where she got it.
About the Show
Fall in love all over again. One of Hollywood’s most beloved stories of all time is now coming to Cincinnati. PRETTY WOMAN: The Musical features direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award®-winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde), an original score by Grammy®-winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (“Summer of ’69”, “Heaven”), and a book by the movie’s legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J.F. Lawton. The Hollywood Reporter calls it “Irresistible! A romantic fantasy. A contemporary fairy tale.”