NEW YORK — By now there’s been much ink spilled over “Superman Returns” costume designer Louise Mingenbach’s sartorial interpretation of the Man of Steel. “I think it’s been totally blown out of proportion,” she says. “I’ve gotten e-mails from fans complaining that the cape is five inches longer than the one that Christopher Reeves wore or that its red color is too dark.”

But Mingenbach, who worked with “Superman” director Bryan Singer on the first two “X-Men” films, is no stranger to the art of dressing superheroes. Still, her favorite part of the job, she admits, is outfitting the mere mortals. “I got into this business because I love clothes,” she says. “Not because I had hopes of one day making a superhero suit.”

For the citizens of Metropolis, Mingenbach devised a wardrobe rooted in classic silhouettes and a muted color palette, explaining, “We wanted to create a world where you didn’t know what period it is.” That said, many of the clothes pay subtle homage to the late Seventies’ “Superman” films, as well as the World War II-era comic book. In particular, Kate Bosworth’s style as Lois Lane has a distinct Forties feel to it. “After a first fitting with Kate, we realized that the strong shoulder pads and clean tweed suits of that period really looked good on her,” says Mingenbach. “They made her look professional and grown-up, which, playing the mother of a six-year-old in the movie, she needed.”

As for the film’s other leading lady, Lex Luther’s sidekick Kitty Kowalski, played by Parker Posey, Mingenbach took Old Hollywood at its most literal. “Parker decided that Kitty would be the type of person who is obsessed with old movies and that everything she wore would be a reference to some old movie she had seen,” says Mingenbach, who delighted in culling iconic looks from films like “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Death on The Nile” and cult flick “The Blue Max” for Posey’s wardrobe. “We had fun pretending who Kitty could be. Her style is very extreme and costumey.”

And while Kitty’s dramatic ensembles are a far cry from Lois Lane’s demure sweater sets, Mingenbach made sure that the costumes of both actresses adhered to one simple rule. “No skin,” she says. “I think when you get too skimpy the outfit dates itself. Besides, Superman isn’t that kind of guy. He’s not Batman.”

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