Byline: Merle Ginsberg

NEW YORK--Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?
Perhaps in the House of Montague, putting on his Pradas.
Because fashion is the star of Australian director Baz Luhrmann's updated movie version, dubbed "William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet," opening next week. In his visual blowout, the young lovers--Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes--are set against a bloody backdrop of modern urban gang warfare, techno music, computer imagery, boom boxes and Saturday-night specials. And these battling Montagues and Capulets are so hip and streetwise, they go to love and war in Prada, Miu Miu and D&G.
Luhrmann, director of the outrageous "Strictly Ballroom," wanted to go in the opposite direction of what he calls "elitist, stagy productions" of Shakespeare--even though the text is completely the original.
His "Romeo and Juliet" has a Fellini-like heightened reality, and costume designer Kym Barrett, who also worked on "Strictly Ballroom," started out by conferring with Prada on the young lovers' outfits. It was decided they'd be in pales: white, pale blue and silver, with Juliet in flowy white-on-white Miu Miu, and Romeo donning a white Prada suit to his wedding.
"It was so lovely wearing Prada and Miu Miu," says Danes, "that I'm wearing almost all Miu Miu to everything these days. The clothes are so feminine, but they're also really modern."
For the rough and tumble Montague boys, "I wanted a sort of Vietnam feeling," says Barrett. "They carry weapons, but they wear whatever they like, like at the end of Vietnam, when the soldiers wore Hawaiian shirts and shorts and funky hats."
To outfit the Capulet gang, Barrett teamed up with Dolce & Gabbana.
"The Capulets wear ornamental clothes from expensive shops, with bullet-proof vests," she says. "But the lines of the D&G suits must be able to accommodate gun holsters."
A real standout Capulet is John Leguizamo's slinky Tybalt, whom Shakespeare referred to as the "King of Cats." Barrett dressed him in shiny ebony boots with silver heels, and his mostly black Dolce wardrobe, she says, "has a feline line to it--the texture of his clothes has the shininess of cat fur."
Both the Montague and Capulet parents have a real luxe look, "very 1960s-1970s-Yves Saint Laurent-Jackie O," says Luhrmann, "so of course the younger direction has rejected that."
The Elizabethans, with all their ruffles and boned bustiers, never looked so cool.EYE SCOOP

Former Miu Miu model Chloe Sevigny, the star of "Kids," is hitting the runway once again. She'll model in the first collection shown by designer Bernadette Van-Nuy, who's showing as part of Seventh on Sixth in New York Saturday. Van-Nuy just designed all the clothes for Sevigny's next movie, "Gummo," directed by "Kids" writer (and Sevigny's boyfriend), Harmony Korine.

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