Or at least that’s the desire of costume designer Glenne Campbell, who tends to the wardrobe needs of the athletically inclined cast of The WB’s "Black Sash," an action-adventure TV drama that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a group of martial arts students.
"It’s exciting to see the promotion of activity and participation through fashion — I hope the viewers adopt the healthy lifestyle choices to go with the look," said Campbell, who outfits the show’s fitness-friendly females in velour track suits, dance and yoga tops, stretch bell-bottoms and capris, sports bras, and child-size T-shirts. "I’ve costumed many period shows that depict the women as limited fashion plates. Beautiful as they are, it’s more exciting to see the women of today expressing a ‘can do’ attitude."
Campbell also hopes the show’s viewers will take a cue from the cast and adopt a healthy lifestyle. "Missy [Peregrym] and Sarah [Carter] have beautiful physiques that can only inspire young women everywhere to take care of their bodies with exercise, dance, healthy eating habits and rest," she said.
"Black Sash," which made its midseason debut March 30, stars Russell Wong as ex-cop Tom Chang, who, after being wrongly imprisoned in Hong Kong for smuggling heroin, returns to San Francisco to run a martial arts school attended by a diverse group of students. His protégés include Tory Stratton (Peregrym), an enraged teenager dealing with the death of her police officer father, and Allie Bennett (Carter), a shy young woman seeking the acceptance of her peers.
When Campbell arrived last October at the show’s set in Vancouver, British Columbia, she came armed with some knowledge of martial arts — she had spent three years attending her 11-year-old son’s taekwondo classes. She also supplemented her knowledge by attending other classes, interviewing instructors, visiting martial arts supply stores, reading martial arts publications, as well as watching Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li films.
The research was necessary since Campbell’s previous costume design stints varied in subject matter. She has worked on several made-for-TV movies, including "Dodson’s Journey," starring Ellen Burstyn; "Atomic Train," starring Rob Lowe, and "My Husband’s Secret Life," starring Anne Archer. She also has worked on several TV series and served as an assistant costume designer at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in her hometown of Calgary, Alberta.Although "Black Sash" features many scenes in a martial arts environment, Campbell opted for activewear pieces instead of traditional gear.
"The art form that was the inspiration for the choreography of the martial arts scenes is a Chinese form called Ba Gua —only occasionally did we dress the cast in traditional garb," said Campbell. "This was to portray a sense of specialness to the occasion. The nonuniform looks permitted a development of each individual character in order to complement the drama of the story."
Campbell culled pieces from resources including Nike, Reebok, Juicy Couture, DKNY, Guess, Buffalo by David Bitton, Classic Girl and TNA. She also supported the local fashion scene by pulling several pieces from Vancouver-based yogawear line Lululemon Athletica, which operates stores across Canada and is expanding this year to Los Angeles and San Francisco. "[Lululemon’s] product is beautiful, available in a wide range of colors with flattering detailing and quality fabrics," Campbell said.
Some of the cast’s pieces also were crafted at the show’s design studio on Vancouver’s picturesque waterfront. "With the pace that a series is done at, in-house manufacturing can enable more control regarding design, quantity and scheduling," said Campbell. "We manufactured activewear, Chinese outfits, accessories, multiples for garments we could only purchase one of and leatherwear."
Like the actors she works with, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an integral part of Campbell’s lifestyle. "I don’t tea party with my peers. I run the trails on the Pacific Coast mountains," she said. "And I’m not so much an athlete — more of a reborn youngster."
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