The brutal murders of Jose and Kitty Menendez by their sons Lyle and Erik in 1989 stands as one of the most sensational and widely reported true crime stories of the past 30 years. On Sunday, the Lifetime network will premiere “Menendez: Blood Brothers,” a small screen adaptation of the drama, with Courtney Love and Benito Martinez starring as the slain well-to-do couple.
“Courtney definitely had a vision for the character,” explained the film’s wardrobe designer Claudia Da Ponte. “The real Kitty [Menendez] tended to wear a lot of red so right off the bat we said Courtney would look good in red. From there we took it to jewel tones so you’ll notice throughout she wears a lot of red, yellow, emerald green and turquoise.”
The Vancouver-based costumer scoured the city for vintage St. John and Escada pieces to illustrate Menendez’s Beverly Hills lifestyle. “On the inside Kitty was a bit of a mess, but on the outside she was trying to please her men — Jose and the brothers. She’s trying really hard with her outside appearance and that’s what I wanted to come across with the clothes,” Da Ponte added.
“I’m preparing every night with class, diction and breathing lessons with an ex-Navy Seal who is a specialist in PTSD,” Love revealed at an event in New York in February. “He’s teaching me to breathe so I can do more of a Kevin Spacey, Edward Norton-style pauses.”
The 52-year-old actress also noted her own creative vision for the character’s aesthetic. “Lots of high-waisted jeans, silk blouses, big hair and big shoulder pads — Eighties glamour, baby.”
Originally, Love’s character had 30 wardrobe changes, but producers cut this number in half when they decided to maintain one look throughout certain scenes where Menendez returns as an apparition. “We didn’t want to do head-to-toe white and have her looking like an actual ghost so we decided not to go the tacky approach,” Da Ponte said. “With Kitty we asked who was this person and tried to get into her head.”
When it came to outfitting the murderous siblings played by Nico Tortorella and Myko Olivier, Da Ponte took a more traditional approach and played off their boy-next-door good looks.
“I thought the brothers should always look like they’re in a Ralph Lauren ad,” Da Ponte said.