A STITCH IN TIME
Byline: Marcy Medina
LOS ANGELES — One look at the pleated knee-length skirts and angora sweaters that sailed down the spring runways at Miu Miu will tell you that the Fifties, however quietly, have staged a comeback. But for Ruth Myers, a Los Angeles costume designer, the decade never went out of style.
“It’s my favorite period indeed, and I’m rather good at it,” says the British-born Myers, who made a big splash with Kim Basinger’s dramatic velvet cloak and bias-cut gowns in 1997’s “L.A. Confidential.” Now Myers turns her practiced hand on Sigourney Weaver in “Company Man,” a spoof on CIA operatives in Castro’s Cuba that opens Friday.
Weaver plays Daisy Quimp, the ambitious wife of a hapless agent.
“Sigourney was heaven, absolute heaven,” Myers sighs. “She comes to work with no personal vanity at all. She won’t come to you with a preconceived idea of what does or doesn’t feel good.”
The designer culled many of Weaver’s costumes, including her tartan kilt and tam o’ shanter, from her own collection of Fifties fabrics and jewelry.
“I do my best to take an attitude about the period rather than reproduce it,” she says. “‘L.A. Confidential’ is the Fifties as we like to imagine it, and ‘Company Man’ is the Fifties as we like to enjoy it.”
“I want to wear mink morning and night,” Weaver’s self-indulgent character declares, and by the film’s end she gets her wish, having achieved fame and fortune writing her memoir. Many of Hollywood’s leading ladies, including Geena Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow and Meg Ryan, have been outfitted by Myers. Davis even thanked her in her acceptance speech after winning an Oscar in 1989 for her role as a kooky dog trainer in “The Accidental Tourist.”
In “Emma,” Paltrow drew acclaim for her English accent — but also for that swanlike neck, set off by the low-cut, Empire-waisted gowns that earned Myers an Oscar nomination. And though Meg Ryan elicited more scrutiny for her off-screen romance with Russell Crowe during “Proof of Life,” she also flipped for the film’s Myers-designed bohemian wrap skirts.
For the past seven months, Myers has been shuttling between her homes in Los Angeles and London to dress Kate Hudson in bustles and crinolines for her role in “Four Feathers,” a Victorian epic costarring Heath Ledger and Wes Bentley.
“You can’t get better than that,” said Myers, a graduate of London’s renowned Central Saint Martins College. “We’ve got balls, lectures, walks in the park, dances on the roof…I’ve always shied away from doing an epic because I thought it would kill me, but I’ve loved every second of it,” she says.
Hudson is already keen on taking home a few of the costumes. To prevent her from absconding with them, Myers made the actress her very own black corset, trimmed in purple ribbon. “She was meant to practice in it, but I think she’s already worn it out.”