Starring Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Mike Epps, CeeLo Green, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Derek Luke and Omari Hardwick, “Sparkle” arrives in theaters August 17.
Salim Akil directed the film from a screenplay by Mara Brock Akil and a story by Joel Schumacher and Howard Rosenman. The film was produced by Debra Martin Chase, T.D. Jakes, Salim Akil, Mara Brock Akil, and Curtis Wallace. It was executive produced by Whitney Houston, Howard Rosenman, Gaylyn Fraiche and Avram Butch Kaplan. The director of photography was Anastas Michos, ASC. The production design was by Gary Frutkoff with Terilyn A. Shropshire, A.C.E. as the film editor. The music was by Salaam Remi, and R. Kelly was an executive music consultant. The film’s choreography was by Fatima Robinson, and Ruth E. Carter was the costume designer.
There was little doubt in the filmmakers’ minds that if “Sparkle” was going to reflect the upper middle class style of late ‘60s Detroit, the sleek elegance of the era’s costumes had to jump off the screen. That led to two-time Academy Award-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who sought a clothing aesthetic that for audience members who remembered the era would bring back instant memories, and for everyone else would create an instant desire to look like the actors on screen. Explains Carter, “When Whitney [Houston] put on her dress, I said, ‘This is somebody I know.’ People wanted to dress. They dressed from head to toe. They did the hat, they did the gloves, they did the jackets, they did everything.”
“Sparkle” is the story of three sisters who love each other fiercely, who each have their own dreams and ambitions, and who form a girl group as a way of capitalizing on the Motown sound sweeping the nation. And it looks like they’re going to take the music world by storm. But looming over them is the shadow of a strong mother who isn’t necessarily supportive of that dream, and hard realities about the spotlight that threaten to tear at the fabric of their tightly knit family.
Producer Debra Martin Chase calls Ruth Carter “a goddess. The wardrobe on this movie is phenomenal.” When she’d visit the wardrobe room Carter had set up in Detroit in the basement of the Masonic Temple, says Chase, “it was like going into the most exquisite vintage store: hats and gloves and bags and dresses … I swear, I walk through there and I’m like ‘Okay, so can I buy this?’”
Of course, in many cases Carter did buy pieces from collectors who typically rent period clothing for movies, because she didn’t want signature looks to suddenly show up again in another movie down the road. Elsewhere, costumes were created specifically for performance scenes, dresses that had to be pieced together and some which were extremely heavy and detailed with beads, jewels and amazing colors.
This new version of “Sparkle” is an ode to the genius of the original 1976 movie, modified to the music, fashion, lingo and historical affects of the 1960s, while maintaining the emotional clarity and aspirational spirit of the earlier classic. The city has been changed to Detroit, the home of “Hit Factory” Motown, and the original struggling single parent is now an upper middle class family doing very well.
Though many singing acts in the 1960s dressed alike to project a sense of unity, “Sparkle” portrays a sister act in which each dress worn by Sister, Dee and Sparkle may look similar in color and fabric but subtly reflects in cleverly detailed ways the personality of each character. Likewise, research into choirs of the era revealed that robes weren’t necessarily the norm, which allowed Carter to put men in suits, bright white shirts, skinny black ties and white pocket squares, and the women in quietly elegant period dresses.
Overall, the idea was to create a glamour movie, one that called up a sense of retro chic for moviegoers – of hats with rims, tailored dresses and suits, furs and shimmering pieces, of colorful church wear and sensually elegant nightclub outfits. Explains Chase, “Our goal was to have people go to the theater and be like, ‘Okay, that is cool. I’m going home and I’m getting that hairdo and I’m putting that makeup on and I want a coat like that, and I think we’ve achieved that. We’re selling four gorgeous women and a period and stardom and success, and this was a time of divas, and Ruth has captured it flawlessly.”
Leave a Reply
- Box-Office, June 14-16, 2013
- Danny Kaye Centennial: Paramount iTunes Celebration
- Purge: Design and Location
- Purge: Casting the Thriller
- Purge: Making of Provocative Thriller
- Man of Steel: Fishburne, Harry Lennix
- Man of Steel: Cavill’s Physical Training
- Man of Steel: The Music
- Man of Steel: Costume Design
- Man of Steel: Creating Imaginary World
- Man of Steel: Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams
- Man of Steel: Henry Cavill as Superman