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“Behind Madonna’s New Look” : Women’s Wear Daily (March 14 1989)

Madonna - Women Wear Daily / March 14 1989

Gypsies, bikers, religious icons and Jane Russell’s curves are about to become some of the hottest looks in fashion – if Madonna’s record for stimulating trends holds true.

In Madonna’s current video for the song “Like A Prayer,” she shelved commercial for Pepsi-Cola and the television promotional piece that aired prior to the commercial, the singer wore her trademark looks mixed with these new influences, giving wannabes plety of new material for their wardrobes.

The video came under attack for its use of relisious icons mixed with Madonna’s fiery sexuality. Ironically inspiration for the dress Madonna wears in it was from Russell, a star whose first film was held for three years because of trouble with Hollywood censors.

“I found a dress that Jane Russell had worn, and we worked off it,” says Marlene Stewart, Los Angeles-based designer, who has done all of Madonna’s videos (with the exception of “True Blue”) and tour wardrobes since 1984.

“It’s the kind of dress you’d see in an old movie with all the heavy undergarments built underneath, like a couture garment from the Forties or Fifties,” said Stewart.

The dress is a chocolate brown satin-back rayon slip that Stewart said was “in between a slip and a dress,” with a lighter color lace inset on the top. “Under that, she wears a black bra that we have showing. We have two sets of straps and you can see the bra coming out in front and back. We got the fabric from Paramount Studios and what’s important is the color. Her hair is a chestnut brown, and the fabric was dyed to be almost the color of her hair. We were trying to get away from black. It does have a nice look to it that is soft and romantic.”

Over the dress, Madonna wore a fitted black gabardine three-quarters coat with a velvet collar that was actually a coatdress Stewart bought for herself at a secondhand store in England. The shoes were also from Stewart’s personal wardrobe – a pair of Sixties sling-back black faille shoes with pointed toes.

Although Madonna’s hair in the video was brown, in the Pepsi commercial it has a blond streak.

“I think that was part of her transition to blond for her next movie,” said Stewart, reffering to “Dick Tracy.”
Madonna, now completelly blond, co-stars with Warren Beatty in that one.

The two-minute version of the Pepsi commercial played once, according to plan, on March 2. Shorter versions, in 30 and 60 seconds, have not been released. Contratu to reports that they’d been canceled because of the controversy surrounding the video, a company spokesman said Monday that the commercials would run “at a later date to be determined by Pepsi.”

In the commercial, Madonna wore a black bustier with slim black velvet pants that Stewart made and a silk chiffon sash.

The commercial signaled a return to jewelry, which Madonna has not worn for some time.

“I’ve got the jewelry at Maxfield,” said Stewart, referring to the boutique on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. “They’re silver emulets with various symbols – a crown, crosses, a head like the kind you find on a wax stamp. They look official or religious.”

A spokeswoman for Maxfield said the pieces were by Miss Rita, a Los Angeles jewelry firm that makes very exclusive pieces for the store.

At Miss Rita, designer-owner Rita Miller said her collections tipically include demonic and Christian symbols,, daggers, skulls and amulets on black cord necklaces, but that she had not seen the specific pieces used on the commercial because, she said, “I don’t have a TV.”

In the televised promotion piece for the upcoming commercial, the viewe followed an aborigine to a small house that has a Pepsi machine outside, and glimpsed Madonna on a television inside.

“The concept was gypsy biker,” said Stewart about Madonna’s costume. “I had a tattoo put on her arm. It was a cross, and it had a little banner going through it that said “Like a Prayer,” with roses around it. She had on a boy’s white T-shirt – size 14, very tight – with the sleeves rolled up James Dean-style and a bustier over the T-shirt.”

Stewart describes the bustier – which is the same in the promotional piece and the commercial – as the “standard Fifties black bustier that she’s been wearing for quite a few years.” She found it where she has bought many lingerie pieces for Madonna – at Lili St. Cyr, the lingerie store once owned by its namesake, once a well-known stripper, on Sunset Boulevard. It was a faithful reproduction of an old item.

With the T-shirt and bustier, Madonna wore a pair of cutoff jeans. Stewart made her the pair of shoes that were black silk sling-back slippers with pointed toes and small curved heels.
“They look like French period shoes or bedroom slippers,” she said.

© WWD

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