American Dreams Style Secrets
Thursday, April 3, 2003
Ashanti needs no psychic friends to channel Dionne Warwick. Nor is LeAnn Rimes the reincarnation of Connie Francis. NBC's American Dreams (Sundays, 8 pm/ET) uses Hollywood magic to transform today's chart toppers into yesteryear's musical acts who performed on American Bandstand. "It's a fabulous process!" enthuses costume designer Chrisi Karvonides, who gives '60s makeovers to contemporary pop idols everyday. Sometimes with only 24 hours notice — stunt-casting coups often happen very last minute — Karvonides must surf the Web, cull vintage fashion mags and watch old American Bandstand footage to recreate authentic star looks. — Daniel R. Coleridge
"Connie Francis was the perfect lady on stage. She had a lot of influence on me," says Rimes, who wore a bubble bouffant brunette wig and endured three fittings for her demure Dior blue dress. "My mom walked in the makeup room and had no clue who I was. I was like, 'Hello? I'm here!' But Dick Clark was just taken aback by how much I looked like Connie."
Usher played Marvin Gaye and wore a three-piece cream suit with a shawl collar. "Bandstand is all 64 colors in the Crayola box. We have every color on that set," says executive producer Jonathan Prince. "Put Usher in white and all eyes can't help but go to him. That episode was about the power of a black entertainer surrounded by the white people on Bandstand."
Dressing as Dusty Springfield wasn't easy for feisty Vanessa Carlton. "It was a complete transformation," marvels Karvonides. Sighs Carlton: "On Bandstand, Dusty looked like the type of girl you'd take home to a conservative family. There was nothing rebellious about the costume of a singer then." Love Dusty's page fluff 'do — very Hairspray! "Oh my God, the wig," she chuckles. "I've never been blonde before — and for good reason."
Backstreet Boy Nick Carter also entered a fashion time warp to play bygone boy-band star Jay Black of Jay and the Americans. "Nick wore an avocado green sweater that's got the stripes down the front, which was the beginning of the Jetson look," Karvonides grins. "That look became extremely popular because all the astronauts in the space program favored it. They wore Ban-Lon sweaters like that in Mission Control. It was huge!"
This Sunday's petite guest, neo-soul singer Vivian Green ("Emotional Rollercoaster") gets pretty in vintage Schiaparelli pink as Motown star Brenda Holloway. Karvonides replicated the high glam gown off a classic album cover. "This dress is all about the pointy bust," Green giggles. "This is not me. I don't have this much up top! My boobs can't even fill up the bra I have on, it's so funny."