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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Screen Saver, Part I

Cesar Padilla, owner of Cherry vintage store, pops a few questions to Emmy nominated costume designer John Dunn...

Having a vintage clothing business in New York City has afforded me the privilege of working with many creative and talented people. Over the next few months, I will be conducting a series of interviews with costume designers from the worlds of film and television. First up is John Dunn, whom I met when we worked on The Notorious Bettie Page. I've since had the pleasure of supplying clothes to him for Factory Girl, I'm Not There and the pilot of Mad Men, the show for which he's currently nominated for an Emmy...

The cast of Mad Men

Let's start with the basics. What was your first film?
New York Stories, directed by Martin Scorcese and starring Nick Nolte and Roseanna Arquette.

What was the first outfit you ever made?
I was in the first grade and my teacher, Sister Mary Joseph Ignatius, had a class contest. Each of us had to make an outfit for the Virgin Mary on her holy day. Most of the kids made things out of crêpe paper and foil. I went home at lunch and picked an armload of flowers from our lilac bush. I fashioned a spectacular robe and crown out of them.

Who have you most liked dressing?
Gretchen Moll as Bettie Page. Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan and Heath Ledger as Robbie in I'm Not There. David Bowie as Andy Warhol in Basquiat. Guy Pierce as Andy Warhol in Factory Girl. My favorite films ever are The Women (the 1939 version), Doctor Zhivago and Bonnie and Clyde.

I'm Not There

What's your dream film?
Javier Bardem and Cate Blanchett, directed by Todd Haynes.

Typically, what's your biggest challenge?
Convincing film directors to add dream ballets to the script.

What was your worst experience?
It's one of my life goals to never work in Shreveport, Louisiana, ever again.

Your most embarrassing moment?
Stabbing an A-list actress in her butt with a huge safety pin when I was adjusting her pregnancy padding on our first fitting. No regrets, though. Except not having a trust fund.

Now, darling, what was your worst drama queen moment?
How dare you? Don't ever, ever ask me that question again.

Lee and I love it when a bulbous cockhead is visible through pants. Was it your idea to make Seth Rogen's trousers such a prominent feature in Pineapple Express? I'd like to think that was your expert tailoring.
We weren't even thinking about that! We spent countless hours fitting that suit so it would look like a cheap suit that Seth's character had stolen from his uncle's closet.

Do you sew?
Yes, but don't tell anyone.

What sewing machine do you use?
One that someone else is operating. I'm pretty lousy, but when forced at gunpoint to sew, I'm almost passable on a vintage Singer Featherweight. They're indestructible and unstoppable.

Where were you when you heard that you were nominated for an Emmy?
One of my closest friends called me at six in the morning while I was in my bathroom upchucking some bad shellfish. I instantly felt much better.

What are you wearing to the Emmys?
It's a black tie event and Mad Men is set in 1960 New York, so I'm going in a vintage tux à la Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses.

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