She’s a Success as a True Apparition
THE FILM: “Ghost”
THE SETUP: Sculptor Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) and investment banker Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) are the ultimate romantic yuppie couple with the most outstanding loft in New York’s Tribeca. I mean, a loft to cash in your IRAs for. But this idyllic setting is shattered when the so-sweet Sam is mugged and killed while on a night out with Molly. End of story? No way! Enter Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg, pictured), an outrageous Harlem psychic who finds out she really can communicate with the dead, and channels Sam’s warnings to Molly that her life is in danger.
THE LOOK: As the yuppie darlings, Swayze and Moore, wear very understated, simple clothes. (Lord knows they don’t want to upstage their loft!) Most of their wardrobe was purchased off the rack, though costume designer Ruth Morley found a sleeveless voile tuxedo shirt that Moore wears in an oh, so erotic love scene with Swayze, staged on a potter’s wheel. But it was Goldberg as the Harlem psychic who gave Morley the creative shivers. “I had to rethink the costumes when I found out it was going to be played by Whoopi,” she says. “I had to think of something more mad, more outrageous, so that she wasn’t just another Harlem psychic.” Two outfits are real apparitions: the tasseled and trimmed gold lame,homemade-looking muumuu Whoopi wears to her seances, and the totally traffic-stopping suit she wears to the bank where Swayze used to work. Morley said the inspiration for the muumuu came from the character: “She’s this wonderful, phony, outrageous creature. What could be better than gold?” As for the pink and black suit, Morley said, “I wanted something the character would think was the best thing to wear to a bank. I think we went over the top with that. I designed the suit and the Paramount costume department made it. It really made her stand out from her surroundings.”
THE MAKE: Everything that wasn’t off the rack was made at Paramount from Morley’s designs. The pink toque Whoopi wears with the bank suit came from Aardvark in Venice. Morley added a veil and the feathers to jazz it up, and added leather flowers to the hand-painted, very high heels Goldberg teeters on. Goldberg does have a couple of everyday outfits for the film, which Morley made from hand-painted fabric by Seattle artist Barbrie Stenderu. More Stenderu fabric decorates the seance room. Morley explains, “It all came from a combination of the film’s character and Whoopi’s persona to make the whole look something you wouldn’t see every day.”