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March/April 2005 | Behind the Scenes: Vertigo a Go-Go!

March/April 2005 | Behind the Scenes: Vertigo a Go-Go!

Go behind the mise-en-scene of our San Francisco Vertigo homage with Style Network's domestic goddess Brini Maxwell, who flawlessly filled Kim Novak's star shoes (after finding look-alikes in a thrift store!)

It's kind of eerie how much you end up looking like Vertigo's Judy/Madeleine (Kim Novak). To pull that off, the photo shoot must have been either a complete nightmare or an absolute blast!
That San Francisco trip was the culmination of one of the best vacations I've ever had. It started in Palm Springs [Calif.], then L.A., then a drive up the coast to San Luis Obispo, where I stayed at the Madonna Inn before continuing up the coast on Highway 1 to San Francisco. I was with good friends all the way, and had other friends come and go during the trip. I spent my off hours in San Francisco buying vintage clothing for the second season of [The Brini Maxwell Show on the Style Network and E! Channel]. I sent home about 200 pounds of it! Then Bradford [Noble, the photographer] gave me a tour of San Francisco nightlife that he called a "Venue Spin."

Were there any stressful moments?
The weather was unseasonably hot when I arrived, and I was worried that all the wool clothing I had brought would be suffocating, but it cooled off just enough to make the wardrobe perfect. The shoot came off beautifully. The weather was perfect for us--sun-dappled in Muir Woods, clear and bright at the Palace of Fine Arts, ominous and blustery at Fort Point... We had a bit of a turf war going on when we went to Fort Point. Bradford asked the guard if we could go beyond a fence to get the images we needed, and the guard called in the question and got an affirmative. Little did we know that his jurisdiction ended on the near side of the fence. We found that out after we were questioned and later asked to vacate the area by the Golden Gate Bridge Authority. Luckily, it wasn't before we got the image we needed. The ranger assigned to us at Muir Woods was very friendly and knowledgeable [and cute, insists Bradford]. He told us that the most beautiful time to visit Muir Woods was in the spring--perfect information for the March/April issue of The Out Traveler [in which the Vertigo images appear].

How did you capture Kim Novak's look?
Capturing Kim Novak's look was all about studying it. I looked at key scenes in the film over and over again, identifying wardrobe pieces, figuring out how the hair was styled, making sure all the details were right. I usually wear suntan-colored panty hose; for this I had to wear nude. I had bought most of what I needed for the shoot clothing-wise in New York in the weeks preceding my trip. I found the fabled gray suit at a thrift shop here in town for $28 and had it altered slightly to make it more exactly right. I was amazed that I was able to get so close to the original with such little money and fuss. But the white coat had eluded me. The first day I was in San Francisco I went to one of the local thrift shops and scored the coat I was looking for! It was quite a coup, considering how specific it is. A few key Items I had--the blue coatdress she wears at Fort Point, the white scarf, the black bag she carries with the white coat, the bag and stole she carries with the gray suit, the shoes, the small bird pin she wears on the gray suit.

What inspired you most?
The inspiration was always Hitchcock's genius. His ability to create a mood is unparalleled. That mood was our constant companion during the shoot, playing its part while shooting and retreating to the back of our minds when we were in between shots.

How did you slip into Miss Novak's shoes?
Ms. Novak's shoes were big ones to fill. Still, it was wonderful to step into them for a while--her portrayal of Madeleine is vivid and remarkable, and it was exciting to find myself dressed in the same way and posed in the same locations as she had been nearly half a century ago.

What's next for you?
The timing of this issue is quite auspicious for me. The second season of my show is tentatively set to debut in March, and I officially begin working with Bacardi as the spokesperson for their Flavors line in April. I'll be in Palm Springs with Bacardi for the White Party in March.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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