Tour Couture: What's Madonna Wanna Be? How does Madonna decide what to wear on a concert tour?
Her closet must hold the looks of a hundred women, the garb and props of all her fugitive personalities -- the desperately seeking more cheap jewelry look, the sexy and selfish "Material Girl" look, the bosomy bleached blond Marilyn look, the skinny and sheltered "Papa Don't Preach" look. How does she reconcile the different Madonnas on stage?
She has the help of Marlene Stewart, who has been designing Madonna's clothes for the music videos, the album covers and the concert tours since the "Material Girl" video in 1984.
"She has drastically changed her style," Stewart says of Madonna's clothes over the years. "And this tour is great because it is a compilation of all of her personas."
Madonna, who began a 16-city U.S. tour in Miami yesterday and will perform here at RFK Stadium on July 2, provides a challenge for a costume designer. She dances in every number and changes her outfit every other song. And Madonna, who is 28, can be very demanding. "She's very conscious of what she likes and what she wants," Stewart says. "During the designing stage it's very important to take her input and my input and make it work. She told me the mood of the show and I gave her sketches."
Madonna still wears underwear as outerwear, and her costumes often echo avant-garde European fashion. She begins the concert with "Open Your Heart," wearing a 1930s cabaret look a` la Jean-Paul Gaultier -- fishnet stockings and cone-shaped pasties with dangling tassles. "She depends on people who work for her to be very up on what's going on in their department," says Stewart, who before moving to L.A. had a showroom in New York.
Stewart's favorite costume is the one she has designed for Madonna's "Material Girl" number. It's a gold lame' bustier and a short, hot pink hoop skirt, both "solidly encrusted with material objects -- toy watches, ashtrays, coins, paper money, plastic fruit." The bustier has a red rubber lobster sewn onto the front.
Any new Madonna identities emerging on tour?
"What's really important is that she doesn't wear any jewelry at all on this tour," Stewart says. "Jewelry used to be her statement, but now it's much more her face and silhouette. I feel her face is getting very sophisticated ... Now, less is more."
Males, Coloring Their Opinions It has become more acceptable for a man to cover gray, according to a recent survey. Never mind about John Forsythe, Steve Martin, Johnny Carson or Jason Robards.
The survey was conducted by Combe Inc., makers of Grecian Formula, a product that dyes hair gradually -- over a 30-week period. The people at Combe decided it was time to introduce a quicker solution, a shampoo-in hair color called Just For Men. The new product takes five minutes to cover that gray, and the roots only need to be touched up every four to six weeks. The kit comes with a pair of extra-large plastic gloves so his man-sized hands won't turn the color of his hair.
The survey asked 1,006 middle-aged men (40-65 years old) about their appearance and found the majority agreed with the statements "It's okay for a man to have cosmetic surgery," "Middle age is a state of mind" and "Too much gray makes a man look old."
"People want to color their hair to put their internal sense of themselves in line with how they feel," says Leon Schiffman, a behavioral scientist and "age perception" expert at City University of New York, who analyzed the survey.
Frankie Welch, Wrapped in Memories Frankie Welch has been digging around in her basement these days, and there's nothing down there but old scarves. Just what she was looking for.
Welch, a local designer and Washington social presence, is preparing for her 20-year design retrospective at the Athenaeum in Alexandria. Some of the thousands of her textile designs -- which have been screened onto totes, cocktail napkins and scarves -- will be framed and on display to raise money for the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association. Welch, who has tied a scarf around every doorknob of the Frankie Welch boutique in Old Town, has designed commemorative scarves for corporations, colleges and museums, as well as ones for the past five presidents.
It hasn't always been just scarves. A dress she designed for Betty Ford, who is honorary chairman of the exhibition, is in the Smithsonian's First Ladies' collection. And in 1963 Welch designed "the Frankie," a very popular long hostess gown inspired by the Japanese kimono.
Her favorite creations are her architectural textile designs, which are composites of various architectural details. Her Corcoran Gallery of Art scarf, for instance, shows the lions out front, the columns and the decorative rosettes. "I'm a frustrated architect," Welch says.
Tickets to the opening gala July 1 are $35 and available at the Athenaeum. Admission is otherwise free and the show runs through July 15.
Notes de la Mode
Kaffe Fassett, the author of the knitting book "Glorious Knits," is coming out with "Glorious Needlepoint" later this year. Fassett, who lives in England, will give a slide lecture at Montgomery College in Rockville on July 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $18 and available at the Jackie Chalkley boutiques, Foxhall Square and the Willard Collection.
Calvin Klein is planning on lots of summer fun ahead, and he's paying for it already. The price he paid for three adjoining pieces of property in East Hampton, Long Island, has been made public: $5.8 million. Washington Post fashion editor Nina Hyde is on assignment. BY MARLENE STEWART FOR THE WASHINGTON POST From left, Madonna's cabaret look, "Isla Bonita" costume and "Material Girl" outfit. Kaffe Fassett in one of his designs. Frankie Welch in her studio. From an ad for Just For Men.