Before movies, television was my entree to glamour. That is, the transformative powers of a gown on a woman who fits it like a glove. The right dress with the best accessory—a personality that fits it—is gold.
In the case of the shows lucky to have Norman Miller helming the costume department, it typically meant ratings gold.
I first tuned into TV quite young as it also served as a kind of English teacher to my mother, who came to this country not speaking a word of the language yet with a life-long love to talk. Though always well dressed, and usually in heels and pencil skirts, she wasn’t given to the high-wattage glam of her friend Angela, a suburban incarnation of Sophia Loren who lived two doors down, let alone the glamour gals who populated late 1960s and early 1970s programming.
Think of Carolyn Jones as Morticia in that second-skin black sheath with its endless tattered hem on the original “Addams Family.” Or Eva Gabor in those pink feathered confections to highlight the contrast of this cosmopolitan chickadee on a country farm in “Green Acres.” Or Tina Louise’s curves dripping in champagne-colored bugle beads as Ginger in “Gilligan’s Island.”
Like our neighbor, these women defied the pedestrian conventions of their surroundings, turning up the fabulous factor irrespective of how ridiculous it might seem. They were rebels in red lipstick and lamé. And we all tuned in weekly to see how they would look.
Mr. Miller, who died at 79 on Wednesday, hit the sartorial mark so very many times as we grew up on the many TV shows that he costumed, many in collaboration with Aaron Spelling, who thought of the designer as his “secret weapon.” Together, they defined each decade with a new look: “Charlies Angels,” “Dynasty” and its off shoots…
After all, if clothes make the woman, the women Mr. Miller dressed made the shows.
R.I.P. Mr. Miller.
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