Rating the latest sci-fi costumes -- ''Waterworld,'' ''Virtuosity,'' ''Judge Dredd,'' and ''Johnny Mnemonic'' predict fashion's future

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated August 04, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

With Waterworld, we’ve seen the future, and it isn’t pretty — at least sartorially speaking. But Kevin Costner’s mildewy leather is only one version of what may one day be au courant. Johnny Mnemonic, Judge Dredd, and Virtuosity offer alternative views. To sort it all out, we asked CNN style maven Elsa Klensch, Star Trek: Voyager couturier Robert Blackman, and Renny Pritikin, director of the San Francisco Center for the Arts, for their takes on Hollywood’s fashion forecast.

Though the polar ice caps have melted by the time Waterworld begins, Pritikin says Costner’s grungy tatters hark back to the ”’60s Italian movement art povera, where they made an art of scrounging.” Blackman deems the look classic: ”It’s Camelot and Romeo and Juliet for the ’90s.” Klensch isn’t impressed. ”It looks like remnants of things Costner wore during a horrific experience.”

”I hope fashion progresses to something better than this,” Klensch says of the tight blue leather Denzel Washington’s cybercop wears. Her cohorts agree. ”Predictable and disappointing,” says Pritikin. ”It looks like a Robert Mapplethorpe, Nazi drag, S &amp M kind of thing.” Blackman detects tamer influences: ”It’s a World War I outfit with a touch of chauffeur.”

Judge Dredd
Though Klensch sniffs at Sly Stallone’s neo-modern garb — ”He looks like he’s showing off” — his costar Diane Lane fares better, in a scaled-down version of his getup. ”It’s some action-packed culture where little women can have enormous padded shoulders,” marvels Blackman.

Johnny Mnemonic
The ragtag look of Keanu Reeves’ costars has an artistic pedigree, says Pritikin, who vouches that William Gibson, author of the book that inspired the film, took the aesthetic from artist Mark Pauline: ”Mark builds war machines and dresses like that,” he says. ”He’s a genius.” Klensch also approves: ”I like the leather and the soft lines.” Seconds Blackman, ”It has that Mad Max notion of ensemblage in a more sophisticated way.”