February 22, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST

”I met Scarlett on Hitchcock and she recommended me,” says Oscar- and Tony-nominated costume designer Julie Weiss, who created the wardrobe for Johansson & Co. for the revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (playing through March 30). ”[She] knows how to wear these clothes, [she] has presence. Imagine someone who can look big, small, strong, weak, can make a dress disappear when they feel like nothing and then bring it back. That’s a terrific thing!”

Southern Charms

From a pair of dyed-to-match heels to the exposed strap of a foundation garment, Julie Weiss says every nuance of Scarlett Johansson’s wardrobe was designed to help the actress transform into Tennessee Williams’ feline heroine. ”She starts off wearing a peach dress that has a level of sexuality to it, then she wears a slip that shows a different kind of sexuality. Her last dress is pale yellow…. It’s younger, [less sophisticated] than the first one, showing [the character’s] range,” says Weiss. ”It’s a period piece, but you can’t let the 1950s costumes get in the way of the words.”

From Hitchcock to Hellcat

”You have Scarlett Johansson playing Janet Leigh, playing Marion Crane in Psycho, in Hitchcock, and then you have her playing Maggie the Cat. It’s like watching a prism turn,” says Weiss of working with the actress on back-to-back projects. ”It’s a costume designer’s dream.”

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