'Anna Nicole' costume designer on re-creating Smith's iconic looks and working around Agnes Bruckner's prosthetic breasts
Five years after her death, Anna Nicole Smith (née Vickie Lynn Hogan) is getting the Lifetime treatment. Agnes Bruckner stars as Smith in Anna Nicole, the rags-to-riches tale of “a pretty, but plain girl growing up in small town Texas” who “transformed herself though sheer willpower” into a pseudo-celebrity whose demise was a tragic end to a tragic story.
Costume designer Deborah Everton (whose credits include The Craft, Star Trek: First Contact, and Dick) was tasked with outfitting Bruckner — and her pneumatic prosthetics — in a wardrobe befitting Anna Nicole. Everton sat down with EW to explain how she re-created Smith’s signature looks, describe the challenges of dressing the Playboy model’s Amazonian figure, and dispel the myth that the Guess Girl was a Wal-Mart shopper.
“I wanted her wardrobe to be fun for the audience to look at. I didn’t want to exploit people’s expectations,” Everton says of using costumes to bring levity to the otherwise heavy biopic. “I showed her progression as she learned about style and fashion. There was a time when she came into money and wasn’t educated yet as to what was tasteful and beautiful. Her look tended to be, I don’t want to say gaudy, but ‘more is more.’ She learned over the course of her brief life how to edit [her clothes], so that’s what I did.”
Click on to see some of Bruckner’s best Anna Nicole costume moments.
When it came to scenes depicting Anna Nicole’s career as a stripper, Everton said she toned things down in order to avoid over-exposure. “We kept Agnes a lot more covered [than Anna would have been]. I dressed her in everything from Victoria’s Secret to La Perla. If it looked pretty and feminine and had a certain wow factor, I didn’t care where it came from,” the costume designer remembers. Was Bruckner shy about taking off her clothes? “She was game. She went for it, but she has nothing to hide. She has a beautiful figure and gorgeous skin.”
Next: Who’s That Guess Girl?
Who’s That Guess Girl?
After posing for Playboy, Smith gained wider fame when she replaced Claudia Schiffer as the face of the Guess clothing label. “I [re-created] most of the Guess looks in our workshop because those items aren’t available anymore,” says Everton. “Anna’s association with Guess helped educate her to not wear a whole store at one time. It upped her fashion intelligence. From that point on in the film, you see her tastes evolve.”
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“Agnes is the jeans and T-shirt girl, not the high-heels and push-up bra type. It was amazing the transformation she went through. When she walked in as [Anna], I didn’t even recognize her,” Everton says of Bruckner’s transformation. The most obvious detail of the actress’ Anna Nicole look? “They had several pairs of fake breasts they would put on her, but I would say 80 percent of the time, the breasts were built up in [the wardrobe] department using padded bras and chicken cutlets. It was a lot of ‘How padded can we get her?’
It Costs A Lot to Look This Cheap
“Anna Nicole actually bought beautiful clothing. She put it together a little eccentrically, but if you break it down and look at each item she wore… She liked to buy clothes, that’s for sure,” Everton says of Smith’s aesthetic. “People say, ‘Oh, she was a Playboy model,’ but she shopped at Neiman Marcus. She wasn’t a Wal-Mart girl at all. People made up their minds before they got to know her.”
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“There’s a gold lame Ralph Lauren dress that Anna wears in the South of France when [Guess co-founder] Georges Marciano introduces her to European society. She makes an entrance,” recalls Everton, who had just one week to prep for the project, which included 90 costume changes for Bruckner alone. “I wanted the look of a Hollywood goddess, so I selected this dress because [it reminded me] of an Oscar. She really does look like a beautiful statue.”
Anna Nicole premieres on Lifetime June 29.