Courtroom attire is pretty straightforward: Look as if you are going to an important event at a house of worship.
For men, at least those trying to convince a jury of their innocence, that means a conservative suit, ironed shirt, tie, polished shoes and a neat haircut. But then there was nothing straightforward about Phil Spector.
His courtroom attire was bizarre, as evidenced in HBO’s “Phil Spector,” premiering Sunday, March 24. It’s writer David Mamet’s take on the music producer as he prepared for his first murder trial. Al Pacino plays Spector.
Those who followed the trial know that every day Spector showed up in something outlandish.
“As a designer I was always mesmerized by the theatricality of how he approached the courtroom,” costume designer Debra McGuire tells Zap2it. “It vacillated and it had no rhyme or reason, which made it more interesting, which was the part I really wanted to capture in this. It goes in and out of this eccentricity. Even when we see him at home, there is a fabulous eccentricity. The suits were his attempt at being conservative in the courtroom.”
“All of his suits and shirts were custom made,” McGuire says. “The collars are a bit oversized, which is something, if you look at Phil Spector and you see there is an exaggeration, which could have been what he compensated for — being so petite.”
With a wig that makes him resemble a rejected Dr. Seuss character, this outfit hearkens back to the British invasion of bands in the ’60s. “This had a really nice rock-and-roll vibe to it,” McGuire says. “It is very British, and again we made this. And the jacket is on the long side, and I was making the Nehru shirts on the long side. I thought it would look a little more rock-and-roll. There was a dragonfly pin that Spector wore. I thought it was very quirky that he had this dragonfly. I don’t know if it was symbolic. The covers on the buttons are odd, metallic and mismatched. These were very conscious decisions to look this way. And then, of course, he has rings on several fingers.”
Spector’s wigs, such as this one, which would be more suited to a mom about to take her turn in car pool, were the topper to his outfits. This is another handmade silk shirt, with a modified Nehru collar.
It’s not easy for clothes or any other actor (here with Helen Mirren as his defense attorney) to divert attention from Pacino. This robe, however, is a scene stealer. The black silk pajamas are from Neiman Marcus. “This robe is from Palace Costume, and it is the most fabulous robe. It literally jumped off the hanger into my arms,” McGuire says. “This piece is so spectacular I felt I should use it.”