TV Fashion: Melinda Gordon from 'Ghost Whisperer' (CBS)
I see stylish people
When Jennifer Love Hewitt, who plays Melinda, went looking for a costume designer, she wanted the best - and she found it in Joseph Porro, a former assistant to Halston and Geoffrey Beene. Though Porro had never done a television series in his lengthy career (his lone excursion to the small screen earned him an Emmy nomination for 2003's "The Music Man"), he immediately connected with the star.
As Hewitt's character is the co-owner of an antiques store, Porro has the opportunity to explore vintage clothing in a way that is both updated and exquisite without being dowdily trapped in period.
"If she were playing a lawyer or a cop, we wouldn't be able to have nearly as much fun as we do here," Porro says. Though some of what Melinda wears can be found in stores - Porro uses some Donna Karan, Tahari and Narciso Rodriguez, which tend to be cut well for Hewitt's shape - at least half of the clothing in each episode is vintage.
"I look for pieces that work well with a very feminine, shapely body," Porro says, "but with this tiny little waist and the breasts - by the way, they're real and they're beautiful, and I ought to know because I see them every week - she's just so feminine it can be really tough to fit her. That body type is a challenge. She's only 5-2 with tiny little feet, so you want to try and add length.
"I find a lot of things online and at the 30 to 40 vintage dealers in the L.A. area," he adds.
When purchasing vintage clothing, Porro suggests starting from the inside out. Find a good foundation garment, and work your way out.
Recently Porro found a beautiful brown cocktail dress worn by Loretta Young that both he and Hewitt fell in love with. "It has all of this workmanship from the inside out," he says. "All of this thought went into it. ... . And the oldest garment that we've used was an 1840s dress bodice. It was a museum piece from the Henry Ford Museum, and we modified it - we sexied it up. I cut the collar lower and capped the sleeves and she wore it with (True Religion) jeans, and she looked sexy as hell in it. But the embroidery work on this piece was something that would be almost impossible to do today. I guess you could say I'm a real snob about things like that - I love couture, I love rare fabrics."
For a sampling of Porro's work on the series, visit CBS'official "Ghost Whisperer" page and click on the "Melinda's Closet" tab under "Extras."