A Closer Look at the Glam-Rock Heels of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

If there’s one man up for the challenge of bringing together glam rock and B-horror films in a single costume, William Ivey Long is it. The creative team behind Fox’s version of the beloved stage production-turned-theatrical movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” looked to Long’s decades of Broadway, film and television experience to bring a contemporary eye to the new TV movie. Footwear News spent time with Long in his Manhattan studio to talk shoes and more.

William Ivey Long Fox's Rocky Horror Picture Show Costumes
William Ivey Long in his studio.
CREDIT: Thomas Iannaccone.

How did it feel reimagining on one of the most iconic shows?

“If you dare to reimagine ‘Rocky Horror’ — and I’ll tell you, it took me a moment because it takes hubris with a capital H — it’s the most successful continuously shown movie in the history of film. I know it is hubris.”

What drove your costume decisions?

“It’s ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ reimagined, featuring images inspired by 1930s Hollywood because it’s in a movie theater and Dr. Frank-N-Furter is an amalgam of old glamour, 1970s glam rock, B-horror films and Norman Rockwell naiveté in Brad and Janet.”

Laverne Cox has some major fashion moments in the movie as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. What informed her costumes?

“Dr. Frank-N-Furter is a 60 percent Grace Jones, 30 percent Tina Turner and 10 percent Beyoncé.”

Cox wears fishnets that were inspired by David Bowie. Tell me about those.

“As it turns out, we were in the design process when Bowie died. I started with [the image of the David Bowie cobweb-and-hand costume from the 1970s]. I knew it had to be different. So I found a latex company in Toronto, and I designed a fishnet. I wanted it to look like not just like fishnets but cobwebs. The latex added a bit of bondage to the look.”

William Ivey Long Fox's Rocky Horror Picture Show Costumes
One of Long’s mood boards for “Rocky Horror.”
CREDIT: Thomas Iannaccone.

William Ivey Long Fox's Rocky Horror Picture Show Costumes
Laverne Cox, as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, wearing Long’s potato-print, handprint lab coat.

Cox also has a major moment with her lab coat. What inspired that? 

“I think her most original look was the lab coat. I knew it had to be special because the director and I talked about how we wanted her lab coat to look like she’s fashioned it into a Joan Crawford look with the shoulders. It’s an homage. Then it occurred to me, that it’s just white so I made a potato print in my hotel room and I tried to make it look like a hand. It just turned out looking just like the primal hand which was perfect. We did some Jasper Johns-like blood splatter and we did six of these because we had to take so many times. Copying that was quite the complicated thing.”

How did you decide on footwear for the film?

“Since Laverne’s character is the leader of the Transylvanians, she sort of sets the tone. She isn’t exactly glam rock. She’s old movies and cut apart things and fashioned them together. Her shoes had to be more movie star: platforms and Joan Crawford shoes. We matched the shoes from the lab coat with that handprint. I did lots of those. We thought about boots but once we figured out the webbing she was so tall we didn’t want to cut the ‘tall drink of water’ with boots. Christina Milian loves a platform and those heels were at least 6 inches. She wore them like she was born in them.”

To see all the top looks from the movie click through the gallery below. 

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