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How a Fil-Am designed the costumes in Aretha Franklin biopic 'Respect'

Yong Chavez | TFC News Hollywood

Posted at Dec 09 2021 12:59 PM

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In recreating the wardrobe of legendary singer Aretha Franklin played by Jennifer Hudson in the movie 'Respect,' Clint Ramos did extensive research and then used his own creativity.

"She was very photographed beginning the Columbia years to her death. But before that, there was not a lot of photographs of her so I had to imagine that through research, using all of that knowledge about historical garments. So I had to really conjure that up. And also, we don't know what she wore in her house. We don't know what she wore when she was down and out. So a lot of that was just like me imagining what looks could have been," Ramos says.

Ramos, who was born and raised in Cebu, also shares how his Filipina mother Erlinda influenced his work in 'Respect.' Franklin and his mother came from the same era.

"When I was working on 'Respect,' I drew a lot from my mom. I drew a lot from the way she dressed. I drew a lot from watching her getting dressed when I was a kid. There's a scene in the movie that I used one of my mom's fur coats. Also, I did this musical called Here Lies Love about Imelda Marcos and I used that same coat in that show."

Apart from his high-profile costume design work, the Tony-winning artist is also a production designer for high-profile Broadway shows like 'Slave Play' and 'Once on This Island.' Ramos says he finds inspiration 'everywhere.'

"I think inspiration is a responsibility. It’s not something magical. Being inspired is a job so you have to pursue inspiration. You have to make sure that you are inspired. Basically it’s like fuel, you know, so you have to find the gas station, otherwise the car is not gonna run. I get it from everywhere. I get it from a piece of music. I get it from something that I see. I get it from human interaction. Costume design is not only about fashion, it's also about character. I like to observe how people behave, and how their appearance actually affects their behavior."

Ramos says his family also keeps him inspired. Although he also worked on Isabel Sandoval's film 'Lingua Franca,' 'Respect' is only his first studio film and his work has already received praises from critics during this award season.