‘Sparkle’ Costume Designer On Dressing Legend Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks’ Wardrobe Malfunctions

Whitney: Her Life in Photos
Whitney Houston's Life in Photos
After two Academy Award nominations and 25 years of styling, Ruth Carter took on her biggest task to date: working with Whitney Houston on Sparkle, which would be the singer’s last on-screen performance.

In a recent interview with Celebuzz, the costume designer opened up about dressing Houston for the film, her inspiration for the sparkling attire and the on-set wardrobe malfunctions of stars Jordin Sparks and Tika Sumpter.

Prior to meeting the cast, Carter admits she was apprehensive about working with the late Houston.

“I was nervous about meeting Whitney. I wanted to be super beyond prepared because I knew that fashion was laid at her feet for most of her life,” Carter told Celebuzz. “I worked with the best collectors, [and] I wanted a fresh approach to her wardrobe… I wanted to take Sparkle out beyond its limits!”

Where did she get inspiration for the ’60s-style ensembles?

Carter, who designed 14 gowns and stage costumes for the film, studied the work of Rudy Gernreich, toiled over Balenciaga’s designs and studied magazines on avant garde and retro-chic fashion.

Despite all the preparation, she admits there were still some wardrobe malfunctions on set. “It is normal, everyday business as usual to have a wardrobe malfunction — or two, or three!” she said.

“Jordin Sparks’ vintage red suit had a little teeny tiny hole that we did not see until the cinematographer zoomed in on her. We stitched a strand of pearls on top of the hole to hide it,” she said.

“The biggest malfunction was with the jewelry dresses, as I liked to call them. I bought two-inch stones in red, black, and clear that were linked together like chain mail. They weighed a ton! When we filmed, Tika Sumpter’s dress in particular kept falling apart. We’d have to keep stopping because if we kept going, the whole dress would be on the floor!” she revealed.

Check out Carter’s designs when Sparkle hits theaters August 17.

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