Jennifer Lopez: Lo Goes Luxe
Jennifer Lopez's new romantic comedy, Maid in Manhattan, is a lesson in luxury.
Pygmalion stories have always been a Hollywood favorite. The most memorable include My Fair Lady, in which a shrewish Audrey Hepburn is transformed into a sophisticated siren, and Pretty Woman, which saw Julia Roberts shed her streetwalker style in favor of society-girl attire. Now the dream factory is unleashing yet another Cinderella story, Maid in Manhattan, in which Jennifer Lopez stars as a single mom from the Bronx who works as a maid in a posh hotel. When she's mistaken for a wealthy woman of the world by a dashing, rich politician (Ralph Fiennes), she neglects to correct him.
Oscar-winning costume designer Albert Wolsky (Grease, Bugsy, Runaway Bride) had his work cut out for him on Maid in Manhattan because he had to dress Jennifer Lopez for three completely different looks--when in the Bronx, when in her maid's uniform and when she gets dressed up for Fiennes. For her big scene at a ball, Wolsky chose to dress her in a vintage pink Bob Mackie dress, which is strikingly similar to the white gown Grace Kelly used to seduce Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief. "We needed something that moved when she danced," says Wolsky. "And we needed the dress to show off the necklace, which is important to the plot." That necklace, along with those accompanying earrings, were borrowed from Harry Winston. "They must cost over a million," Wolsky guesses. Though Mackie's dress steals the picture, there are plenty of other pretty pieces that impress. Just before Lopez meets Fiennes, she looks through one of the guest's closets and on a dare tries on an ensemble--a white Dolce & Gabbana coat and pants--which is why Fiennes mistakes her for one of the hotel's guests.
New York City is a treasure trove of photogenic locales, but for Maid in Manhattan, director Wayne Wang mainly stayed north of Grand Central Terminal. Some scenes take place in Central Park and Saks Fifth Avenue, but most are filmed inside The Waldorf=Astoria on Park Avenue and 50th St., which in the movie is called The Beresford. The Waldorf=Astoria is richer in history than most public figures. Originally opened on 33rd St. in 1893 by millionaire William Waldorf Astor as The Waldorf Hotel, it merged a few years later with the Astoria Hotel, which was located on an adjacent lot, and became The Waldorf=Astoria. In 1929, the hotel was closed and reopened 15 blocks north to its present location to allow for more room. Today, it remains one of the largest art deco buildings in the world. If the size doesn't astound you, the celebrity guests will. This is where Jack and Jackie Kennedy spent their wedding night, Marilyn Monroe resided while studying at the Actors Studio, and everyone from Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Albert of Monaco have spent the night.