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Catherine Zeta-Jones: 'Chicago'

By Amy Powell

Zeta-Jones is a 1920s dancer in "Chicago."

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(InStyle) -- Catherine Zeta-Jones shows off more than just her acting abilities and stunning looks in the screen version of "Chicago." The formally trained singer and dancer was the first to be cast in the period film (set in the Roaring Twenties)— as Velma Kelley, a vixen vaudeville performer and murderess. "Like Velma she's smart, kind of vulnerable," says hairstylist Karyn Huston, "and she's able to make Velma likeable even though she's a murderer." Costume designer Colleen Atwood agrees, adding that Zeta-Jones's natural glamour matches that of Velma's. "The idea was that even if she didn't have two nickles to rub together she looked liked a million bucks. Even her prison uniform still had a little Velma glam."


While actresses do make sacrifices for movie roles, Zeta-Jones did not have to lop off her locks for this one—she wore a wig. According to Huston the clean bob with short bangs, a la Louise Brooks, was a perfect fit. "We wanted to make it look like Catherine got her hair cut, so we matched the wig perfectly to her hair color." Although Huston was styling a wig, she says you can use the same steps on your own hair to create this glamorous look. Start by adding Sexy Hair Concepts Soy Smoothie Straightening Tonic to damp hair, then blow it dry with a Mason Pearson brush. "You don't want to use a round brush because you don't want a lot of height with this look. You just want to put a nice bend at the ends," she advises. Finally, after applying a few drops of Kérastase Nutri-Instant Serum to the hair, go over it with a flat iron. That step, Huston says, is the trick to ultra-shiny hair.


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"Velma's a show girl so her style has a bit of flash," says Atwood. In this photo Velma dons a velvet and satin cloche that was purchased from a vintage collection, and a long glass necklace that Atwood found at a fleamarket. She also thinks people may go crazy by all of the fishnet stockings on screen. "I probably went through 100 pairs each," says Atwood who outfitted Zeta-Jones in stockings by Wolford and her co-star Renee Zellweger in ones by Agent Provocateur. Other undergarments making star appearances are garter belts. "I made the ones in the film, but Victoria's Secret has a very sexy line of them right now," says Atwood.


"Velma opens the movie as a very strong character and she remains that way; her colors are black and bold," says Atwood. "She has complete fearlessness." Atwood researched 1920's dress by going through books, archives and journalistic photographs. Before designing anything, she also watched the dance rehearsals to see how much movement was involved. "Dancing was a huge influence on the design," she says. "It limited some things, but it all works in a positive way." In this photo Velma Kelley makes a court appearance wearing a luxurious chocolate brown cashmere coat with a fox collar, over a satin slip dress with black lace trim.

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