Photo Credit: Richard Cartwright / Universal Pictures.

Photo Credit: Richard Cartwright / Universal Pictures.

Photo Credit: Richard Cartwright / Universal Pictures.

Photo Credit: Richard Cartwright / Universal Pictures.

“Pitch Perfect 2”

May 29, 2015

Valli Herman

The Barden Bellas are back and they’re as bold and beautiful as ever in “Pitch Perfect 2.” In the second installment, the champion singing group must recover from a humiliating performance-gone-wrong to regain its position in the pantheon of acapella.

The box office-topping film was directed by Elizabeth Banks, and stars Anna Kendrick as Beca, Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy, Hailee Steinfeld as Emily, Brittany Snow as Chloe and Banks as Gail.

In 2012, Costume Designer Salvador Perez Jr. created the look for the original “Pitch Perfect” and returned to give the sequel its signature style.

“Every performance had a look and the costumes were all custom made,” said Perez, who initially was wary that he’d taken things too far.

“It was about how outrageous I can be,” he said. “That was the whole theme of the movie and they let me have fun.”

Perez created a set of voluminous track suits in shimmery gold for a key scene. “I thought, ‘I’m never going to get away with this.’ But they were like, ‘Great. We love it. Do more,’” he said.

To add drama to the scene, the Barden Bellas rip off the track pants to reveal black, form-fitting leggings. The task challenged Perez to build in the right kind of fasteners for the tear-away pants.

“I used to do snaps, a basting stitch or Velcro,” he said. This time, he borrowed a technique from a colleague.

“I had a P.A. who worked for Julie Weiss on ‘Blades of Glory.’ Julie uses magnets. We went through many versions of magnets that were lightweight, but that had enough power to pull the seams together while they were dancing, but weak enough to let go without ripping the clothing,” he said.

Perez experimented with different magnets until he discovered industrial versions the size of watch batteries. Their tiny dimensions but huge power made them tend to flip over and attach to each other. He stabilized the magnets by wrapping them in fabric before slipping them into seams.

“Also, I designed the tracksuit to have black trim so that it was part of the design and it hid the magnets,” he said. “I knew what I had to do, so I designed around it.”

The technique also became useful in a scene featuring Clay Matthews, one of six Green Bay Packers that Perez dressed in tuxedo jackets.

“We had the fittings and everything was approved. Then I get a call. ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if the sleeves ripped off?’” Sure it would be funny — but the crew was shooting in Baton Rouge, La., far from easy access to large-size men’s formal wear to buy a duplicate (their shirts ranged to 22-inch necks with 38-inch sleeves). Perez had to modify his one and only jacket for Matthews and credits a local seamstress with removing the sleeves, finishing the inside seams and helping place a ring of magnets in the armseye.

“Thank god I had the magnets and the staff knew how to work with them,” he said. Victory, once more.

“Pitch Perfect 2” is now in theaters.


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