Friday, June 8, 2012

Nolan Miller Dead at 79

Fashion designer Nolan Miller, responsible for glamorous looks seen on DYNASTY, THE COLBYS and many other series, died on Wednesday in Woodland Hills, California. He was 79.

Miller was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006 and announced his retirement in 2011 on TV shopping channel QVC for which he had designed a costume jewelry line for over 20 years.

With a weekly wardrobe budget of $35,000, Miller designed some 3,000 outfits for DYNASTY, which was on the air from 1981 to 1989.

“I never want to see them wearing the same outfit twice,” he said.

While Miller’s DYNASTY creations were his most famous, earning him an Emmy in 1984 and setting a trend for thick shoulder pads during a decade of power dressing, he also designed costumes for at least 40 movies and more than a dozen other series, including THE COLBYS, PACIFIC PALISADES, THE LOVE BOAT, CHARLIE'S ANGELS and MODELS INC.

When Tina Louise’s Ginger was shipwrecked on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, she wore a beige Nolan Miller dress sprinkled with silver bugle beads. On THE ADDAMS FAMILY, Morticia’s customary long black gown, evocative of a cobweb, was a Nolan Miller original.

But the DYNASTY look became so well known that it established Miller as one of the few costume designers to have a successful career on Seventh Avenue as well. The show itself inspired a DYNASTY-branded collection of power suits modeled after the clothes worn by Joan Collins, Linda Evans and Diahann Carroll.

For most of his career, Miller worked with the producer Aaron Spelling, designing clothes that would help set the tone of Mr. Spelling’s shows. “It was Nolan’s real vision of not just the clothes, but of the surroundings and milieu that were so important for Aaron,” said Douglas S. Cramer, the executive producer of DYNASTY. “I always referred to him as Aaron’s secret weapon.”

He explained how he would like to be remembered in an interview with the Archive of American Television:

Of course, it would be nice to be remembered as a nice person. I've always tried to do right and not hurt anyone. There are such amazing talents in this world, like Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga and Dior ... Talents that really border on genius. I will never be remembered as a great designer. It'll probably be on my tombstone that I did Dynasty. But my forte, I think, is that I am capable of making women look pretty. I love seeing women look glamorous, and look pretty, and when I was married my wife said I turned her from muslin and cotton lace into gold lamé and sable. And that's what I seem to do to everyone.

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