Kath & Kim: articles

Style secrets of Kath and Kim

ILL-fitting bumsters, grey Velcro shoes and vases filled with pampas grass are more than mere props in the comic smash hit Kath and Kim.

The clothing and homes of Australia's funniest mother-and-daughter team are key to the show's success.

Kel's Coogi jumpers are as much part of his character as Kim's French-manicured talons.

The woman who dresses the stars is costume designer Kitty Stuckey, for whom sourcing clothes for the Kath and Kim cast is a simple matter of knowing where to shop.

"I go to all the cheap and cheerful women's wear places where Kath and Kim would shop and just see what is there and what makes me laugh," Ms Stuckey said. "If it makes me laugh, I buy it."

But a different approach is needed for each character.

"Kath and Kel are definitely second hand," Ms Stuckey said. "I go to Savers stores for them, while I like Southland and Victoria Market for Kim. Her things are in fashion, but at the funnier end of it."

It is often not until she sees the clothes on Gina Riley (Kim) or Jane Turner (Kath) that their comic effect is realised.

"I had no idea the bumsters that Gina wore on the show last week would look as hilarious as they did," she said. "We often have no expectations, so it's a bonus when they look that funny."

Some of the wardrobe is made especially, such as Sharon's emerald-green Riverdance costume or Kim's gold-satin cargo pants, but most of the clothes are off the rack.

"What we really like with Kim is that it's stuff that people are actually wearing," Ms Stuckey said. "You could go into any mall in Australia and see a lot of Kimmys."

The key to Kath's look is matching items from her younger years to produce a look that suggest too much thought has gone into it.

"She likes her jewellery to match her shoes and thinks of dressing as 'teaming with a theme'," Ms Stuckey said.

Sourcing furniture is the task of production designer Penny Southgate.

She has a team of four who scour shopping centres for items such as a Bumbaleena toy or the emu statue that stands in Kath's back yard.

Thousands of props are used, most of which were found at Fountain Gate, Southland, K-Mart, $2 Shops, Patterson Lakes Mall and Victoria Market.

Kath's taste is Harvey Norman, while Kim and Brett's apartment has Ikea written all over it.

Once Kath's house was chosen, Ms Southgate replaced the real owners' antique furniture with Kath-style items.

"We had to make the furniture relevant," Ms Southgate said.

"We are always trying to find things that they would use in the house and particularly the kitchen—nice, unusual things."

Setting up the house with "relevant" furniture was her first job, but Ms Southgate has added ornaments and implements during the course of the show.

"There will always be an idea that comes up suddenly, so there is a last-minute scramble down the street to find it," she said. "Shopping centres were always our greatest source."

By Catherine Lambert
October 19, 2003
The Herald Sun