The original concept sketches for the 'Wonder Woman' TV show costume are both gorgeous and revelatory
"Technical difficulties" kept Lynda Carter from wearing a bikini.
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Costume designer Donald Lee Feld had worked with the biggest names in showbiz. He suited up Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., in Robin and the 7 Hoods. He wrapped Natalie Wood in ornate pink and black lingerie for the pie fight in The Great Race. He clothed Elvis and Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas. He became such a style guru that he shortened his name to just "Donfeld," which sounded more like a fashion house. Which was appropriate. Donfeld's bold clothes popped off the screen.
In 1971, Donfeld landed another high-profile gig, crafting mod two-piece swimwear for Jill St. John in the James Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever. St. John wore a harlequin long-sleeved bikini of purple and red, with white and black piping. It looked more like a superhero costume than pool wear. A few years later, Donfeld would find himself literally designing superhero threads.
Donfeld was the principle costume designer on the Wonder Woman TV series, which first aired on ABC before moving to CBS in its second and third seasons. His sketches remained quite true to the character's comic book look, though his graceful pencils made the artwork the high style vibe of something you might find in the workroom of Yves Saint Laurent. The concept sketches are just gorgeous. It's no wonder they now fetch thousands and thousands of dollars at auction houses.
Let's take a look at some of them, courtesy of the website Wonder Woman Collectors.
Here we see Diana Prince's glamorous cape, which she wore on occasion, as in the episodes "Fausta, the Nazi Wonder Woman" and "Judgment from Outer Space."
The sketch for the standard costume look is essentially what turned up on the screen the first season. Things get more interesting in the designs which did not turn up on television. Take a look at this top, for example.
The embroidered gold eagle on the bustier wraps around the top in a ring. The sketches got even more outside of the box when it came time to put Wonder Woman in the water. Donfeld initially envisioned the Amazon in a bikini.
A costume was created, but the producers soon learned that such a get-up was impractical for underwater action. "Technical difficulties" were cited. Instead, Donfeld went back to the drawing board and whipped up Wonder Woman's iconic blue wetsuit.
Now that seems like something Wonder Woman would wear in the Bermuda Triangle, or when dealing with "The Deadly Dolphin."
In 1978, Donfeld earned an Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for a Drama or Comedy Series Emmy nomination for his work on the episode "Anschluss '77." He lost to NBC's Holocaust miniseries starring Meryl Streep.
Both on paper and onscreen, Wonder Woman looked ready for action on both fashion runways and World War II airstrips. Which was your favorite Lynda Carter costume?