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'Confessions' no moral


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POSTED: Thursday, February 05, 2009

“;Confessions of a Shopaholic,”; the Touchstone Pictures film set to debut Feb. 13, seems tailor-made for the times.

Shopaholic Rebecca Bloomfield, played by Isla Fisher, has never encountered a designer bag, shoe or scarf she couldn't buy with her too-generous line of credit. But as her bills add up, she finds herself trying the usual circular tactics of paying off one credit card with another, and putting cards in deep freeze.

The film is based on the 2001 book (originally “;The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic,”; 2000) by Sophie Kinsella, written at another time the economy was in down mode. But when I suggest the story might be a cautionary tale directed at anyone who equates shopping with life, I hear a deep sigh on the other end of the phone, from the film's costume designer Patricia Field.

It's about 8 p.m. in L.A., where she's calling from, and she's spent the entire day on the phone, speaking to reporters from across the country, with 20 minutes allotted to each. So, she's heard the question over and over and wonders, why so serious?

“;I don't want this to turn into a moral-of-the-story kind of film,”; she said. “;I do entertainment. I don't do documentaries. I just want to make people feel good. This is escapism and fun. If I start thinking of reality, then I'm finished.”;

The stylist, best known to mainstream audiences as the costumer for the TV and film versions of “;Sex and the City,”; “;The Devil Wears Prada”; and now “;Ugly Betty,”; paints a world of hot pinks, forest greens and sunny yellows for the title character.

“;It's colorful, young clothing that's fun and frantic. I wasn't looking at labels, but individual pieces. Personally, I tend to enjoy a mix of things. There's good in bargain brands, everything. You just have to be able to pick it out. And just because something costs a lot of money doesn't mean it's fabulous.

“;The main thing is that the clothes fit the vision and variety that would be in the wardrobe of a shopaholic.”;

It seems that it would be easy for a stylist to adopt the mindset of a shopaholic, but for Field, that meant stepping into someone else's shoes.

“;I'm a professional shopper,”; she said. “;I'm not a shopaholic. Shopping is a creative pursuit that I enjoy, but I channeled it into a profession. I made it work for me.”;

Though she's known for her exuberant and colorful work and trendy boutique, she's a no-nonsense kind of woman, and has been that way since growing up in retail, helping out in her mom's business before she was in her teens.

“;I learned how to make a dollar when I was young, so I always knew how to manage money. I never spend money I don't have.”;

As a result, she says she doesn't buy a lot of clothing for herself.

“;What I do have is well-chosen and classic, and I tend to wear the same pieces over and over.”;

No doubt for someone as busy as Field, having a uniform makes it easy to dress and get out of the house in a rush, and that's where she puts her stylist's cred to work for herself by adding drama and changing up her basic pieces with accessories.

That would be her advice to shopaholics who feel the need to rein in their spending: “;Stop buying clothes and buy accessories. Clothes are the same anyway. A black T-shirt is a black T-shirt,”; she said.

She approaches true shopaholics with a live-and-let-live attitude. “;If that's what you like and you can handle the consequences, then go, enjoy yourself,”; she said. “;But if it spirals out of control, then you have to make adjustments.”;