NEW YORK — – If you see a lot of angels soon, don't think you died and went to heaven.
Most likely, the angelic beauties soon to be strutting down Main Street and through the malls of America will merely be imitating the hair-flipping trio of Charlie's Angels, who are hitting theaters this Friday.
Modern-day angels Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu are following in the high-heeled, low-decolletage footsteps of their '70s predecessors, wearing some superfine slinky numbers while effortlessly busting the bad guys.
"Each came out a little glittery, a little glamorous and with a 'look,'" said the film's costume designer, Joseph Aulisi.
He didn't mention sexy, but what else can you call the plunging necklines on the Angels' race-car driver outfits, the micro-miniskirts from their Swiss Miss disguises and the tight leather pants that don't rip at the seams when the Angels beat up the bad guys.
But the sexy outfits have their practical side: "The clothes are almost like dance clothes. They fit like a glove, but you can still kick," said Aulisi. "Designing the clothes was a challenge because of the huge amount of action."
The actresses also wore stiletto heels for the chase sequences.
"We went through many sets of heels — a few were broken along the way," said Aulisi, who has designed costumes for Die Hard With a Vengeance and the original Shaft films. "But when you kick your foot in the air with a spike on the end, it's a whole different impact than a flat sneaker."
Each actress wore 50 costumes. Because of the wear and tear on the clothes, as many as 10 copies were made for each design.
Liu, as the cool, sophisticated Alex, is dressed mostly in black and red leather. Barrymore's street-savvy Dylan wears touches of vintage and neo-hippie styles, including thin beaded belts and denim jackets. Diaz's slightly naive Natalie has the bright, sassy look of an All-American Girl, right down to her bedtime T-shirt outfit.
Barrymore said the formfitting race-car driver jumpsuit was her favorite.
"I loved it because gravity won't be on my side one day, and I'll be able to look back and think, 'That was a nice moment.'"
For Diaz, the belly dancer disguise was transporting.
"I loved the harem look because it was sort of like just going so far away. It was a costume based in another culture, and it was like being a completely different person than who I am."
Celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch, based in Los Angeles, said the obvious difference between the TV show and the movie is the overt seductiveness of the new Angels.
"The original show may have been sexy for the time, but it is conservative compared to what we have now," he said. "They used to only be sexy when they were in disguise; now they are sexy all the time."
Although he was a fan of the TV show, Aulisi decided not to limit the outfits to the styles of the '70s. There are obvious nods to that era, including a denim jumpsuit worn by Diaz, but movie musicals of the '50s and vintage clothes from the '20s also served as influences.
Steven Cojocaru, the West Coast style editor for People magazine, said there is already buzz about the Richard Walker-designed sunglasses with a rhinestone design for each Angel.
Henri Bendel, a specialty store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, is already selling items inspired by the movie, including denim jeans with a crystal-studded butterfly, handbags with an airbrushed "Angel" flame and a fitted T-shirt with the film's logo surrounded by crystals. Through an agreement with Sony, the clothing has an official Charlie's Angels label in addition to the manufacturer's.
"This movie absolutely will have an influence," Sid Cojocaru. "There are these approachable, well-liked girls wearing edgy, accessible clothes."
— The Associated Press contributed to this report