It's a costume designer's 300-thread-count dream: creating the champagne-and-caviar wardrobe for ''De-Lovely,'' MGM's sprawling biopic about the legendarily dapper composer Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) and his fabulously fashionable wife, Linda Lee (Ashley Judd). ''It was just an absolute delicious challenge,'' says Oscar-winning costume designer Janty Yates (''Gladiator''), sounding a tad Porter-like herself.
Yates dressed the comely cast -- which includes singers Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, and Robbie Williams, who cameo in the film -- in sumptuous period duds that scream night-and-day glamour from the 1920s up to the 1960s. ''[The Porters'] life was one mad round of opening nights and parties and travel,'' says Yates. Which meant whipping up things like stunning bias-cut gowns for her and impeccably fitted suits for him, with designer Giorgio Armani's vintage archive at her disposal. ''I tried to fuse the spirit of elegance with modern-day touches,'' says Armani, who, at Judd's suggestion, beaded the film's wedding gown. Thanks to such custom attention, Judd (''a complete clotheshorse,'' according to Yates) kept several garments for herself after the film wrapped. Who could blame her?