We tailored a custom suit for Mini-Me.
Yes, that Mini Me. Mr. Verne Troyer himself.
Utah computer hardware giant Fusion IO hired Verne to help them announce their new product at a major tech convention, and they wanted him costumed thusly.
However, Mr.Troyer did not own a Mini Me costume. The Austin Powers films by this time were already over 11 years old and any costume pieces that might have been saved from those movies were long gone, unavailable for rental.
So Fusion hired us to create one. A custom jacket and trousers. I was super excited, expecting to have Mr. Troyer in the shop with us to hang out, sign some headshots and take a bunch of fun selfies, etc. But that never happened.
The only thing the producer gave me was a sheet of measurements. They were fairly complete but also absolutely unbelievable. I couldn’t find out who had taken them or when they were taken. There was no shop info or tailor’s phone number in L.A. to call to confirm anything.
Nervewrackingly, I made the outfit, duplicating the iconic Mini-Me costume from the films, scratching my head the whole time, saying, “this can’t be right, this can’t be right.” But it was.
The producers picked it up, paid their balance, and went on their way. I checked in with them about a week later and they told me the suit looked fantastic, that Mr. Troyer loved it, and that he wanted one of his own to wear in case he was asked to appear again as the Mini-Me character.
“Great,” I said, could you put me in touch with his management?” And they said they would, and then things got busy and well, yeah it never happened.
I wondered why they didn’t just give Mr. Troyer the costume as a thank-you takeaway. Like, who else would it have possibly fit? The measurements corresponded to a few standard toddler sizes but there would definitely have been some issues. I’ve always wondered if someone at Fusion took the costume home and dressed up their kid as Mini Me for Halloween! I guess I’ll just never know.
Fusion IO’s YouTube video was shot live. It’s a film inside a film. The video’s aspect ration is vertical and doesn’t showcase the great technical details and fit of the costume. We never did get any still photos of Mr. Troyer wearing it. But we are nonetheless very proud of this project.
Through custom tailoring and styling, my staff and I have dressed many celebrities and models. We’re usually quiet about these events, honoring the trade we are in and its long tradition of discretion. I don’t think I’ve publicly talked about the story of Mr. Troyer before. Dredging up files from old hard drives results in this sort of reflection, as well as other thoughts.
And these involve telling you a sort of cautionary tale about how you should be careful what you ask for.
Around 2004, I was moving our original Pierpont Avenue studio from its loft space to downstairs into a newly available storefront. It was pretty exciting. On impulse one day at a second-hand store, I bought a babydoll with a squeeze feature in his tummy. He’d say one of several pre-recorded things. “I love you.” “Nighty-night.” Or, “hehehehehe.” It was, in truth, a little creepy and visitors sometimes freaked when they saw or heard him. He hung on a peg in fairly plain view, and the key to our basement was attached around his little neck.
My idea was that we needed an official key that everyone could always identify, find quickly, and that wouldn’t get accidentally locked downstairs or get lost. This little doll was like our hall pass. “Grab Verne and follow me,” I’d shout sometimes, “we have to go find those doublets or that file or whatever in the basement.”
We’ve since moved from our Pierpont Avenue shop. At our new location, our shop’s basement doesn’t have a lock at the top of its stairs. But I still have Verne. He’s a keepsake. He’s worn a number of different costumes over the years, including a tuxedo vest first sported by a bottle of fancy whisky, given to us by a client.
Our Verne is silent now, his squeeze-y talking device batteries long depleted, the whole apparatus dissected from the zippered opening on his back long ago. A few years back, Sora, one of our most awesome interns, lovingly sharpied in his third eye. Our old basement key is still attached around his neck. He still hangs on a peg. This time in my office. I’ve reflected often over the years about the vagaries of sympathetic magic, but have never experienced a better example of its wily nature.