Poultry in Motion
For the past 15 years, Fletcher, 50, who creates togs for commercials, has included animals among her stable of clients. In one Little Caesar's pizza campaign, she swathed orangutans in pink chiffon togas; for another, she created a canine wedding party that included a bulldog bride in a $2,000 lace-and-satin gown. The six fowl she recently outfitted in black-tie attire—including gabardine tuxedo jackets and gray suede spats—are the headliners in a Hunt-Wesson Chicken Sensations spot. Not surprisingly, that job took some pluck. "We couldn't cover their wings because they need them for balance," recalls Fletcher. "And we had to make rehearsal tuxes to wear over the weekend so they could get used to them."
Comfort is key, of course. "If animals are unhappy with their costumes, they won't move," says Fletcher, who finds that Velcro fasteners and stretchy fabrics are a help. David Farrow, director of five Ralston Purina Lucky Dog commercials for which Fletcher dressed its bulldog star, Ike, calls her work art. "Directors love Maureen," he says, "because she's always pushing the envelope."
Fletcher, who grew up in Los Angeles, learned to sew from her father, owner of an upholstery business. Taking design classes at Santa Monica College, she married classmate Terrance Fletcher in 1963 and had a son, Brent, now 29 and a stuntman. When her marriage ended in 1968, she went to work doing production and wardrobe for commercials. In 1980, Lucky Dog hired her to find a baby-doll frock and bonnet for the original Ike. She wound up custom-tailoring the outfit—and launching her career.
Now running her own company, Dufour Design, from her two-bedroom Studio City house, Fletcher often relies on her dogs Dagmar, a rottweiler, and Taurus, a mutt, as models. And one day she hopes to feature her creature clients in a calendar. "With animals," she says, "anything is possible." Well, almost anything. Says Fletcher: "I draw the line at reptiles."