Welcome back to another piece on Beauty and the Beast! Last time, we talked about the 1994 Broadway musical and the 2017 Disney live-action movie adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, where we specifically focused on Belle’s gown and the Beast’s costume. But this time, we’ll be looking at something new – the costumes of Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration.
Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration is a television special directed by Hamish Hamilton that was broadcast earlier this past December on American Broadcast Company (ABC). It’s based on the original 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast film and pays homage to its historic 1992 Oscar nomination – being the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture. This transformed the course of animation forever, as it challenged previous thoughts on the medium and gave animators and artists hope of making it big in the industry.
Hamilton commemorates the film’s impact by putting together a creative and magical experience! The special takes you through the entire movie by blending parts of the animated movie together with live theatrical and musical performances, a new cast, and a fresh new take on the costumes!
The costume designer for this special is none other than the fabulous 6x Emmy-award-winning Marina Toybina! I am quite a fan of Toybina’s work as she’s been a part of World of Dance, Katy Perry’s Superbowl Halftime Show, several tours including those of Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, Billboard Music Awards, The Grammy’s, and is now behind the exuberant and artistic costumes on the Masked Singer – which we also got the chance to interview her about!
She has a way of making her costumes so elaborate and full of personality – two traits that I would use to describe what made this movie such a timeless treasure. We’ll be diving into some of the most iconic theatrical and musical performances from the special and exploring Toybina’s ability to combine traditional elements of the costumes with her own modern-day spin to help honor the tale as old as time.
All photos and videos within this article are courtesy of ABC and Marina Toybina.
After a brief introduction by the talented actress Rita Moreno, we are taken to Disney Studio’s Backlot where we’re introduced to Belle (played by H.E.R. aka Gabriella Wilson)! She is performing the opening song “Belle” and wearing her classic blue pinafore covered by a white apron with a white, puffy sleeve blouse underneath.
However, there’s a little twist. Toybina has added a modern-day touch, giving Belle a worn-out brown belt and combat boots of the same color. She has also made sure to incorporate culture and history into this look. Toybina mentioned that H.E.R. wanted to do something significant with her culture, resulting in red script that’s been hand-painted onto her apron. The red script ties in her Filipino heritage as it spells out “Bel” in Baybayin, a sacred ancient script native to the Philippines. Due to colonization, the use of the writing system began to disappear immensely, but has luckily seen a revival, especially on social media.
Toybina also made sure to accurately reflect the time period that the story takes place, mid-1700s France, by using denim, which originates from the country. The denim used features a circle pattern, adding more character to the dress.
The townsfolk are also in period clothing, donning waistcoats, corsets, mantuas, victorian bonnets, breeches, vests, jabots, and tricorns that feature many earthly and natural tones, including deep reds, browns, and greens as well as floral prints.
One of my favorite looks in this number were the children’s when Belle is showing them a book. They have on sheep ear berets (I will be buying one) and matching short wool capes. This scene actually features a notable figure in the Beauty and the Beast world – Alan Menken – who, ironically, portrays a piano player while also having composed several songs for this movie along with many others including The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. He’s dressed in period clothing along with Paige O’Hara, who plays a librarian and was the original voice of Belle along with Richard White who plays a Baker and originally voiced the Beast.
It’s also neat to note that the props and background were actual sketches from the Beauty and the Beast animators – representing how the movie first started. Seeing the costumes against the background really helped the performers stand out and pop!
Next up, we meet Belle’s father, Maurice (played by Jon Jon Briones). He is on his way to the fair to compete in an invention contest when he accidentally takes a wrong turn. His horse gets spooked and takes off without him, leaving him stranded in the woods. He’s then met with an unfortunate circumstance – a pack of hungry wolves. Belle meets the same fate later on in the movie, also encountering the frightening pack.
I thought the wolves’ costumes were so creative! They consisted of a geometric wolf mask with sharp, jagged-looking edges, giving it an incredibly intimidating look. The mask also has sharp teeth coming down from the front and red, glowing eyes that make the scene even more intense due to the dim lighting. The costumes also included dark, furry bodysuits that allowed for much movement, furry claw gloves, and a thick, spiky tail that matched the look of the mask.
From the waist up, Maurice’s costume seemed to take inspiration from the movie, consisting of a long sleeve, green popover shirt, dark green vest, and cloak. Waist down, the belt had been removed, though, and he’s been given tan breeches, white stockings, and black shoes with buckles.
Belle has just been visited by Gaston who is trying to persuade her to marry him, but she’s entirely repulsed by the idea. She breaks off into “Belle (Reprise)” and takes off her apron, revealing a beautiful, boned stomacher that is outlined in yellow and perfectly blends into her dress. She then runs over to a field against a sunset background, where she wanders around until she’s met with a group of dancing Belles – one that’s her younger self (played by Elle Naomi). Their costumes all consist of the same classic Belle pinafore and blouse, except none of the pieces are identical, with each Belle having their own one-of-a-kind design. I absolutely love this idea!
In an interview with Fashionista, Toybina mentions that she didn’t add structure to Belle’s dress that’s normally associated with the 18th century thus giving her movement as well as creating a more flowy effect. This decision, along with the addition of the other Belles, further emphasizes her individuality as Toybina also says that Belle is a “free spirit and somebody that’s unique and stands out from the village.”
Upset that Belle turned him down, Gaston goes on a rant about how wonderful he is, leading us into the next musical number, “Gaston.” He is dressed in classic 18th century wear, sporting an eye-catching, bright red vest with buttons that are kept snug with a distressed brown belt. He also has on tan pants, a white open collar shirt and black boots.
His partner in crime, Le Fou, has a vest too, but his is blue with a damask print, and gold buttons to fasten it. He also has a long sleeve puffer blouse with lace cuffs and a big bow on the front, bronze metallic baggy pants, and black and brown boots.
Lastly, after appearing in “Belle” along with Gaston and Le Fou, the Bimbettes make another appearance, wearing gowns with the three original Bimbette colors – green, amber, and red – except this time, amber was swapped out for light pink. Each woman’s dress is made in a similar fashion where they have lace cuffs and a corset bodice lined with lace, but they still each have their own distinct look.
Be Our Guest
After the Beast demands that Belle have dinner with him, his servants try to lighten up the mood by making Belle feel at home and welcome; thus “Be Our Guest” is performed. Here we get a closer look at Lumiere (played by Martin Short), Cogsworth (played by David Alan Grier), Mrs. Potts (played by Shania Twain), and Chip (played by Leo Abelo Perry). This scene was mesmerizing! In reference to the entire show, Toybina looks back on the costuming process with ABC, saying “I think we’ve designed over 250 costumes. Altogether 3000 pieces,” and after seeing this performance I can completely understand why. The costumes were SO alive, intricate, and colorful.
We’re first met with Lumiere, whose costume is extremely gold and fun – just like him! Toybina’s goal for this costume was to make it appear as though it had a melted wax effect. Her draping technique helped make that a success as it can be seen throughout his costume – especially on his sleeves and pants. Lumiere’s collar and embroidered lapels were dramatic, emphasizing his flamboyant personality and his costume also features velvets and embroidered fabrics. And a fun little note: Lumiere’s costume has feathers hidden all throughout the fabric that honors his love of Featherette – the perfect tribute to the movie.
The scene then cuts to Belle at the dinner table sitting in a red and pink, lively velvet chair. There are dishes and knight guards standing and dancing around the table and a gold candlestick (played by Nicholas Stewart) that pops out from under the table as a centerpiece.
Next up we see Cogsworth whose costume came together with a lot of 3D printing and upholstery. The use of upholstery is so meaningful because it relates back to the story of how the Beast’s servants, including Cogsworth, were turned into pieces of furniture after the curse. Cogsworth’s headpiece relates back to the story as well, since it resembles the top of the pendulum clock that he was in the movie. Since this is a huge part of Cogsworth’s character, a clock was added on the front of his jacket as well as gears that were placed all around the sleeves. I also thought his pants were unique. The contrast between the solid and shiny teal stripes as well as the quirky, diamond-like shape of the pants added flair.
At the end of the song there’s a HUGE dance number featuring all the servants. Mrs. Potts comes out wearing a mermaid style dress with the bottom of the dress made royal purple and lined in gold and the top of the dress consisting of a beautiful white corset with gold embellishments. Her headpiece resembles a teapot lid with a well-constructed teapot around her waist. This dress later transforms and can be seen in Shania Twain’s tribute of “Beauty and the Beast” to Angela Lansbury.
Chip pops up from among the other teacups with a long sleeve ruffled shirt, white stockings, and purple shoes. Similar to Mrs. Potts, he has a teacup around his waist which is carefully designed to give it a chipped effect. The teacup is held up by two baroque style golden straps.
Surrounding them are napkins, candlesticks, plates, an armoire, tea kettles, salt and pepper shakers, and feather dusters. I am truly amazed by this scene as well as the time and effort that went into it. What an incredible performance!
As the time goes on, Belle and the Beast start to get closer and develop feelings for one another. So, on one chilly day, they both head outside to the terrace to spend some time with each other, accompanied by adorable little birds. I personally love this scene because of the contrast between the Beast and Belle’s costumes.
Belle is wearing a bright pink gown with a lace-up corset bodice. The pink that’s used on the cape perfectly accents the gown which has layers upon layers of dupioni and taffeta, giving it a more animated and vibrant look. Toybina makes sure to pay tribute to the movie, adding faux-fur on the capelet which alludes to Belle’s original pink dress.
Here we also get to fully see the Beasts’ costume. This piece is incredible! It reminded me so much of Toybina’s work on The Masked Singer because of its functionality and intricacy. According to Popsugar, it’s more than 10 feet tall and weighs several pounds. Along with the Beast’s face, the entire suit appears to have a dark, metallic look to it that blends in well with the scene, and the fur is constructed in a way that adds texture.
What’s pretty cool is that the costume is fully operable, as Groban can walk and move around freely while wearing it. His feet are tucked and secured inside the Beasts’, allowing for stability, and he can control the arms by moving the handles that are built on the inside of the Beasts’ arms. He can also see since the front part of the costume is open, excluding the rib-like elements that protrude from each side.
While inside the suit, Groban wears a dark colored ensemble, including an embroidered coat that has pops of gold. This costume can be fully seen in his musical performance of “Evermore.” I love how muted this costume is, as it contrasts his final look, making it even more eye-catching.
And we can’t forget about the birds! They’re made up of colorful, ombré bird suits that also mix in well with the setting. Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Chip stand on the side, watching as the magic unfolds. With the use of different tones, hues, and textures, everything about this scene feels like a beautiful painting.
Beauty and the Beast
In the finale, H.E.R. and Josh Groban perform their rendition of “Beauty and the Beast”. They both appear on the stairs to reveal Belle’s iconic ball gown and the Beasts’ blue suit.
As stated by Variety, Toybina decided to go in a new direction with the dress, after toying with the idea of replicating it. Just as the dress skirt had many layers (including fabrics such as satin, chiffon, and organza), there were also many layers when it came to making it. One layer was the color. Belle’s dress has been debated for many years, with people claiming it to be either yellow or gold, so coming up with the correct color definitely took some time. After research and careful consideration, Toybina concluded that the dress was gold, but she decided to add elements of both while also pairing it with matching sheer gloves.
Another layer was inspiration! Joan of Arc, known as the defender and heroine of France, was the source of her vision. The bodice resembles armor, which is very fitting since Belle served as her father’s protector, giving her this very powerful and confident look. She was also inspired by the Enchanted Rose. Toybina wanted the dress to look like rose petals, so each skirt layer fell in a spiral pattern around the dress.
And lastly, she added a layer of individuality. As mentioned earlier, Toybina wanted to do something different with the dress and this choice is what completely sold it for me…she “H.E.R.ified” it! During the performance, H.E.R. exited the stage in her gown and when she came back, the gloves were gone and the skirt had been replaced, transitioning the gown into an entire jumpsuit! She is known for incorporating jumpsuits into her wardrobe, so it was great to see her own style mixed in. She also returned with her signature round sunglasses and a stained-glass Fender Stratocaster guitar modeled after the Enchanted Rose, in which she used to play a rock version of the song. If this doesn’t represent her, I don’t know what does!
The Beast’s suit was also beautifully done, with accents of gold and special detailing all over, as well as a striking gold sash extending right across the coat. Towards the end of the song, both Belle and the Beast are met with the rest of characters on stage, where each character has on a brand-new costume, signifying that the curse has been broken.
Thank you to Marina Toybina and the entire costume crew along with everyone who came together to make this special! It was extremely well done and put together. Toybina’s unique approach to the costumes helped create an entirely new class of Beauty and the Beast costumes that will be cherished for many years to come. If you missed this special event or just want to relive the moment again, Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration is now streaming on Disney Plus. I highly recommend checking it out and giving the team their well-deserved recognition!