Spencer – The Art of Costume Blogcast

Spencer – S2 Episode 25

Today is the day! The Art of Costume Blogcast is back with the first episode of season two! In this week’s episode, our co-hosts Elizabeth and Spencer reunite and talk about their holiday breaks! Then, it’s time for more brilliant costuming. We are watching the new Princess Diana film, Spencer 👑 Listen along as our co-hosts discuss Kristen Stewart’s wardrobe, pearls, a dress that looks like soup, the mischievous Timothy Spall, and Academy-Award Winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran’s many collaborations with Chanel.⁠s. here

The Art of Costume Blogcast

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Show Notes: Spencer

Summary: In December 1991, the British royal spent the Christmas holiday at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Diana, Princess of Wales, is at the lowest point of her troublesome relationship with her no-good husband, Prince Charles, who is openly cheating on her with Camilla Parker Bowles. This historical fiction follows Diana as she tries to survive perhaps the most painful, awkward family gathering ever to happen.

Behind the Wardrobe:

Director: Pablo Larraín

Costume Designer: Jacqueline Durran

Notable Work: 2005 Pride & Prejudice(ON), Atonement(ON), The Soloist, Nanny McPhee Returns, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Anna Karenina(OW), Mr. Turner(ON), (2015) Macbeth, Black Mirror (Nosedive 2016), 2017 Beauty and the Beast(ON), Darkest(ON) Hour, 1917, 2019 Little Women(OW)

Upcoming Work: 2022 Batman

“There is just a picture that tells you exactly what she wore on each day,” Durran tells Refinery29. “It’s quite overwhelming that there is that much information about her.”

Jacqueline Durran, Refinery 29

“I’d never really done a film that was set in the ‘80s before,” says Durran. “I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed looking at something I could kind of remember but I had never really been interested in.” – Jacqueline Durran, Nylon

“The brief Pablo gave me at the beginning was, we weren’t working in a specific date,” – “Our period was roughly [from] 1988 to 1992. So we created a wardrobe [without] replicating anything. Because her costumes are [extensively] photographed, somebody somewhere would pinpoint the date quite easily if [we] were to replicate. And whether that [matches] the date in the movie would [have become] a thing.” – Jacqueline Durran, Indie Wire

“I went through hundreds, possibly thousands, of images of her and put them into groups, like colors, geometric prints, plaids, and got an idea of the kind of things she did repeatedly in the time period. When I first met Pablo I had these big boards, like montage boards, to show him all these things, offering up things he could respond to and tell me that he liked. I had this fantasy that somewhere there must be a book, a Royal ledger, that wrote down every single outfit she wore and the designer, and the combination she put together. I thought it must exist somewhere, but obviously I couldn’t ask the palace for that kind of access.” – Jacqueline Durran, Nylon

Kristen Stewart by Suzie Riemer

“Every step of the way, it was a total collaboration,” shared Stewart via email. “We were all in this together: me, Pablo, Jacqueline, and Chanel. It was so intimate.” 

Kristen Stewart, Vouge

“I was honored to work with a fantastic character actress,” said Durran.”I had limited access to Kristen, so we had an extremely long [first] fitting. I put together provisional costumes for each scene [that] we had to examine and work out. It was really focused work.” – Jacqueline Durran, Indie Wire

“We pretty much prepped a costume for each of the scenes of the film and had a long nine-hour fitting with Kristen. We put the costumes in order and we more or less stayed on track. We had the bare bones done, and we didn’t deviate too much.” – Jacqueline Durran, Variety

Spencer was a small film, but we wanted to establish a world that in many ways was the dream world of a princess. The luxury that Chanel represents was very much part of the story we were telling—we wanted the audience to understand the privilege of the world that Princess Diana was part of, and the Chanel brand was a great way of communicating that.” – Jacqueline Durran, Tatler

Kristen Stewart by Suzie Riemer

 “In terms of style and glamour, the collaboration gave the movie something we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she says. “The Chanel pieces added to that aura Diana had as a princess, so it was an incredible match in that sense.”

Jacqueline Durran, Vouge

“She wore a lot of those long, slender column dresses in our period, and so I riffed on the idea of a couple of them and combined them together,” Durran explained. “The color green looks like it was planned, because it was the same color as the soup, but maybe when the production designer saw the dress, he made the soup [the same color].” – Jacqueline Durran, Vulture 

“Most of the clothes you see Diana in are formal clothes, the ones that are set by the family and her dresser, more presentational clothes,” Durran explains. “She has far less chance to be the more relaxed version of Diana that we are also very familiar with. There’s a kind of dual nature to her costumes, in the sense that there are the ones that she’s chosen as her own wardrobe and the ones there to represent her as Princess of Wales.” – Jacqueline Durran, Nylon 

“We asked Chanel for replicas of any clothes Diana had worn from them, and in the early period it wasn’t many, but there was a coat she wore to visit the president of France in 1988,” Durran said. Stewart tried on the coat, but it was too big to be worn on its own; Durran decided to use it as an overcoat for the church scene instead. Diana did wear a red coat to church in Sandringham in 1993 with a black hat and veil, but the two coats differ. “We mixed the two things up,” Durran said. “It was all about taking pieces that said ‘Diana’ and mixing them up for the purposes of our movie.” – Jacqueline Durran, Vulture

“ I looked back through pictures of Diana for images of her wearing Chanel. Most that I found were later than 1992, but there was one significant Chanel outfit that she wore when visiting Paris in 1988 – The blue cardigan/jacket fit very well with the style that she was wearing in our period, so I felt that it would fit in seamlessly. The Chanel costume jewellery we used was also perfect for our date, and for Diana’s style.” – Jacqueline Durran, Tatler

Spencer sets itself well within Diana’s double-breasted era, and this blue top is a Chanel piece she wore while visiting Great Ormond Street in 1992. “I said to Chanel, ‘Do you have that?’ and they made it for us,” Durran said. “It’s something that she actually wore, but in the context we’ve put it, but we’re still there in her world.” – Jacqueline Durran, Vulture

Kristen Stewart as Diana, Neon(Left) Anne Fiona in Look 82 for the Chanel Spring-Summer 1988 Haute Couture Show (Right)

“I don’t know that Diana ever wore a Chanel evening dress in our period,” Durran said. “[But] I [wanted] to see what they had from that period that could be appropriate for her style. They sent over things from the archive and we liked the cream dress with the gold embroidery and the full skirt at the hem best — that’s the one in the poster — and they replicated that for us.”  – Jacqueline Durran, Indie Wire

“The dress was an original dress designed by Karl in the 1980s and was too precious to be worn repeatedly, for all the days needed for shooting including exterior night shoots—there was too great a danger of damage.”- Jacqueline Durran, Tatler

“Look n ° 82 from the spring-summer 1988 haute couture show, the dress was entirely recreated in the Chanel workshops for the film. The embroidery is done by Lesage.” – Vouge Italy

“When it comes to pleating, the dress owes this wonderful volume to the house of Lognon , one of Chanel’s Métiers d’art since 2013. These technical gestures combined with the miraculous hands of the five seamstresses made it possible to achieve this masterpiece . In total, there are no less than 1034 hours of work, including 700 only for embroidery.” – Vouge Italy

“The pearls are from a jewelry house called Mouawad, which supplied all the film’s fine jewels (Chanel provided the costume jewelry). “They’re real,” Durran said, “and I think the slightly large size works well in telling that story.” – Jacqueline Durran, Vulture 

“I hadn’t originally imagined it to be a waxed coat, but that was what worked best for the art department, and Pablo wanted the color. I wanted it to be believably a British aristocrat’s coat from the past. I took onboard what everyone said about how a wool coat wouldn’t have lasted for that amount of time, so I went back to a Barbour-style coat. It was good that it wasn’t a green coat, because you never would have been able to see it as different from all the other coats that were being worn in the movie.”  – Jacqueline Durran, Vulture 

“That was based roughly on something Diana wore. She went to review the Navy, I think, in Portsmouth. Pablo and Kristen loved the idea of her wearing a pirate hat, so we made the pirate hat and we made it in yellow and it was a sort of floating costume because we weren’t really sure where it was going to fit, but it had to go in somewhere. And then I think it found its place. [Laughs]” – Jacqueline Durran, Entertainment Weekly 

“I [bought] an ‘80s wedding dress and adapted it to have what I think as the most important details of [Diana’s] wedding dress: the sleeves, the neckline,” she said. “Because we’re not ‘The Crown,’ it’s really about practical filmmaking as much as keeping with the whole ethos of the design. I just made the clothes in the way that I felt we were talking about the character. And I let them run their course.” – Jacqueline Durran, Indie Wire

“The wedding gown! It didn’t feature in the main movie, it’s [only] in the montage. And we just didn’t have the money to make a Diana wedding gown for something that wasn’t even part of the main story. So we just adapted a wedding dress to be an approximation of it. I’m under no illusion that there were differences between Diana’s dress and the dress that we made. But it was a kind of the spirit of the dress, rather than an exact replica. If you are not making The Crown, and if you are making artistic decisions on what you can and can’t achieve, I think you just have to do those things sometimes.” – Jacqueline Durran, Entertainment Weekly

“She’s shaking hands with some nurses wearing exactly the same jacket,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that I found it. I was beside myself, and Kristen loved it, and we just thought, ‘That can be the jacket for the beach.’” – Jacqueline Durran, Vulture

Serendipitous finds also came into play, such as the preppy, varsity-style bomber jacket Durran supplied from a vintage store. “I was really pleased to find it, as I also found a picture of Princess Diana wearing the exact same jacket. Kristen loved it. Part of the idea of our design was to create this aura of her: Occasionally go in really accurately, but then pull out and be less accurate. So there was a mixture, which makes the whole thing a bit more uncertain. You can gain a lot by having a contrast [in] the way things might rub [against] each other.”– Jacqueline Durran, Indie Wire

Want to know more? Check out our sources.

Tangcay, Jazz. “How Costumes Captured Princess Diana’s Aura for Kristen Stewart in ‘Spencer’.” Variety, Variety, 8 Nov. 2021, https://variety.com/2021/artisans/awards/kristen-stewart-spencer-costumes-jacqueline-durran-1235105881/.

Solá-Santiago, Frances. “Spencer Costumes Include Reinterpretations of Princess Diana’s Best Looks – & Vintage Chanel.” Spencer Costumes Include Diana’s Best Looks, 4 Nov. 2021, https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2021/11/10737473/spencer-movie-costumes-princess-diana?epik=dj0yJnU9QlNvM3JVN3VOU0pMVmliNFdYSkRnSUo4NkJIZDNpNmomcD0wJm49OWZKS0pYUFRnMmxoMkQ5b19VVF9EQSZ0PUFBQUFBR0hpUXBZ.

Okwodu, Janelle. “Kristen Stewart on How Her Chanel Costumes in ‘Spencer’ Tell Their Own Story.” Vogue, 5 Nov. 2021, https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/spencer-chanel-costumes-kristen-stewart-jacqueline-durran-interview?epik=dj0yJnU9ZmdlMVF5RnVRZElDSzhLYnVwbmExRTNCN0hldjVPdEUmcD0wJm49RUY4VkFQcjZsZTVtZHdFWXZaU2laZyZ0PUFBQUFBR0hpUWhF.

McHenry, Jackson. “How Jacqueline Durran’s Costumes for Spencer Evoke the ‘Aura’ of Princess Diana.” Vulture, 5 Nov. 2021, https://www.vulture.com/2021/11/how-spencers-costumes-evoke-the-aura-of-princess-diana.html.

Mabille, Marthe. “Tous Les Secrets De La Robe Chanel Haute Couture Portée Par Kristen Stewart Sur L’affiche De ‘Spencer.’” Vogue France, Vogue France, 31 Aug. 2021, https://www.vogue.fr/mode/article/chanel-princesse-diana-haute-couture-biopic-spencer.

Laffly, Tomris. “’Spencer’ Costume Design: Capturing Princess Diana’s Dizzying Eclectic Range.” IndieWire, IndieWire, 30 Nov. 2021, https://www.indiewire.com/2021/11/spencer-costume-design-dressing-kristen-stewart-as-princess-diana-1234682079/.

Hall, Amalissa. “In Conversation with: ‘Spencer’ Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran.” Tatler Asia, https://www.tatlerasia.com/style/fashion/in-conversation-with-costume-designer-jacqueline-durran.

Greenblatt , Leah. “’Spencer’ Costume Designer on How She Turned Kristen Stewart into Princess Diana.” EW.com, 7 Oct. 2021, https://ew.com/movies/spencer-princess-diana-kristen-stewart-costume-designer-interview/.

Delap, Leanne. “Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran on Recreating Princess Diana’s Iconic Wardrobe in ‘Spencer’.” Thestar.com, 5 Nov. 2021, https://www.thestar.com/life/fashion_style/2021/11/05/costume-designer-jacqueline-durran-on-recreating-princess-dianas-iconic-wardrobe-in-spencer.html.

Betancourt, Bianca. “How ‘Spencer’s’ Costume Designer Nails the Style of One of Fashion’s Most Beloved Icons.” Harper’s BAZAAR, Harper’s BAZAAR, 2 Nov. 2021, https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/a38092483/jacqueline-durran-spencer-costumes-interview/?epik=dj0yJnU9SDhrRjB1UHdobk1VZllJN3VrRGpXR1dGQWpOeWVlblomcD0wJm49RXgtLWpVU09ncVpGSHBKdmVMM20xZyZ0PUFBQUFBR0hpUWc4.

Bender, Abbey. “How ‘Spencer”s Costume Designer Captured Princess Diana’s Style.” Nylon, Nylon, 3 Nov. 2021, https://www.nylon.com/fashion/spencer-costume-designer-princess-diana-kristen-stewart.

Heroes & Villains: The Art Of The Disney Costume

 Costumes in the Heroes Section of the MoPOP’s newest exhibition, Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume

I am beyond excited to share with you all an exciting new exhibition of fabulous costuming to visit this summer! Previously, only Disney’s D23 Expo attendees were given a chance to see the Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibition. Now, you too have an opportunity to immerse yourself in this brilliant collection of more than 70 original pieces spanning more than 6,000 square feet of museum space!

In Seattle, Washington, The Museum of Pop Culture, in collaboration with the Walt Disney Archives, is currently hosting the new exhibition, Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume, open now to the public until April 17, 2022. 

I was granted the opportunity to visit the exhibition this month, and I was absolutely thrilled. The exhibition walks you through a magical world of costumes, highlighting some costumes seen on some of our most favorite heroes, and villains too! Some pieces you will see are fresher in memory,  such as pieces from 2019’s Dumbo, designed by Colleen Atwood. Other costumes are a brilliant blast from the past, such as the oldest costume on display, Mary Poppins’ traveling dress designed by Bill Thomas and worn by Julie Andrews in the 1964 film. Stepping up to each platform was a real thrill as there was no telling which costume you would encounter next.

Costumes worn by (left to right) Emily Blunt and Julie Andrews from Mary Poppins Returns (2018) and Mary Poppins (1964)

“Costuming is an essential element of storytelling, and Heroes & Villains exemplifies the richness of character we hope our films portray. It has been thrilling to collaborate with MoPOP’s curators to bring a selection of the stunning pieces we have at the Walt Disney Archives to Seattle.”

Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives.

Some of the first costumes you meet upon entry that instantly took my breath away belonged to Brandy and Whitney Houston. That’s right, we are talking about costumes from the film Cinderella, with costumes designed by Ellen Mirojnick. I mean, what a moment! We all know and love the costumes, but there is something magical about seeing Whitney Houston’s Fairy Godmother dress in person!

As I made my way through the exhibit, I was stunned to come face to face with The Sanderson Sisters. Well, not flesh and blood, but their costumes were there for all to see! The three witches’ dresses from Hocus Pocus (1993) worn by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy — all designed by Mary Vogt — plus the vacuum! This, to me, is worth the price of admission alone!

Costumes worn by (left, right, middle) Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Bette Midler from Hocus Pocus (1993), Costumes designed by Mary Vogt Photo Credit: MoPOP/ © Disney

I was extremely pleased to come into contact with one of my all-time favorite costumes—the legendary Queen Narissa dress from Enchanted worn by Susan Sarandon, designed by my friend, Mona May. Honestly, I felt a bit emotional once I realized this dress was here. Somebody, please pinch me! There is SO much detail in this piece; I am not sure I can explain the beauty – you must see it for yourself. The colors and dragon scale textures are a sight to behold.

Look, I don’t want to give away all the surprises, but as a community, we have been talking a lot about the brilliant costumes of 2021’s Cruella, designed by Jenny Beavan. So I was blown away when I realized that costumes worn by THE Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians were there! If you are sharing in the Cruella de Vil love right now, then you are going to be excited to see multiple costumes of past Cruellas.

Aside from everything I shared with you, expect to see work from 19 different designers, 11 of whom are Oscar® winners and nominees: Colleen Atwood, Jenny Beavan, Jacqueline Durran, Anthony Powell, Sandy Powell, Bill Thomas, Paco Delgado, Gary Jones, Jeffrey Kurland, Judianna Makovsky, and Anna Sheppard.

As much as I would love to talk about every single costume (you know I would) with you all, part of the magic of this exhibit is rediscovering some of your favorite Disney costumes you have come to love over the years. Every color, textile, and sketch filled me with such joy and loving memories that only can be tapped by the power of Disney. So please, lovers of costume and Disney, take me up on this advice and run, don’t walk to the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington, to see Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibition.

Click here to purchase tickets to MoPOP and the Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney exhibition

Museum of Pop Culture
325 5th Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

Open through April 17, 2022

MoPOP Regular Summer Hours (beginning May 27): Every Day 10:00am-6:00pm

Special exhibition fee of $6 + general museum admission
MoPOP Members: this special exhibition is included with membership with no additional fees (more at: www.MoPOP.org/membership)

The Beauty And The Beast Of Costume Design

Photo 1: Disney’s 1991 animated version of Beauty and the Beast. Photo 2: Susan Egan as Belle (L) and Terrence Mann as Beast (R) in 1994 Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. Photo 3: Dan Stevens as Beast (left) and Emma Watson as Belle (right) in Disney’s 2017 Beauty and the Beast. Photo courtesy of Disney

Valentine’s Day flew by so fast this year but since every day is a celebration of love, let’s celebrate again by talking about one of the most heartwarming, romantic, and beautiful tales as old as time — Beauty and the Beast.

If you are not too familiar with this classic story, it follows a young French woman by the name of Belle (meaning ‘Beautiful’ in French) and a young Prince named Adam. As punishment due to Prince Adam’s selfish and superficial acts, he is turned into a beast. The Beast lives alone in a castle in the woods along with his servants but in order to be free of that curse, he must find someone to truly love him by his 21st birthday — if not he and his servants will live enchanted forever. Ironically Belle finds her way to the castle, thanks to her father, and the rest is history (well THEIRstory).

For more insight, Beauty and the Beast was originally a fairy tale written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve. An interesting fact, Villenueve was inspired by a man named Petrus Gonsalvus, who happened to have Hypertrochosis, a condition that results in excessive hair growth. The inspiration for Belle was named Catherine, who was a daughter to one of the court servants where Gonsalvus was taken in. French fairy tale writer Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont created her own version of the work which became the most well-known version to this day. Her version has inspired many different adaptations of the story, including the ones we will be talking about in this piece: The 1994 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and the 2017 Disney live-action movie adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

American costume designer Ann Hould-Ward pictured at Broadway show ‘A Catered Affair’ meet and greet

There are many characters and elements to the story but if there’s one thing that people will remember, it’s Belle’s elegant ball gown and Prince Adam’s bold suit. But who is behind these creations and how did they come to be? Let’s first meet Ann Hould-Ward.

Ward is an established American costume designer who has worked with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the American Ballet Theatre. She has also designed for many shows including Into the Woods, The Color Purple, and The Nutcracker. The multi-award-winning Montana native has a lot of experience in the fashion industry but she actually got her start, designing clothes for her paper dolls. She would later graduate with a degree from Mills College and the University of Virginia, eventually moving on to work for her mentor and one of her inspirations — Patricia Zipprodt whose own award, the Patricia Zipprodt Award for Innovative Costume Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology named in honor of the late legendary talented costume designer, was given to Ward in 2001.

Those paper doll clients surely paid off because just years later she would land the opportunity of a lifetime — getting to design the costumes for Disney’s 1994 Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, just three years after the animated version had been released. This was such a huge moment for Ward because this was the first time that Disney would be taking a dive into the Broadway world.

So what was the process behind the two iconic looks? Ward repeatedly mentions a method that she uses throughout many of the shows that she has designed for. Catering to her love of drawing, she first sketches out her ideas. As mentioned in a 2018 interview with Broadway World, Ward describes the importance of sketch stating that “A truly good sketch tells the dialogue of the character with the show and enlightens the director and actor as to where the tactile world of the character exists. It is the road map to good work.” 

After sketching she then moves on to the costume shop where she brings her ideas to life. That is where the draping happens and the fabric choice is made. The fitting is next where the team makes sure that the actors can move freely and comfortably in the costumes. Lastly, it is showtime. Ward expresses that this is one of the most important moments because the costumes are now for the actors to own and for the audiences to enjoy.

Surprisingly the process was not too difficult when it came to Belle’s costume. In an article by Andrew Andler, Ward stated that she, “spent a week with the animators who created the different characters, talking with each one of them, seeing what their research was because they did massive amounts of research.” She also, “studied the initial story of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ the historical nature of the story as a French fairytale from the mid-1700s.” I admire Ward’s dedication to the original work and her determination to make sure that even though she puts her own spin on the costumes, she still stays true to the original designs that we all know and love. She even went as far as using The Leah factor, a self-made technique named after her daughter who at the time was 5 years old. 

In an interview done with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the show’s scenic designer Stanley A. Meyer described the Leah Factor stating that it was where Leah would have to approve everything saying things such as “Oh no, Mommy, Belle’s ballgown has to be yellow. It can be gold, but it can’t be pink.” 

The Leah factor worked well because the dress is absolutely stunning. This extravagant, 30 pound, floor-length, off-the-shoulder golden and yellow gown is rounded with draped fabric to create the classic Belle look. The corset-shaped top half of the gown is filled with ribbon, bows, and flowers — with the center of the top having a corsage-looking piece. The dress has many layers of tulle making sure that the gown is as puffy and graceful as possible. On the skirt of the dress lies many golden bows. The actress Susan Egan who plays Belle in the Broadway musical wears a beaded necklace with jewel earrings and a flower hairpiece to add to the costume. Although contrasting Belle’s original yellow ones, the gown is paired with cream-colored fishnet elbow gloves to complete the look.

As for the Beasts’ costume, it took a little longer. According to an interview done with CNN Entertainment News, New York, Ward had drawn “20 different versions of the Beast” before she and the creative team decided on the final look. Terrence Mann who played the Beast in the Broadway musical underwent 27 fittings and hours of prosthetics just to make sure that the Beast look was just right. 

David H. Lawrence was the make-up artist and hair designer for the show and John Dods was the prosthetics specialist. Dods actually stated that little makeup was needed in the process since most of the Beast’s face and claws were done using prosthetics. The Beast’s jaw and monstrous teeth were very interesting since they were not dentures but prosthetics as well. Two sharp teeth stuck up from the bottom while the top teeth hung down over Mann’s actual teeth to enable him to sing while in costume. Mann wears a wig cap over his hair allowing him to display a headpiece with two large curved horns attached. The horns are fierce and appear as though they are coming straight at you. 

Lawrence collaborated with Dods in bringing the look to life. Staying true to Ward’s overall theme of wanting the costumes to look as if a human being had actually been enchanted, he was able to blend hair into the prosthetics to give it a realistic and believable look. Mann dons a baby blue bow on the back of his hair, reminding you that he is still a prince. To give Mann a more striking figure, he wore a bodysuit. The bodysuit had built-in muscles and extended his head and back out to give him a broad figure. 

As for his attire, Mann wears a blue cuffed tailcoat lined beautifully with extravagant gold and silver detailing. Under the coat lies a vertical striped vest that almost perfectly camouflages into the coat and placed directly on top is a jabot matching the lapel (flap on the tailcoat). In most of his looks, the Beast has a golden chain necklace with a large oval pendant which is also worn when the Beast wears his purple cloak. To complete the costume Mann wears black side-striped pants tucked into tall boots that also have special detailing. If this sounds like a lot, it is! It is said that it took over three hours at first to put everything together but once the team got the hang of it took less than half the time. It also took three people to help the Beast get dressed which is the literal definition of teamwork!

I really admire Ward, Dods, and Lawrence’s work when it came to bringing Beauty and the Beast to the stage. Their healthy balance between creative freedom and respect towards other artists’ works is what art is all about! Ward’s determination and hours of work paid off because she even earned a Tony award for her costume design. That led her to the opportunity to work on other versions of Beauty and the Beast. Here are a few of my favorites:

Now that we have seen Beauty and the Beast on Broadway let’s fast forward about 23 years later. Disney has just released its live-action Beauty and the Beast movie. What could have changed between the musical and the movie? How were the costume designs and processes in the movie different from the musical? In order to answer this, let’s now get to know Jacqueline Durran.

Costume designer Jacqueline Durran pictured in front of the Oscar’s sign at the Oscar’s

You may have heard Durran’s name floating around at a few award shows, or even on our website! That is because she has left such an impact on the entertainment industry. Nominated for an Academy Award for her work on Little Women and Pride and Prejudice, Durran has made her mark. Ironically the British fashion designer did not attend the Royal College of Art in London to study fashion and costume design. In fact, throughout her entire college experience and even after graduation she did not even know that costume design was a career option.

It was not until she started working at Angels, a costume store and London landmark, that she discovered her knack for vintage clothing and dating different wear. Durran stresses the idea of experience and how it has helped her navigate through the costume world. Her assignments working on several movies while at the store pushed her even further to more opportunities. Mirroring Ann Hould-Ward, Durran also assisted respected figures in costume design: Lindy Hemming (Wonder Woman 1984), Mike Leigh (Secret & Lies), and Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice). Using a combination of her mentors, experience, and interest in older styles of clothing, Durran would be the perfect candidate for Beauty and the Beast.

It fascinates me how different each experience was for the designers. Ward actually stated that Belle’s costume was not as difficult as trying to turn the rest of the cast into cookware. On the other hand, in an interview with ScreenSlam, Durran describes the process behind the yellow dress claiming that, “the yellow dress was one of the most difficult things to achieve” and in an interview with Disney Style,  Durran states that, “the yellow dress is a curious costume because it’s quite simple and quite difficult at the same time. The iconic yellow dress from the animation is so great and so well-loved that you don’t really want to change it.” 

Durran expresses her challenges with trying to live up to the expectations of not just the audience and their known interpretation of Beauty and the Beast but also trying to combine the actor’s, director’s and designer’s ideas together to reference the animation of one of the most beloved Disney princess movies. Some of Durran’s other challenges included elements in the story such as the time period, setting, and tricky scenes between the animated movie and the live-action version. 

So with all of this pressure on trying to make sure that Belle’s costume was lovable where did Durran start? Well, she actually took a very different approach when it came to Belle’s costume and character as a whole. Durran focuses on one main idea throughout the entire process which is to present Belle as an active heroine. Belle is the daughter of an inventor, so when it came to her designs she wanted to add elements of practicality and freedom. Belle’s rebellious and curious nature paired with her love of adventure was also taken into consideration when creating the dress.

Durran and the creative team endured a long design process where they tried out different looks and ways of how to interpret the gown. She already knew that the dress was going to be yellow but it was just a matter of how they were going to make it and how close it could be to the animated version. Durran and her creative team came to the conclusion that the dress just needed to flow, especially in the way that Belle was always on the move. She made sure to communicate a lot with Emma Watson, who played Belle, to get her input on the costume. 

Contrasting from the musical, Belle does not have a corset but rather a bodice to accentuate Belle’s need for motion. For even more liberation she adds boots to her wardrobe. As described by Durran, the dress had a “soft structure which was built up by many meters of silk organza that was all dyed yellow and cut broadly in a circular shape so it emphasized her movement” (ScreenSlam).  

Using the 18th century as a guide the team actually made Belle’s dress into a coatdress with a split front helping to add volume to it. The skirt of the dress was created with “petticoats and layers of satin organza” (Disney Style). To stay true to Belle’s active heroine trait, three tiers were added to the dress giving Belle the opportunity to dance as easily as she would like and to give the ruched look that the original animated film had. 

For accessories, Belle has a golden ear cuff that wraps around the sides of her ear, acting almost in an earthly manner. She wears a matching golden cuff around her bun similar to the one that Belle wears in the animated film. The last piece is a simple gold necklace that has a tree/plant-like pendant that feels organic.

We can also thank Durran for the Beast costume. She mentioned that in preparation for the film the costume team was working on physical costumes for the Beast. They were never aware of the Beast would be a prosthetic or CGI (Computer-generated imagery) so they just made 3-dimensional beast costumes. If you have not seen Beauty and the Beast yet the Beast is actually CGI.  

The process behind live-action to CGI is magnificent. Actor Dan Stevens who played the Beast recalled having to wear a big muscle suit while on stilts to capture the movements needed to film the movie. Durran stated that the visual effects department scanned the 3-dimensional costumes that she and the team made and then applied those physical costumes that were created to the CGI beast.  

Along with Belle, Durran also faced challenges with creating the Beast. One of the main challenges that were faced was trying to get the right shape and fit for the Beast. Sometimes the movies needed to switch out actors or do a stunt so there were many different people inside of the Beast costume. And making sure that they had different versions of the costume for each person definitely proved to be a little tough. The Beast also changes form throughout the movie so going from an animal-like character to a human kept her and her team on their feet. But they were able to do it! Like in the musical, the Beast is wearing a dark blue cuffed coat lined with golden detailing. The detailing though resembles a tree, looking very similar to Belle’s hair and earpiece, almost as if it symbolizes their relationship. The coat is also lined with golden buttons. Like the musical costume, the Beast wears a fancy patterned lace jabot to give him that 18th-century prince look. The horns differ however with the curved horns growing backward away from the audience.

Just in the way that Prince was inspired by Villenueve to write Beauty and the Beast in her own style, so were and many were Ward, Durran and so many others still to this day. I wish to continue to see different interpretations of the story and hope to one day be a part of such a wonderful journey. If you have not, please take the chance to watch Beauty and the Beast on Disney+ I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Valentine’s Day! How did you celebrate this year?

Watch Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Now Streaming on Disney +

If you are interested in learning more about each design, the designers or the story behind Beauty and the Beast feel free to check out these sources!

Adler, Andrew. “Ann Hould-Ward’s Costumes Give ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,’ at the Saenger Theater Dec. 29-Jan. 3.” NOLA.com, 22 Dec. 2015, 11:09pm, http://www.nola.com/entertainment_life/arts/article_e6cfbbcd-cf67-5665-ab4e-1fc6c171291d.html.

Bayley, Leanne. “Emma Watson on Belle’s Yellow Dress in Beauty and The Beast & How It Felt to Wear It.” Glamour UK, Glamour UK, 14 Mar. 2017, http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/belles-yellow-dress-beauty-and-the-beast-interview.

Beresford, Trilby. “Meet Oscar Nominated Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran.” Medium, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, 2 Mar. 2018, amysmartgirls.com/meet-oscar-nominated-costume-designer-jacqueline-durran-4ad3bef4cef6.

Gray, Channing. “Ann Hould-Ward Talks about Designing Costumes for ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Making a Return Visit to PPAC.” Providencejournal.com, Providencejournal.com, 24 May 2013, 12:30pm, http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20130524/ENTERTAINMENT/305249989.

Hagwood, Rod Stafford. “Tale ‘as Old as Time’ Gets New Twist.” SunSentinel, 11 Nov. 2011, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/entertainment/events/fl-xpm-2011-11-11-fl-features-beauty-beast-advance-20111111-story.html.

Hebert, James. “Preview: ‘Beast’ Is a Bear to Wear.” Tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Nov. 2015, 9:27am, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/theater/sdut-beauty-and-the-beast-preview-2015-2015nov17-htmlstory.html.

Hodgins, Paul. “’Beauty’ Was No Beast for Costume Designer.” Orange County Register, Orange County Register, 15 Nov. 2010, 8:05am, http://www.ocregister.com/2010/11/15/beauty-was-no-beast-for-costume-designer/.

Hoggard, Liz. “Ann Hould-Ward: ‘My Dad Was a Dry-Land Farmer, He Taught Me to Work Real Hard’.” The Stage, 17 Feb. 2020, http://www.thestage.co.uk/features/ann-hould-ward-my-dad-was-a-dry-land-farmer-he-taught-me-to-work-real-hard.

Hoo, Fawnia Soo. “How Jacqueline Durran Went From Selling Vintage Post-Grad to Winning an Oscar for Costume Design.” Fashionista, Fashionista, 3 Feb. 2020, fashionista.com/2020/02/little-women-jacqueline-durran-costume-designer-career.

Hoo, Fawnia Soo. “How the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Costume Designer Worked With Emma Watson to Bring a ‘Modern’ Belle to Life.” Fashionista, Fashionista, 13 Mar. 2017, fashionista.com/2017/03/beauty-and-the-beast-2017-dress-costumes.

Jesse. “Jacqueline Durran Wiki: Everything To Know About The ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Costume Desgner.” Panda Gossips, 11 Apr. 2018, pandagossips.com/posts/2298.

Lanes, Elliot. “BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Ann Hould-Ward.” BroadwayWorld.com, BroadwayWorld.com, 6 Aug. 2018, http://www.broadwayworld.com/washington-dc/article/BWW-Interview-Theatre-Life-with-Ann-Hould-Ward-20180806#:~:text=Ann%20Hould-Ward%20Today’s%20subject%20Ann%20Hould-Ward%20is%20both,limited%20just%20to%20the%20theatre%20by%20any%20means.

Lang, Kevin. “The True Story Behind Beauty and the Beast.” HistoryvsHollywood.com, History vs. Hollywood, 24 Oct. 2019, http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/beauty-and-the-beast/.

Staff, Playbill. “Look Back at the Original Broadway Cast of Beauty and the Beast.” Playbill, PLAYBILL INC., 18 Apr. 2020, http://www.playbill.com/article/look-back-at-the-original-broadway-cast-of-beauty-and-the-beast.

Syme, Rachel, and Rebecca Mead. “How Jacqueline Durran, the ‘Little Women’ Costume Designer, Remixes Styles and Eras.” The New Yorker, 13 Jan. 2020, http://www.newyorker.com/culture/on-and-off-the-avenue/how-jacqueline-durran-the-little-women-costume-designer-remixes-styles-and-eras?irclickid=W7iWzv1Z8xyLRygwUx0Mo38-UkEWfxQ5yS6pwE0&irgwc=1&source=affiliate_impactpmx_12f6tote_desktop_Bing+Rebates+by+Microsoft&utm_source=impact-affiliate&utm_medium=2003851&utm_campaign=impact&utm_content=Logo&utm_brand=tny.

Jacqueline Durran – Costume Design Oscar Winner


Congratulations to this years Oscar Winner in the Costume Design category for Little WomenJacqueline Durran !

Jacqueline’s costume design work for Little Women was truly remarkable. Little Women is a perfect exhibition of period costume design. In true Durran style, the costumes felt obviously special to the characters of this film. Each character honed a unique but subtly different wardrobe that really showed the progression and character development of each this film’s characters. Even though this is a example of period costume design, there was still a refreshing modern perspective that Jacqueline brought to this film that audiences have obviously been connecting with through the run of this film.

All of that aside, the costumes were just absolutely breathtaking ! I will never forget that moment when Florence Pugh’s character prepares to go see the man she is likely going to marry. She marches to the end of the room in a beautiful dress and whips this beautiful, vintage cape around her shoulders. It gave me a rodeo, elegant vibe that I was just obsessed with. When I saw this costume, I knew for sure this was a winner.


I feel that I can speak on behalf of the entire costume design community in saying how beyond proud of you we are, Jacqueline! Congratulations on this prestigious award, you deserve it Jacqueline! For those of you who haven’t seen Little Women yet… get it together please and go see it.

Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees as well. This was a impressive year for costume design and I am dying to see where this new decade takes us as an industry. Looking forward!

Photograph by Wilson WebbPhotograph by Wilson Webb

Photograph by Wilson Webb