The Beauty and the Beast Costume Designer Talks Bringing a Modern Belle to the Big Screen
The film's costume designer worked closely with Emma Watson to develop a reinvented, modern version of Belle's classic yellow ballgown
Disney fans are counting down the days until the highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast remake starring Emma Watson, but it won’t be exactly the same as the original 1991 classic. Watson has us all excited to see how she transformed Belle into a feminist version of the iconic princess, and the star even caused some buzz when she mentioned that an “incredibly subtle” gay moment subplot happens in the film.
The movie’s costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, helps tell the story of this reinvented Belle with modern twists on the character’s 18th century style, while still paying tribute to the movie’s original feel that fans love.
“We took elements of those 18th century things and added them to Belle. So her pockets, for instance, are an 18th century thing,” Durran told Fashionista. “It’s just that people didn’t wear them outside like she does. I would take elements that were historical and bring them with a twist.”
In terms of Belle’s iconic yellow ball gown, Durran and Watson worked together to develop a reimagined version of the dress, which ended up challenging because “there are elements in which the yellow dress works against [being a modern, strong Belle] in a sense of being a pretty, princess-y kind of dress.” But ultimately, after much work, the design ended up looking pretty similar to the animated original.
“What we did with that silhouette was to try and give it a lightness and a fluidity and very little structure, so that Emma didn’t feel inhibited or trapped by it,” Durran said. “It was as light as it could possibly be, but at the same time had enough movement to work for the gown. It’s very wearable and it doesn’t have such a big skirt.”
And getting that perfect shade of yellow for Belle’s gown so it reminded us of the look we all know and love? It’s not as easy as you’d think.
“[We looked at] how much shine the yellow had; how matte the yellow was; whether the fabric had the texture; what tone the yellow was,” Durran said. “Sometimes what you thought was the right yellow would be completely wrong once you camera tested it.”
But in the end, creating costumes for the CGI Beast, played by Dan Stevens, proved to be the biggest challenge of the film.
“The shape of the Beast would be evolving as we were making the costumes; everyone had an opinion of what shape the Beast should be or how big his head should be or how hairy he was!” she told Fashionista. “We would always adapt the costumes as the Beast would evolve.”
Are you planning on going to see Beauty and the Beast this Friday in theaters? Tell us in the comments below!