Thread By Thread: Costumes on Screen

A Cinderella Story-Part II

Let me start out by saying I am completely obsessed with this take on Cinderella. I walk past a giant Billboard for it every day and I try and take a daily de-tour by the ornate golden coach from the film on display at Hollywood Studios on my way to work, where I may or may not lose a shoe in hopes that it means I could wear the dress and ride in it (the Prince is a bonus, but not the goal.) It is a sweeping grandiose version of the tale full of vibrant colors and a kind of airiness that defines fairy tales in which people long live in. Thus with my obvious bias apparent, let’s explore the wonderful costumes of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella.

Cinderella arrives to the Ball in her Gilded Gold Pumpkin Carriage assisted by the Lizards turned Footmen.

Cinderella arrives to the Ball in her Gilded Gold Pumpkin Carriage assisted by the Lizards turned Footmen.

Costume Designer Sandy Powell was recently quoted that the film is quite the departure from her recent work with Martin Scorsese on ‘mans-man films’ and the new Cinderella adaptation is her own chance to present a look for a ‘girls-girl film’. While the designer may feel this way, her Oscars were won for films that feature a strong female protagonist and period clothing: Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator & The Young Victoria. It is no surprise with then that her work on Cinderella combines historical line with the fantasy of the animated classic.

“This is not set in any real time period, so I could go all out with the color…. it’s a fairy story. I thought of it as a picture book, how it’s graphic and bright, you can tell who everybody is from the color they’re wearing. I could go out there and do the boldest versions of things I’d done before.”

The Colorful Marketplace shows a variety of bright colors and historical silhouettes present throughout the film.

The Colorful Marketplace shows a variety of bright colors and historical silhouettes present throughout the film.

Powell was inspired by the bold colorful textiles found in West Indian shops in her London neighborhood and choose specific color pallets for each character in the film and kept them in the designated colors throughout. Cinderella remains in blue, her family in Green, Yellow & Pink.

Cinderella fades in color in comparison to her stepfamily’s loud colors and bold prints.

Cinderella fades in color in comparison to her stepfamily’s loud colors and bold prints.

She also choose to differ the films villainous Stepmother & Stepsisters, from the rest of the characters by combining a 19th century silhouette with high fashion 1940s-50s outline. Making them seem both ahead of the curve but also out of place in magical setting. “They are meant to be totally ridiculous on the outside—a bit too much and overdone—and ugly on the inside,” Powell says. The Stepsisters, Anastatsia & Drizella are modeled after 1950s high society sorority sisters with shorter hemlines than their mother, puffy sleeves and bold floral prints.

Anastasia and Druzilla appear clownish is their fully matching outfits, despite their high quality clothing.

Anastasia and Druzilla appear clownish is their fully matching outfits, despite their high quality clothing.

Powell’s Sketch of the Stepsisters Anastasia & Drizella

Powell’s Sketch of the Stepsisters Anastasia & Drizella

Lady Tremaine maintains a cold and striking beauty in green, whilst her daughters Anastasia & Drizella appear childish in their pale yellow and pink.

Lady Tremaine maintains a cold and striking beauty in green, whilst her daughters Anastasia & Drizella appear childish in their pale yellow and pink.

Cate Blanchett’s Lady Tremaine was modeled after 40s silver screen legends such as Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford. “She[s] hurt, bitter, but there[s] no reason she should be ugly. She[s] beautiful but kind of intimidating,” Powell says of the character. Powell channeled Lady Tremaine’s dominating nature by accentuating Blanchett’s long neck, giving the illusion that she is always ‘above’ Cinderella.

Lady Tremaine also dresses in green to show her jealousy at Cinderella’s optimistic disposition despite her hardships.

Lady Tremaine also dresses in green to show her jealousy at Cinderella’s optimistic disposition despite her hardships.

Powell’s Sketch for Lady Tremaine’s Ball Gown.

Powell’s Sketch for Lady Tremaine’s Ball Gown.

Lady Tremaine’s dress takes after Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy gown from Sabrina, where her daughters look more like the young Princess Anne from Hepburn’s classic Roman Holiday. Albeit all three gowns are in garish colors and over embellished.

Lady Tremaine’s dress takes after Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy gown from Sabrina, where her daughters look more like the young Princess Anne from Hepburn’s classic Roman Holiday. Albeit all three gowns are in garish colors and over embellished.

As for her heroine Powell began of course with her look as a servant in her own home. “I didn’t want her in rags, as she is often portrayed in the storybooks. What I gave her instead is a dress that starts out pretty and ends up looking faded, tired, and worn out.” Her simple blue dress with a faded brown print stand out against the rich purples and browns of her home and importantly the forest where she first meets her Prince.

Cinderella’s ‘rags’ are actually made of a silk organza and have a lighter silk underlay, to show her true nobility and gentle nature.

Cinderella’s ‘rags’ are actually made of a silk organza and have a lighter silk underlay, to show her true nobility and gentle nature.

Upon her first meeting with the Prince, Cinderella stands in contrast with the forest while still being the natural pallet, making her seem comfortable already to the Prince. The Prince by contrast in already in the environment but adds a connection to Cinderella by always wearing a pop of blue.

Upon her first meeting with the Prince, Cinderella stands in contrast with the forest while still being the natural pallet, making her seem comfortable already to the Prince. The Prince by contrast in already in the environment but adds a connection to Cinderella by always wearing a pop of blue.

When it comes time for the ball Cinderella dons a pink dress that belonged to her mother, similarly to the one worn in the animated classic. The gown is clearly modeled after early Victorian silhouette and is eventually transformed by the appearance of her Fairy Godmother. The Fairy Godmother appears at first in an older form, complete with a seemingly worn cloak and a stoop. She then quickly transforms into a young version of herself complete with a glittering wand to complement her glowing white 18th century gown. With the transformation of the pumpkin and her attendants the Fairy Godmother then begins the transformation of Cinderella’s gown.

The pale pink dress is clearly and old one and does make Cinderella looks as though she is playing dress up, making the notion that she loves it and want to wear it to the ball, all the sweeter.

The pale pink dress is clearly and old one and does make Cinderella looks as though she is playing dress up, making the notion that she loves it and want to wear it to the ball, all the sweeter.

Powell’s Sketch for the Marie Antoinette inspired gown for the Fairy Godmother.

Powell’s Sketch for the Marie Antoinette inspired gown for the Fairy Godmother.

The Fairy Godmother’s older silhouette shows her true age but also is a nod to the author of Cinderella, Charles Perrault who published his popular French version of the tale in 1697.

The Fairy Godmother’s older silhouette shows her true age but also is a nod to the author of Cinderella, Charles Perrault who published his popular French version of the tale in 1697.

Powell decided for Cinderella’s ball gown the stick with the classic blue of the original but to make it more voluminous whilst still maintaining an airiness and glow to it. “I wanted to make the gown look enormous,” she says. “The gown had to look lovely when she dances and runs away from the ball. I wanted her to look like she was floating, like a watercolor painting.” The skirt itself is made of many layers of crepeline silk, printed polyester organza and iridescent nylon in shades of pale blue, turquoise and lavender, with a petticoat underneath that way when she moved it floated. Further sparkle was added by attaching more than 10,000 Swarovski crystals to the top layer of fabric on the gown. On the neckline custom made butterflies in bright colors were attached while still maintaining the shape of her mother’s original gown.

Powell’s Sketch of the gown, she wanted the watercolor effect to be present in the real-life gown as well.

Powell’s Sketch of the gown, she wanted the watercolor effect to be present in the real-life gown as well.

The gown was made from over 270 yards of fabric and nine versions were made for the film.

The gown was made from over 270 yards of fabric and nine versions were made for the film.

Cinderella’s multifaceted blue ball gown is a standout in the sea of brightly colored prints on others at the ball.

Cinderella’s multifaceted blue ball gown is a standout in the sea of brightly colored prints on others at the ball.

”The silhouette and the shape of the shoulders is from the original animation, But we created more of a fitted look and dressed him in less masculine colors such as blue, green, and white.” Powell says of the Prince’s look.

”The silhouette and the shape of the shoulders is from the original animation, But we created more of a fitted look and dressed him in less masculine colors such as blue, green, and white.” Powell says of the Prince’s look.

As for the iconic glass slipper, Powell was inspired by an 1889 shoe she saw in the Northampton Museum (Which has an awesome shoe collection, some of which is available to view online by the way). The inspiration itself had a five inch heel with no platform and was originally made for display at the Paris Exhibition in 1889, making the slipper unwearable. Since she wanted to the show to actually sparkle, which glass does not, the slipper’s practicality further diminished once Powell collaborated with Swarovski the make the shoes. The slippers were then added onto Cinderella’s feet digitally in post-production, but a total of eight pairs of shoes were created for filming.

The inspiration for Cinderella’s Slipper made by Charles Hind c. 1889 on display at the Northampton Museum.

The inspiration for Cinderella’s Slipper made by Charles Hind c. 1889 on display at the Northampton Museum.

The “Glass” Slipper designed for the film made by Swarovski, also included a golden butterfly studded with smaller crystals.

The “Glass” Slipper designed for the film made by Swarovski, also included a golden butterfly studded with smaller crystals.

After Cinderella’s Midnight escape from the ball, her Prince naturally sets off on a quest to find her. After several obstacles, including both of their families, they are reunited once more. For their wedding Powell created much softer looks for the couple, even reversing their color pallets from the ball. For the Prince, she kept with the military look of the original but tailored the dyed wool jacket in a fitted 1950s style. For Cinderella’s wedding gown, she designed a 50s inspired long sleeve ivory silk organza featuring hand painted colorful flowers. “Cinderella wins the Prince’s heart through her goodness, so I wanted to show this through her clothes,” Powell explains. “I wanted her to stay modest and pure even though she was going to be a part of royalty.”

The gown was created by 16 artisans and was made over the course of 550 hours.

The gown was created by 16 artisans and was made over the course of 550 hours.

The reversal in color scheme shows, how the Prince’s heart now belong to Cinderella, and is just as pure.

The reversal in color scheme shows, how the Prince’s heart now belong to Cinderella, and is just as pure.

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This entry was published on February 15, 2015 at 2:45 pm. It’s filed under Entertainment, Feb. 2015 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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