The costumes in “Cinderella” are beyond breathtaking and along with the acting and set design really bring the movie to life. Here are some interesting facts about the costumes from actors Lily James (Cinderella) and Richard Madden (the Prince, AKA “Kit”) and costume designer Sandy Powell.
- When it came to designing Cinderella’s ball gown, Powell says her primary concern was the dress’ movement. The dress would be featured in the iconic moments of Lily James dancing at the ball and running from the castle at the stroke of midnight. The dress needed to float behind her as she ran and gracefully move as she danced.
- The ball gown looks like it has many, many layers, but there are less than one might think. There is a crinoline cage that gives the dress its silhouette and on top of that are a couple of petticoats with lots and lots of frills. The top layer is called silk crepoline that is a bit heavier than a chiffon. The underneath are silver, green, blue, lavender and lilac layers of an ultra light a polyester fabric called umisama (I could not verify the spelling or find it online). There is also a lesser expensive iridescent fabric layer as well. Eight ball gowns were made for the movie and each used more than 270 yards of fabric.
- In early discussions, Madden had discussions with Powell about ways to keep his character looking masculine, in spite of the need for the costumes to be heavily decorative (and the tight pants). Because they had had these discussions, he was initially surprised by the amount of sequence and such on the costume he was to wear for the ball room scene, but once in the context of the set and other actor, he says it felt regal and even masculine.
- Madden says that learning to waltz for the film was miserable as he is not a natural dancer. He trained three to four days a week for several months ahead of time so that his skills were enough so that he would not destroy Cinderella’s elaborate dress in rehearsals (although he did destroy a couple of practice dresses) with his boots.
- Cate Blanchett’s costumes were inspired by movies made in the 1940s that were about the set in the 19th century.
- All of the embroidery for the costumes was done in Pakistan.
- While designing Cinderella’s ball gown, Powell kept in mind that the dress would eventually be shrunk down for little girls and dolls.
- After looking at many forms of glass, Powell says that Cinderella’s glass slipper was ultimately most influenced by chandelier crystal and how the light hits it and is refracted. She in turn turned to Swarovski. There were many 2D computer renders that went back and forth before a final design was agreed upon.
- The stepsisters’ dresses were inspired by the 1950s.
- Designing the wedding dress was one of the hardest things to design because it has to follow up the amazing ball gown. According to Powell, it couldn’t be bigger or just the same shape in another color, so she decided to go with a late 19th century look (instead of the mid 19th century look of the ball gown) so that it would be more streamlined. She wanted it to be more grownup and sophisticated. She didn’t want it to be completely white and opted to add hand-painted flowers inspired by 1950s dresses.
- Helena Bonham Carter’s dress was lit from underneath with 400 LED lights on different circuits connected to battery packs that the actress had to wear.
- Although there have been people who have produced claims that Lily James’ waist is photoshopped to look smaller throughout the movie, the actress asserts this is definitely not the case. James naturally has a very small waist (and after meeting her in person, I agree). On top of already being small waisted, she wore a corset during filming (as was the style in the 19th century) AND the dress was designed with lines that made her waist look even smaller (a bit of an optical illusion). She loved wearing the dress in spite of it being very heavy and very tight. She even admits that the tight dress and corset made her burp a lot!
- The only way James could sit in the ball gown is if someone went under the dress and gave her a stool to sit on.
My full review of the movie will post this Friday. I would like to thank Disney for the opportunity to interview Cinderella’s cast and production team for this piece. I also got to walk the red carpet for the “Cinderella” world premiere. You can read about my amazing experience by clicking here.