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Follow the Threads
The animated film is so well-loved that creating costumes for the live-action version required refining, not redoing. "It's really about embellishing what's in the animation rather than changing anything fundamentally," says Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran. Here, she explains the vibrant new variations. Read more about Disney's Beauty and the Beast, featuring the casts and creators of the new film and the animated classic, in Entertainment Weekly's special edition The Ultimate Guide to Beauty and the Beast, on newsstands now.
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Belle's Blue Dress
When it came to reimagining Belle's blue dress, "l wanted to show more to it, more than simply the blue outline of the animation," Durran says. So for that frock (and all of Belle's simple village-wear, including the red number in the next slide), she took the basic idea of animated Belle's clothing and infused it with 18th-century French period details, like delicate lacing on the bodice.
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Belle's Provincial Village Cloak
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Belle's Ball Gown
The yellow ball gown, meanwhile, required hundreds of hours of work. Made of silk organza with gold leaf and glitter detailing in a pattern that matches the Beast's ballroom floor, the opulent dress was light enough for Emma Watson to move in (a lack of a corset helped). And it's not meant to be an exact replica of its hand-drawn predecessor. "l really believe that if you are a fan of the original movie, if the dress didn't in some way reinterpret that original dress, it would always be slightly disappointing," Durran says. If you look closely at Belle's accessories, they too evoke the Beast's dwelling. "There are elements that are the results of the castle being a living thing and creating this costume," the designer says, noting the plantlike cuff on Belle's ear, the feather motif repeated in the hair ornament, and the organic gold filigree necklace, which Durran says "is a sort of magic reinterpretation of the tree of life."
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The Beast may be a (former) man of few words, but his costumes tell a rich story. Early in the film he doesn't wear much clothing at all; instead, he hides behind shredded cloth that forms a cape. "There's not anything human to him at the beginning, and then slowly human elements are reintroduced," Durran says. As he falls deeper in love with Belle, he starts caring about his wardrobe again — and the household-staff-turned-objects are eager to assist. "We thought about how the objects would have been rallying around to try and help him become the prince that Belle would fall in love with," Durran says. For example, when it came to the outfit the Beast wears to the ball, Durran's team imagined Plumette painting the design onto it, making the embroidery look like gold print. Not that it's easy dressing a Beast: Durran had to make garments that stretched and moved with the animal-like character, which required alternately working with the visual-effects department, a physical mold, a stuntman and actor Dan Stevens. Even the Beast's beard was a challenge. As Durran puts it, "Collars are not problems you usually deal with." Ruffly neckwear — how beastly!
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The limelight-loving pair of Madame de Garderobe and Cadenza — she's a singer, he's a harpsichordist — needed costumes to match their bold personalities. So Durran looked to classic 18th-century French fashions worn by royal performers and added subtle, enchanting details to their looks which were in keeping with the garb of the other castle denizens. For the outfit Stanley Tucci wears as Cadenza, she says, "we cut up gold lace fabric and appliquéd it on the coat and waistcoat to create the impression of embroidery. It was one of my favorite things in the film's costumes."
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Madame de Garderobe
Audra McDonald's dress wasn't as delicate as Stanley Tucci’s outfit. As Madame de Garderobe, the actress wore a gown that reflected the interior's grandeur and evoked the stately wardrobe she becomes once the witch's spell is cast. "l really wasn't prepared for how they would have me mirror [the wardrobe] in human form," McDonald says. "She's humongously glorious, and the costume was so big I couldn't sit down in between takes."
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No one's slick like Gaston, no one's quick like Gaston — and few probably focus on their looks as Gaston. Here, the egotistical villain's signature red returns to the big screen first in costumes influenced by an 18th-century army uniform. Not that this poseur has ever been in the line of fire, of course. Gaston just always wants to appear as impressive as possible, hence the predominance of extravagantly embellished jackets that Luke Evans wears throughout the film. "It's all about vanity and the impression he wants to give off of pure masculinity," Durran says. "Because he's so vain, he keeps having to add details to himself. He's always kind of pumping himself up and making sure he looks the most extraordinary."
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Just as Emma Watson gave input to Durran as they worked to craft Belle's look, Kevin Kline weighed in on the aesthetic direction of his character, Belle's papa. "Kevin had a strong feeling of [Maurice's clothing] being influenced by an artist's smock, so his smock coat was made of linen like an artist's," Durran says. "It was really about capturing the sense of an 18th-century artist and someone who's come from Paris and moved to this backwater village and how he'd stand out." And though in the new version Belle is now the inventor of the family, Maurice remains as quirky as ever. "He's absentminded, and Kevin wasn't uncertain about his interpretation," Durran says. "At one point I think he kept two pairs of glasses on. He's a lovable eccentric."
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As much as Le Fou hopes to copy Gaston, all he can muster is a "washed-out version" of Gaston's look, Durran says. That idea manifests in the limp necktie actor Josh Gad wears — a small token connecting the meek lackey to the man he idolizes. "He can't be the full Gaston because he's nowhere near good enough, but copying him by having a red necktie counts," Durran says. "He couldn't really aspire to have any of the fashionable or military details." Still, Gad didn't have any qualms about his costume being a pale imitation of his costar's; Durran remembers the actor being delighted just to try on his outfit at his first fitting. "He did a lot of singing," she says with a laugh. "Comic, operatic singing."
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Be Our Guest
Entertainment Weekly’s The Ultimate Guide to Beauty and the Beast, featuring the casts and creators of the new film and the animated classic, is on sale now.