When EW revealed the first look at Guy Ritchie’s live-action Aladdin remake in December, there was one question (no, not Will Smith’s Blue Genie-gate) that was perplexing a lot of fans: in the arid heat of Agrabah, just why is Disney’s beloved street rat wearing so many layers of clothes?
“That’s the question on everyone’s lips,” said costume designer Michael Wilkinson, with a laugh.
And turns out, there’s a simple answer.
In the 1992 animated classic, a musclebound Aladdin wears a purple waistcoat that shows off his pecs, with off-white harem pants, a crimson cummerbund, and a jaunty maroon fez hat. But in Ritchie’s movie, actor Mena Massoud wears a full-sleeved white striped shirt under a thick red embroidered waistcoat, distressed linen trousers, a maroon Kufi-style cap, and a pair of moccasin-style laced-up boots, defying the hot and dry desert climate of the fictional Middle Eastern realm of Agrabah.
“For the same reason why we thought it wasn’t appropriate for Princess Jasmine to be flashing her belly button for half of the film, we also felt that once you make that leap from cartoon into live-action, you really have to make some adjustments,” Wilkinson explained. “We thought having so much skin showing on Aladdin for the whole film would be quite distracting on a human actor as opposed to a cartoon character.”
For Jasmine (played by Naomi Scott), Wilkinson designed a whole new wardrobe that includes a new spin on her iconic turquoise crop top and harem pants outfit from the animated movie. In the new film, Wilkinson added a flesh-colored bodice to the turquoise top that covers Jasmine’s midriff and embroidered the billowing harem pants with peacock feathers, a motif associated with Jasmine.
“We wanted to, of course, refer to the iconic image from the animated film but within the context of the world we were creating around Jasmine, [such as] the way the courtiers dress and the way the people from the market town dress,” Wilkinson said. “It really felt more appropriate to do something that referred to the crop top that we see in the animation but we extended the [top’s] line down, we had almost a flesh-colored fabric through the waist, but because it was more of a formal outfit for the palace court, it’s quite restrictive.”
Aladdin hits theaters this Friday.