Dressing the characters
Aladdin costume designer Michael Wilkinson created timeless garments from exquisite jewel-tone fabrics to help tell the story of a princess and a street rat, a sultan, and a vizier. Read on to see how he came up with the looks seen in the live-action film.
Jasmine (in disguise)
When it came to creating the look Jasmine (Naomi Scott) wears as she wanders through Agrabah hoping not to be recognized, costume designer Michael Wilkinson opted for neutral fabrics with just a hint of vibrant blue-green.
A touch of turquoise
“I wanted all of her costumes to have a tease of turquoise, so it becomes her iconic motif,” Wilkinson says. “You see it repeated again and again until you see the whole turquoise costume in the middle of the film.” Pairing her split skirt with trousers hinted at her nature as a more “fluid and modern” princess, Wilkinson notes.
Let’s face it — Aladdin’s vest-and-no-shirt look from the 1992 animated film is wildly impractical. Still, with an eye toward honoring that original ensemble, Wilkinson mined the character’s personality for inspiration. “With Aladdin, he is a street kid who lives by his wit and his audacity,” he says. “He’s very streetwise, so we wanted him to have a bit of swagger.”
Wilkinson gave Mena Massoud’s diamond-in-the-rough striped pants as well as a striped shirt and added a hood to his vest. A pair of custom leather shoes completed the ensemble.
Jasmine (in magenta)
In addition to filling out Jasmine’s life with a new friend and handmaiden, Dalia, the live-action Aladdin tells us more about the princess’ mother. “In our film Jasmine wears clothing inspired by South Asian countries to honor her late mother,” Wilkinson says. “A lot of Jasmine’s costumes have a slightly different feel to the rest of Agrabah, the country that her mother made her home, which distinguishes her from the rest of the looks.”
Bright and bold
That difference is on display in this magenta dress — with turquoise accents, of course.
Jasmine (in orange)
One of the first steps toward expanding Jasmine’s style was broadening her color palette. Wilkinson dressed Scott in bright colors, such as oranges and fuchsias, as a reference to her inner character. “Jasmine is a very modern Disney princess, so she could really carry off these very strong colors,” Wilkinson says. “We thought that she would have a very bold personal style because she is a very confident woman.”
The character’s inner turmoil also played out in the structure of her clothing. Wilkinson kept her palace-wear rigid, while private outfits had a looser, more relaxed fit.
A sultan should look like — well — royalty, so Wilkinson didn’t want to settle for the near-monochromatic outfit that Jasmine’s dear old dad wore in the animated film. That’s why he draped actor Navid Negahban in bright oranges and greens.
Fit for a sultan
The final, essential touches were the finishes: an osprey feather for his headdress and buttons and belts Wilkinson found in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. “We wanted to layer the colors and fabrics in the most sumptuous and surprising eye-catching way,” Wilkinson says. “That was a wonderful challenge, to find the most lovely, lavish fabrics to express the wealth and the power of the sultan’s palace.”
For Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the filmmakers built out the character’s backstory, making his high-ranking position in the Agrabah government a little more plausible (lest audiences wonder why the sultan would place his faith in such a clearly untrustworthy adviser). Jafar’s wardrobe reflected those embellishments.
Man in uniform
“[Jafar] has these military plans for the future,” Wilkinson says. “With the armor and some of the more formal looks, it almost looks like a dress uniform that he’s wearing when he’s in the court.” Much remained the same from the animated version, however. His costumes are largely black and red, and his turban is adorned with a single feather.
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