10 interesting things you probably don't know about iconic Disney outfits

10 interesting things you probably don't know about iconic Disney outfits

Disney characters have worn iconic outfits in animated and live-action films, but even the biggest fans may not know all the secrets behind them.

Here are behind-the-scenes facts and Easter eggs about famous Disney outfits.

Live-action models were used to help Pinocchio look as real as possible.

Pinocchio in "Pinocchio" (2940).
Pinocchio's outfit in "Pinocchio" was influenced by live-action models. Walt Disney Pictures

When Disney made its first full-length animated feature, "Snow White" (1937), animators took inspiration from live-action models to draw realistic movements for the characters and their costumes.

The technique was so successful that the filmmakers did it again for the second feature film, "Pinnochio" (1940).

Additionally, the titular character famously wears knickers, suspenders, and a bowtie. According to The Art of Costume, the design was based on popular children's clothing from the 1920s.

But Pinnochio's hat and gloves were meant to help give him a more puppet-like appearance than the human children in the film.

Swarovski provided thousands of crystals for Prince Adam's "Beauty and the Beast" costume.

Prince Adam in "Beauty and the Beast" (2017).
Dan Stevens as Prince Adam in "Beauty and the Beast."Walt Disney Pictures

In the live-action "Beauty and the Beast" (2017), Prince Adam's formal wear was based on historical coats of rich aristocrats.

Costume designer Jacqueline Durran told the NZ Herald in 2017 that his first outfit also featured thousands of real crystals from Swarovski.

The designer added that the embroidery of the coat featured a wild boar, a dragon, and a lion to resemble Adam's family crest.

Gaston's live-action costume took inspiration from military uniforms.

Luke Evans as Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast" (2017).
Luke Evans as Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast."Walt Disney Pictures

Gaston's color palette in the live-action Disney film was similar to the original animated "Beauty and the Beast" (1976). But the actual garments looked a bit more complex.

"We dressed him as if he was a military figure or someone with aspirations to be in the military," Durran told the NZ Herald. "We played with different interpretations of his look, but the foundation is definitely 18th century military in style."

The costumes in “Moana” (2016) were inspired by a combination of cultures and natural materials.

moana disney
The characters would've likely made their own clothing with materials from their island. Walt Disney Animation Studios

"Moana" was set far enough back in time that there wasn't any specific photo documentation to go off of, which posed challenges for the film's visual-development artist Neysa Bové.

The artist told Technique in 2016 that the animators used a combination of cultural influences from the Polynesia and Pacific islands to create the characters' intricate looks.

In addition to being inspired by real traditions, the designers considered how "self-made" each piece looked as the characters in the film would've had to handcraft their outfits.

The skirts, tops, and other garments we see in the film are meant to look like they were made from plant materials such as leaves, flowers, and tree bark found on the island.

Ariel’s underwater outfits were digitally added after filming.

Ariel in "The Little Mermaid" (2023).
Halle Bailey as Ariel in "The Little Mermaid."Walt Disney Pictures

Speaking to Harpers Bazaar in 2023, "Little Mermaid" (2023) costume designer Colleen Atwood said her team created real costumes for the characters even though most of them ended up being CGI.

She specifically wanted the animators to have references when it came to her vision for the shape and color.

"If you give the CGI people a solid reference, they have a better template to go off than just creating it from scratch digitally," Atwood said.

Most of the outfits the designer made — except for things like King Triton's breastplate and parts of Ursula's costume — were never worn by the actors.

Over 5,000 petals were used to create the showstopping red dress in "Cruella" (2021).

Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil in "Cruella."
Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil in "Cruella."Walt Disney Studios

In "Cruella," the live-action prequel of "101 Dalmatians" (1996), Cruella de Vil wears a petal-covered gown with an impressively long train.

Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan told Vogue in 2021 that making this dress was a big undertaking.

"I had a lot of students hand-sewing petals in my workroom," she said. "Apparently, there were 5,060 petals in total."

The characters in "Encanto" (2021) have their individual gifts hidden on their costumes.

An arrow pointing at Luisa's dress in "Encanto."
There is a lot of detailed embroidery on the costumes in "Encanto."Walt Disney Pictures

Real-life sisters and "Encanto" costume designers Neysa and Lorelay Bové told Elle in 2022 about the secret details they added to the characters' garments.

"Each character, depending on their gift, will have a little bit of nuance designed into their costume," Lorelay said.

She specifically pointed to the spices and dumbbells embroidered onto Julieta and Luisa's skirts, respectively. Julieta can heal people using food and Lusia has superhuman strength.

Also corresponding with their powers, Antonio's vest features animals, Pepa's dress has water and lightning details, and Dolores' costume is decorated with soundwaves.

The "Mary Poppins" (1964) designer had to be extra careful when creating the film's costumes.

Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in "Mary Poppins" (1964).
Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in "Mary Poppins."Walt Disney Pictures

Although "Mary Poppins" was based on the 1934 novel by P.L. Travers, Walt Disney didn't own the rights to its illustrations.

According to the Walt Disney Family Museum, costume and set designer Tony Walton had to be careful not to imitate the style of the outfits in the book to avoid being accused of copying.

To help with this, the movie was placed in the 1910s (known for its Edwardian style) instead of the 1930s (known for its modern style).

Snow White’s dress includes elements from various periods, creating a unique silhouette.

snow white still
The colorful dress has a few different inspirations. Disney

The classic yellow, red, and blue dress we know from "Snow White" can't really be traced back to any one time period.

According to The Art of Costume, the animators used a combination of elements that were found throughout Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. These include the slashes in the puffy sleeves, the neckline's tall collar, and the pointed-waist bodice.

But the overall elongated hourglass shape of the waist and skirt was more reminiscent of 1930s silhouettes that were popular when the film was being made.

The “Frozen II” costume designers traveled to Europe for inspiration.

frozen 2
The "Frozen" movies' setting takes inspiration from Nordic countries like Norway. Disney

According to the New York Times, when it came time to create new looks for Anna and Elsa for "Frozen II" (2019), the movie's costume team headed to countries like Norway, Finland, and Iceland to gather ideas.

The resulting outfits were created with a combination of influences in mind, including haute couture, runway fashion, and traditional Nordic designs.

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