Post-Beauty and the Beast costuming thoughts

Hands down, the background characters’ costumes are stunning, as are the servants’ human costumes.  Madame Garderobe’s blue gown even has scallop-pinked trimming!  So much silk and damask and happy-sigh-worthy perfection.

Beast and Gaston... Until I get my hands on some photos of the opening scene to better analyze the prince’s costume (the ladies are pure rococo), I can’t say much on that, but otherwise, everything I said still stands with nothing else needing to be added aside from some speculation about Gaston.  Gaston was called Captain, and he was a war veteran.  This detail is actually put into his chamois leather coat.  Chamois leather was used primarily for hunting and military.  So this could potentially be a military coat.

Let’s see if we can figure out which war he fought in without giving away a plot point. The men’s costumes are very, very 1750-1760, though this movie couldn’t have taken place that late.  (I’m not going to nitpick being a couple decades off though, especially if the exact year wasn’t specified to the costumer and Emma, who wouldn’t have cared anyway.) We have a better indication of the era though, and that indication comes from the movie by a specific event that really happened.

The event that we see Maurice fleeing with Baby Belle took place in 1720-1722 (this event is a running theme through the movie). The traumatized captain hopefully wasn’t a captain in any war around 1720, but Emma appears to be about 25. So this movie is in the area of 1740. War of the Polish Succession happened in 1733-1738. War of the Austrian Succession was 1740-1748. He wouldn’t have been to that one and back unless Emma is supposed to be playing a 30-year-old-or-older Belle. The Quadruple Alliance ended in 1720.  So I suppose he was a veteran of the Polish Succession.

Emma’s costumes…

What I thought was one of her provincial ensembles wasn’t something that appeared together on screen.  She wore the white floral apron at the castle, but not with the pockets or that particular bodice.  She wore a blue and blue cross-over with that skirt and apron.  There’s a peek of the rest just visible in this.  So this display had some mixed up pieces.  Despite the inaccuracies, both of these ensembles still work well for invoking the era.

The yellow gown has the same problems I noted on its study page, with one new one.

There’s nothing transformative. Her makeup looks the same, her hair is down, but not different otherwise. She looks like she tossed on a yellow dress, and that’s it. A garment can change how a person carries themselves.  She looks like, “Here I am, in a long dress.”  She doesn’t elevate the dress, and the dress doesn’t elevate her.  Something I’ve observed in my own daughter is when she’s in one of her ultra-fancy dresses, her carriage changes, as does her demeanor.  Many people have noticed this.  She’s not even aware she does it, but she goes from running around like a loon to holding her head higher and acting regal.  That’s what a truly regal gown can do.  It can affect how you feel about yourself, and that will show.  
That yellow gown didn’t have that affect.  It’s Emma in a yellow dress.  Meanwhile, in the animated version, our hot-headed, yet introverted Belle who sometimes doubted herself on screen transformed into this giddy young woman in her gown. She fluffed up the skirt to show herself off, preened a bit, and she displayed an increase in confidence and joy.  That Belle absolutely blossomed in that moment.  Our rose had fully bloomed.  We saw nothing of the sort with Emma’s version.

Now, it can be argued that the glitter is okay because the pattern was lifted from the floor and ceiling, as I’ve seen a few people mention, except for a couple things.

First, the floor and ceiling weren’t glitter.  In reality, the gold would have been gold leafing, which is thin sheets of real gold.  In that era, and for a couple centuries afterward, fine strands of precious metals were woven into fabrics, and embroidered into fabrics.  (Until just a handful of decades ago, lamé was made from thin ribbons of real gold or silver, and would tarnish.)  It would have made more sense to have that gold leafing weave/embroider itself into the fabric. As it stand, as I said in my earlier post, the paint and glitter isn’t substantial enough, as embroidery would have been.  This is actually from the movie:

Second, this gown’s “wow” factor is entirely in it’s spin-factor.

That can only last for so long though.  We saw this gown for a remarkably short period of time during this scene.  The cameras kept panning to the sets.  The animated film did this too, but a a chance to show off some of the brand-new CGI abilities they were able to use in animating the ballroom.  Watching a gown spin will only stay interesting for so long, especially when it lacks sparkle.  Despite the glitter, this gown really didn’t sparkle much.  It had some shine at times, but it lacked depth and substance.

It pains me to pick apart this gown when the overall design of it is my personal style (remember, I made myself a gown using almost the exact same skirt styling, just with four layers and without the waterfall effect in the back, which I joked should be made in yellow for Belle), but that doesn’t change my mind about the glitter and paint in place of embroidery (no, embroidery wouldn’t be too heavy as heavier embroidery didn’t, in any way, affect the floppiness and lightness of my “Emma” gown).  It’s just does not have enough substance, and makes the gown look plainer and flatter than it should.

I’m not sure why the “celebration” gown was made to be 21st century modern when we really didn’t see that much of it.  What we did still looks to be modern garden party.  Shorten it to tea length, and it would be a perfect version of a 50’s-style dress to wear to a garden party or for Easter today.  Again, it’s a dress I personally love, but, again, it just doesn’t fit the character or the time, and if Jacqueline Durran thinks that the yellow dress “works against [being a modern, strong Belle] in a sense of being a pretty, princess-y kind of dress,” then I’m not sure how a pretty, peachy pink flowery princess-y kind of dress is more feminist (though I’m not sure at all how a dress can be called feminist or not if a person gets to freely choose their own personal clothing).

I’m going to close this post with a couple photos of my daughter in gowns I made her inspired by parts of the rococo era, as Tiny Marie Antoinette when she was three years old (later 18th century), and as Rococo Cinderella when she was four years old (more fantasy-based mid 18th century)…


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