COURTESY BUENA VISTA
In Central Park, Amy Adams, as the fairy-tale princess Giselle, tries to open Patrick Dempsey's mind to the magic of singing to make one's dreams come true. Giselle's costume changes throughout the film reveal her transformation from cartoon character to contemporary New Yorker.
Pouf! Costume magic
The wardrobe in Disney's new film pulls off the cartoon-to-real world theme
It takes more than pixie dust and animated doves to dress a princess, prince and cast of 300 dancers for a grand ball, but costume designer Mona May was up to the task of turning animated characters in "Enchanted" into their three- dimensional human counterparts.
Clips of Disney's new movie, "Enchanted," followed by "Princess Enchanted Tales":
» Time: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday
» Place: The Disney Store, Ala Moana
» Admission: Free
» Costume contest: Dress as a prince or princess (sign up by 9:15 a.m.). First 100 attendees will receive a prize.
"It's one of the biggest dreams for a designer to design for a princess, but it's also difficult because you're dealing with iconic Disney characters who have been in the psyche of the viewing audience for so long. It's a big responsibility to stay true to the character while trying to invent something new," said the designer, by phone, on a break from a new film project.
"Enchanted" opens Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving, and stars Amy Adams as the Princess Giselle, James Marsden as her Prince Edward, Susan Sarandon as Evil Queen Narissa and Patrick Dempsey as Giselle's savior after Narissa pushes her into a pit that exits through a manhole in the middle of Times Square.
May's aim was to have Giselle's costumes support her transformation from a cartoon cutout into a woman grounded in reality.
"I was brought in early in the process, when the animators were still developing the characters, so we worked side-by-side. I wanted to make sure I was actually designing the costume because I knew later I would have to produce them, and sometimes animators don't understand gravity.
"Director Kevin Lima wanted to make sure (Adams) looked like an animated character, so I followed the proportions of an animated character. She is really like a little doll and to achieve that with Amy, we had to make the waist look tiny, so the sleeves had to be extremely pouffy and the skirt as big as we could."
COURTESY BUENA VISTA
The bouyant sleeves of a Disney princess was the handiwork of costume designer Mona May, who talked with the Star-Bulletin about the process.
May constructed a metal hoop to hold up 20 layers of petticoats and ruffles, "so when she crawls out of the manhole, that dress explodes in layers in contrast with her flat two-dimensional world."
The dress comprised 200 yards of fabric and weighed 40 pounds. Eleven were made to be accommodate rain, mud and all other evils that would befall Giselle in New York.
Queen Narissa's costume also posed the challenge of being rendered in 2-D, 3-D and in her transformation into a CGI dragon. "I had to deal with three mediums, while making sure everything would seem the same in terms of color, shape and texture," May said.
This meant placing Sarandon in a leather corset with a scaly, silver-leaf finish "to look like beetle skin."
"The corset and skirt shape already looked reptilian, the details of her cape looked like wings, and there were details like horse-hair cuffs, long nails and 6-inch shoes.
"It's still Disney, but it could be high fashion, like something John Galliano or Thierry Mugler might design, so when Narissa walks down the streets of Manhattan, she could be ... strutting, looking hot, looking cool."
By the end of the film, one might expect even more grandeur from Giselle, but the frills disappear with her transformation into a contemporary New Yorker.
May, too, is back in the real world of picking up a few outfits at Macy's while working on wardrobe for "They Came From Upstairs," about kids battling aliens.
"I get to have fun working with teenage fashion again, like I did with 'Clueless,' " she said, though having brought life to the princess fantasy, her dream now would be to work on the set of a futuristic fantasy. "Barbarella" comes to mind. "Oh my god, that would be so great!"