Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My NEW Belle Gold Gown Design

Yesterday, one of my friends sent me the link to a really excellent article discussing Belle's Gold Gown from the new Disney "Beauty and the Beast." I felt that it had a fantastic rundown of why so many people were unsatisfied with the dress that Emma Watson wore, especially in comparison to the general approval (corset aside) of Lily James' Cinderella dress.

I found myself inspired by this blog post to try my hand at my own redesign of Belle's gown, applying the principles discussed in the article.

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I really focused on structured simplicity, and dimensional texture. The largest visible surface of the gown is a smooth, creamy satin. Apart from the skirt gathers and the structure panels, this overgown is quite deceptively simple. In this, I was highly inspired by the simple lines of the infamous Red Gown from "Outlander" (I haven't seen much of the show but the costumes are gorgeous. While the Red Gown had some controversy, I felt that many of the reasons it worked for that show would also make those elements work well for Belle. And I do feel that Belle's gown didn't need to be laden with yards of frills and ruffles, as common for the period.

However, it does need some special princess details and embellishments to add depth. The Cinderella dress did such a lovely job with layering sheer fabrics in the skirt, that I felt a similar approach would work very well for Belle's undergown. The lines of it are simple, but it has several layers of sheer fabrics in shades of yellow, cream, and shimmery gold.

The sleeves were the most difficult part for me. I don't feel that bare arms work either for the weather, or the time period. No woman of good reputation would wear short sleeves in any situation at that time period, even for an evening gown. And in purely practical terms, if the hairy Beast is wearing a full coat and vest, then Belle would be absolutely freezing in that room without sleeves.

However, I've seen a lot of redesigns that put period sleeves on Belle and I never feel that they look quite right for her. This is absolutely because of all the years of seeing her in her anachronistic gold gown from the animated film! So I came up with a design that is a compromise between the two with a fantastical element. Instead of giving Belle gloves, I gave her sheer, metallic net sleeves, with some frilly lace on the shoulders that is reminiscent of both her animated gown, and the frilly lace worn at the elbows on dresses of the period. I felt this created uniquely magical "Belle" sleeves, while still fitting the requirements of time and place.

I know this redesign won't be perfect for everyone, and I may try another design at some point, but for today, I'm pretty psyched with what I came up with.

You can read my further thoughts on the 2017 Disney film here.