Today at D23 Expo 2019, Jeff Kurtti moderated a forum on Behind the Art of Disney Costuming, with panelists Becky Cline, Rick Lorentz, and Robert Maxhimer offering insight to the Heroes & Villains The Art of The Disney Costume display at D23 which their creative undertaking is responsible for. The Behind the Art of Disney Costuming Book is now sold-out at D23, but make sure to pre-order yours!
Historically, D23 exhibits feature a gallery which acts as a “cornerstone and cultural monument of the show floor”, as Kurtti put it. Upon the close of the D23 Expo 2017, Cline was approached with the idea for this year’s 2019 exhibit as a take on heroes and villains. The panel included guests Becky Cline, Rick Lorentz, Robert Maxhimer, and Holly Brobst.
Becky Cline is the director of archives. She is responsible for collecting and preserving key costumes and props, making it available for public consumption via exhibits. Cline said the Disney archive collection began with about a rack of costumes and now, the archives collection nearly takes up an entire warehouse! She has the notion “why collect the stuff if you don’t share it?”
Rick Lorentz curates and installs archive exhibits, as well as collects concept art. He’s always on the lookout for something to archive, something that is iconic, something that when stripped of the actor and out of context of the film lends itself to the character.
Robert Maxhimer is the exhibition manager, overseeing such elements as the flow of the exhibit and logistics of mannequins to exhibit the costumes. He shared insight into the mannequin creation process, stating that stills from films and actor measurements were sent to China, where CNL 3D printers were available to craft mannequins to house the styles mid-action, or posed, to show off the design best.
Holly Brobst is the digital producer. She took the detail photos used in the book and the exhibit designs.
The first part, is the main gallery of the Heroes & Villains The Art of The Disney Costume exhibit showcases four Cinderella gowns. Maxhimer likened this approach as a prologue, an introduction to WHAT costume design is.
Worn by Brandy, Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997)
Design by Ellen Mirojnick
“I knew that I wanted a peplum. I knew I wanted the shape of the shoulder and the bodice to be particular, and I knew I wanted the shape of the big, beautiful skirt. Those were the musts when I started draping it. I remember when she came in and tried it on for the first time, and it was heaven before me. I remember her swirling around like you’d imagine Cinderella would. It was just a magic moment.” – Ellen Mirojnick
Worn by Jessy Schram, Once Upon A Time (2017)
Design by Eduardo Castro
“You have to be true to the iconic Cinderella, for example, the iconic blue was, of course, important – we remained true to the silhouette. We just made it our own a little bit… we developed our own elaborate gown and embroideries.” – Eduardo Castro
Worn by Anna Kendrick, Into the Woods (2014)
Design by Colleen Atwood
“Cinderella’s costume in this came from the original Grimm story… She came of the forest, she was a reluctant princess. She wasn’t dying to wear the biggest dress in the room. She wasn’t sure she should be the princess. I put the blue on the Prince instead and let Cinderella be more like her mother the Willow Tree, so I used willow colors and that was my influence on that. I used gold in her costume because it was a lot of night work and I wanted her to flutter in the woods and look like a butterfly wing when she ran.” – Colleen Atwood
Worn by Lily James, Cinderella (2015)
Design by Sandy Powell
“Not only does she need to dance, but she needs to run away from the ball down a massive staircase. The gown is very cleverly engineered so that even though it’s voluminous, it’s actually very well balanced. The fine layers of fabric worked well here as they floated around her when she moved. I wanted it to look like a water color painting.” – Sandy Powell
The second gallery builds upon the first, with deviations of good vs. evil. With this blueprint alone, it’s astonishing to see just how many iconic pieces can be worked into such a space!
Some iconic pieces include the Hocus Pocus witches.
Other pieces include Mary Poppins through time.
Concept art was also featured as a small gallery wall.
The center displays, featuring a battle of the Queen of Hearts and the White Queen amongst others, are where costume and characters come to life with the fluidity of the mannequins.
Pruitt made observation that these designs were not encased in showcases, which requires a high degree of trust for exhibit-goers. Maxhimer commented, too, that that was considered in building the exhibit and that lending that trust upon exhibit goers creates a space of mutual trust and respect.
The panel talk only lasted an hour, most of which Cline, Lorentz, Maxhimer, and Brobst shared insight into the development of the Heroes & Villains The Art of The Disney Costume display.
I only wish more insight was given into the specifics of how costumes are stores and preserved, how they are fitted for mannequins, and further designer inspiration details. But maybe, hopefully, those details are covered more so in the Behind the Art of Disney Costuming book? I’m pre-ordering mine now. You should, too, fashionistas!
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