This Is What It Takes To Create Cinderella's Fairytale Dresses In Real Life

This Is What It Takes To Create Cinderella's Fairytale Dresses In Real Life
This Is What It Takes To Create Cinderella's Fairytale Dresses In Real Life

Photo: Vanity Fair

Disney’s live-action Cinderella, starring Lily James, Robb Stark (sorry, Richard Maddenn) and Cate Blanchett (in a stroke of genius casting as the evil stepmother), is set to be one of the biggest releases of March. Not just because big-name designers including Jimmy Choo and Charlotte Olympia have re-imagined the famous glass slipper to celebrate the release of the film. But also because the movie’s lavish, extravagant production and costume design already has people talking.

Sandy Powell, a ten-time Oscar-nominee and three-time winner (for Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator and The Young Victoria), was the costume designer tapped by director Kenneth Branagh to bring his epic vision to life. Speaking for the first time about the lavish production to Vanity Fair, Powell revealed some of the secrets behind the movie’s soon-to-be iconic looks.

“I wanted the costumes to be bold and have an explosion of colour as if it were a picture book,” Powell said, “but at the same time, I wanted the clothes to be true to each character and believable.

This Is What It Takes To Create Cinderella's Fairytale Dresses In Real Life
This Is What It Takes To Create Cinderella's Fairytale Dresses In Real Life

Cinderella's wedding dress. Photo: Vanity Fair/Disney

Some of Powell’s creations included Cinderella’s ball gown – a twelve-layered confection that took 18 dressmakers 500 hours to make – matched with eight pairs of Swarovski crystal glass slippers. Nine versions of the gown were made, using more than 270 yards of fabric and 10,000 crystals. “I wanted to make the gown look enormous,” Powell said, “I wanted her to look like she was floating, like a watercolour painting.”

Spoiler’s ahead, but you all know the ending to Cinderella, right? For the cinder girl’s fairytale wedding to her prince, Powell told the American magazine that she wanted to create something “ephemeral… modest and pure.” The gown Powell dreamt up was an ivory-hued silk organza design with long, sheer sleeves and a floral applique. An in-house team of 16 dressmakers hand-stitched the dress together over the course of a month (who needs mice?). Catastrophe was narrowly avoided when James first donned the costume. The British ingénue moved towards a heater and the dress caught fire.

“It was a disaster,” Powell said. “The entire top layer was completely burned… It wasn’t like, ‘Is Lily O.K?’ All we were concerned about was the dress!”

Get excited for the film’s release next month by watching the new trailer, revealed today, below:


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