The buzz surrounding Cinderella 2015 film to be released next year may have died down ever so slightly, but it doesn’t take away the spectacular affair it has and will continue to create. As far as fairy tales go, reinventing classical Disney films has become a masterpiece in itself with costume design a major part of its reinvention; an art.
Sandy Powell an Oscar-winning costume designer has joined the ranks of the new Cinderella film due to be released March 2015. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Lily James (aka Lady Rose of Downton Abbey) stars as the ultimate girl’s fantasy fairy tale princess. Sandy Powell’s creations are mesmerising as though fairy tales are timeless and enduring, Powell has recreated the 19th century with flamboyant costumes mirroring the 1940’s or 50’s. The wicked stepsisters sport the yellow and pinks of the 1950s sorority sisters with over exaggerated costumes which are in the words of Powell ‘totally ridiculous on the outside – a bit too much and overdone – and ugly on the inside.’
Most envisage Cinderella in her blue rags, poor and bullied by her stepmother and sisters. Powell has reinvented Cinderella’s identity. Powell’s Cinderella has a beautiful and extravagant dress that is glorious and rich in detail and will end up looking faded, tired and worn out. Kenneth Branagh, an established actor, director and producer will work alongside Powell with a mysterious alchemy; a marriage between clothing, character and the director’s vision. When I heard about the making of the film, I was immediately so excited to see the trailer. The official trailer was released 19 November and has already had over one million views on YouTube. Not only am I a fan of Downton Abbey, but of Richard Madden, aka Robb Stark in the world famous Game of Thrones. With a handsome, rugged and charming look, no doubt he will live up to his expected role of Prince Charming. Not only can we be sure that he will win the heart of Cinderella, he will most certainly captivate the hearts of his audience.
Cinderella has both new and well established actors featuring Cate Blanchett as Cinderella’s evil stepmother. Powell has admitted that ‘the bad guy is always the most fun to dress and the good, kind person is always the most challenging’. Powell has worked with Blanchett in three films and Blanchett has learnt the art of costume design when preparing for a film describing Powell’s work inviting ‘grace, chutzpah and irreverence and one’s performance must rise to the occasion’.
Anyone who knows me well will know period dramas and films are most definitely my favourite. The costumes of Powell’s Oscar winning films Shakespeare in Love and the Young Victoria are nothing short of spectacular. The costumes beautify the period of its time and Powell’s skills combine her deep knowledge of historical dress with her perspective as an artist. Powell grew up in Brixton having been surrounded by a deep intensity of vibrant colours associated with the large West Indian communities. Powell often found fabrics in local shops with much of her findings making their way into her work. Cinderella would not be complete without her magical raiment that is courtesy of her fairy godmother played by Helena Bonham Carter. The dress does not fall short of expectations and what is produced is a demure, feminine and sexy cerulean gown with a voluminous skirt. Layers upon layers of gossamer-fine silk in different shades of pale blue, turquoise and lavender add richness to Cinderella’s character. When Lily James tried the dress on for the first time, she felt ‘empowered and scared’, two opposing feelings but using the fear the dress empowered her with enabled James to show how Cinderella felt at that moment when she was granted permission to attend the royal ball.
It cannot be overlooked that Cinderella’s signature slipper is part of the phenomenon. Powell has worked with Swarovski to develop the glass slipper made entirely of crystals. Powell’s slipper is based upon a shoe she found in a museum in Northampton from the 1890s. It had a five-inch heel and no platform making it incredibly difficult to walk in. Who needs practicality when it comes to a glass slipper – clearly it has become the ultimate shoe fetish.
March 2015 is not as far away as it seems and I know I cannot wait to see this film; anticipated to be one of the most exciting new films to hit our screens next year.
Photographs by kind permission of Walt Disney Pictures, Cinderella 2015.