The Art of the Disney Costume

The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, aka MoPOP is getting ready for the ball so to speak. In cooperation with the Walt Disney Archives, the museum is currently preparing for it’s newest exhibit to open: Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume which will open to the public on June 5, 2021. According to MoPOP, the exhibition “will immerse visitors in the world of Disney films and TV series, illustrating how our understanding of its iconic characters is shaped through the artistry and creativity of its costumes.” This is pretty big news as Seattle is the exhibition’s first stop for its worldwide tour and the first outside of Disney’s annual D23 Expo.

It’s also a pretty big event too with over 70 original pieces spread out among 6,000 feet of museum space. The exhibition is set to explore the vision, process, and craft used to create the costumes worn by mere humans to help create Disney magic. Visitors will see ball gowns, sorcerers’ capes, military uniforms, tiaras, and, of course, glass slippers, from some of Disney’s toughest villains and kindest heroes, many on custom mannequins, as well as photographs and a special film.

“Costuming is an essential element of storytelling and Heroes & Villains exemplifies the richness of character we hope our films portray,” said Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives. “It has been thrilling to collaborate with MoPOP’s curators to bring a selection of the stunning pieces we have at the Walt Disney Archives to Seattle.”

One of the more unique features of the exhibit is the display of different costumes based on the same character including Cruella De Ville (from 101 Dalmatians, 102 Dalmatians and TV’s Once Upon a Time), Cinderella (from the TV movie featuring Brandy, the motion picture featuring Lily James, Into the Woods and Once Upon a Time) and Mary Poppins (from the original film with Julie Andrews and the recent sequel with Emily Blunt).

Exhibition Highlights:

  • Ten Cinderella pieces including ball gowns, tiaras, slippers and other accessories including a gown by Sandy Powell made from more than 270 yards of fabric and adorned with over 10,000 crystals.
  • Maleficent’s dress worn by Angelina Jolie, along with her staff, designed by Anna B. Sheppard.
Five different stages of Cinderella’s glass slipper.
  • Work from 19 different designers, 11 of whom are Oscar® winners and nominees: Colleen Atwood, Jenny Beavan, Jacqueline Durran, Anthony Powell, Sandy Powell, Bill Thomas, Paco Delgado, Gary Jones, Jeffrey Kurland, Judianna Makovsky, and Anna B. Sheppard.
  • The three witches’ dresses from Hocus Pocus worn by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy — all designed by Mary Vogt — plus the vacuum!
Costumes from Hocus Pocus
  • Pirates of the Caribbean  costumes by Penny Rose including Jack Sparrow’s outfit worn by Johnny Depp and Barbossa’s outfit worn by Geoffrey Rush — both of which were made without zippers or Velcro, as Rose wanted the construction to be authentic.
  • The oldest costume on display is Mary Poppins’ traveling dress designed by Bill Thomas and worn by Julie Andrews in the 1964 film. It is paired with the traveling dress designed by Sandy Powell and worn by Emily Blunt in 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns.
  • The newest costumes on display are four pieces from 2019’s Dumbo, designed by Colleen Atwood.
Costumes from Prince of Persia, Enchanted and Cinderella.

Interactive highlights:

  • A “Magic Mirror” inspired by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and designed by MoPOP, allows the visitor to virtually “try on” several of the costumes featured in the exhibition. The mirror uses touchless technology and a depth camera to sense visitors as they approach and show them how they might look as Cinderella, Maleficent, Jack Sparrow, or Mary Poppins.
  • “Getting Into Character” is an interactive projection that allows visitors to explore the materials, colors, textures, and forms that costume designers use to help define a character. Guests “step into” an area where a projector detects their presence and an animated collage of materials, colors, textures, and/or patterns used to define a particular character are displayed along with information explaining the character and costume design.
Virtually try on a costume or two.

Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume will be on display from June 5, 2021 through April 17, 2022 at MoPOP located at 325 5th Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98109. There is a special exhibition fee of $6 in addition to the general museum admission. Tickets can be purchased online right now.

Main Image: MoPOP. All others: Jeffrey Totey

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