18th-Century Costume Influences in Beauty and the Beast

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Okay kids, I wasn’t even going to SEE the live-action Beauty and the Beast (2017) — the 1991 animated film is probably my least favorite of the Disney princess movies, and I’ve got enough truly historical stuff on my plate to worry about. But then friends were telling me that the costume designers were claiming that the costumes were strict 18th-century reproductions (I checked, they actually just claim inspiration — see for example this interview at Fashionista with costume designer Jacqueline Durran of Anna Karenina, 2012, and Pride & Prejudice, 2005, fame), and other friends wanted to see it, and I ended up in a theater with Linda and a huge bag of popcorn. And I relatively enjoyed the movie! And color me shocked, while of course the costumes were definitely fantasy-ized, there were real 18th-century historical references coming right and left! So I decided to break down those influences, in particular for readers who might not be as familiar with 18th-century costume.

Beauty and the Beast: 18th-Century Portrait Inspiration

First of all, I was seriously impressed at both the quality of this painting of the Beast as a child with his parents — OMG IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE IT WAS A PAINT-BY-NUMBERS KIT! But I immediately recognized the dress and pose worn by Mom as that of French queen Marie Leszczyńska (reigned 1725-68).

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Not shitty!

Here’s the model for maman: Marie Leszczinska, Queen of France (1703-1768) by Charles-André van Loo, 1747, Palace of Versailles

 

Beauty and the Beast: Upper-Class Costumes

I was totally enchanted by the opening flashback scene, which shows the Beast (Dan Stephens of Downton Abbey) back when he was a human prince, living it up at a fabulous party and not caring much about the little people.

Menswear

So the makeup is fantasy, but this suit and wig are about 90% straight outta 1760s France:

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Take away the sequins or what-have-you on the sleeve, and tweak some details on that wig, and you’re in business.

Compare him with this detail from La Famille du duc de Penthièvre en 1768 ou La Tasse de Chocolat by
Jean-Baptiste Charpentier the Elder, 1768, Palace of Versailles.

 

Robe à la Française

Again, there are a few tweaks (particularly in the wigs) for fantasy effect, but the ladies at the flashback party are ALL wearing the robe à la française, the most popular dress style in France from the 1740s through the 1760s.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

That long, pleated, airy back (for 18th-century nerds, note that they got the stitched-down portion of the pleats correct!); plus the paniers (side hoops)…

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Three-quarter sleeves with engageantes (elbow ruffles), dress front open over a stomacher (bodice fill-in) and petticoat (underskirt)…

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Even the trimming…

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Same with Madame Garderobe (right)…

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

She’s wearing the exact same style dress.

All of these gowns are spot on for a 1760 to ’70s-style robe à la française:

Maria Teresa di Savoia is wearing a robe à la française in this portrait by Lié Louis Périn-Salbreux, 1776, Musée Cognac-Jay.

Here’s a front and back shot of a Robe à la Française (missing its stomacher and petticoat), 1765-70, French, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And when Madame Garderobe tries to dress up Belle all fancy, yes she goes crazy, but under the crazy is essentially the same silhouette with paniers (side hoops):

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

 

Beauty and the Beast: Middle-Class Costumes

Mostly I just want to point out that Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) is wearing a more middle-class appropriate gown of the same style, and her hair and cap are very early 18th century:

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The high cap/headdress is called the “fontange.” Detail from Dame de Qualité en Echarpe, Bernard Picart, 1706, Rijksmuseum.

 

Beauty and the Beast: Lower-Class Costumes

Soft Corsets

A lot of fuss was made by Emma Watson and the media over the fact that she insisted that Belle not wear corsets. Instead, she wore softly supportive bodices that gave her a natural silhouette:

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The main issue I had with these was the weird layering, with an underlayer bodice front and then an overlayer, both of which laced up on one side. It made everything angled weirdly and made Watson look lumpy and unbalanced.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I really think it’s caused by the downward angle on the neckline, which in part seems to be caused by unsupported lacing that is gathering up a bit…

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Just not flattering! Why? I stared at it through the whole movie.

All of her bodices were cut that way, even, apparently, whatever she was wearing under the yellow gown:

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Belle’s soft corset worn under The Yellow Dress.

While the details are a little funky, YES they wore soft, unboned corsets in the 18th century — particularly in the provinces or lower down the class structure. In France, the boned corset was called the “corps” (body) or “corps à baleiné” (boned body), while the unboned corset was called just that, a “corset” (“jumps” in England during the same period).

This relatively well-off woman wearing regional clothing specific to Arles (southern France) is wearing a white, quilted “corset” under her jacket and scarf. Portrait de jeune fille en ancien costume d’Arles by Antoine Raspal, 1779, Musée Granet.

 

Jackets and Petticoats

Belle, and many of the villagers, are shown wearing 18th-century style jackets and petticoats — exactly the kind of thing lower- and middling-class women wore for everyday.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I’ve never seen one in mix-and-match fabrics, like Belle is wearing, but you DO see that on linings, as people would use scraps and bits cannibalized from old clothes.

These kind of jackets started as regional (i.e., non-Parisian) styles, as shown by this “cook newly arrived [in Paris] from the country.” Cuisiniere nouvellement arrivée de Province et qui commence à prendre les airs élégants de Paris, Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Français. 8e. Cahier des Costumes français. 2e Suite d’Habillemens de Femmes à la mode. 1778. Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

They ended up becoming fashionable for the upper classes, like this Caraco, 1785-90, Palais Galliéra.

Caps

There’s a wide range of caps shown, and many of them look right out of late 18th-century images of working women.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Beauty and the Beast (2017) Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Compare those from the film to these caps worn in images of provincial Frenchwomen, 18th century.

There are a LOT of these sticky-uppy style of caps, particularly on comic-relief characters:

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

She’s the town shrew.

You certainly see high-puff-on-top caps in modern-day Provençal regional costumes — I haven’t yet figured out which era this dates from, anyone know?

Coiffe provençal comtadine, via http://www.wikiwand.com/fr/Costume_proven%C3%A7al

Pockets

In the 18th century (and before and after!), women generally wore “pockets” which were separate from their skirts/other clothes. They tied around your waist with a ribbon, and fit tons of stuff:

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Those 2 trapezoidal things are hanging pockets — the white one is bigger than the red one. The slit at the top is to stick your hand in.

Pockets in the 18th century were usually worn under the skirts; the costume designer changed this deliberately: “So her pockets, for instance, are an 18th-century thing. It’s just that people didn’t wear them outside like she does. They wore them inside the dress, hidden. But we just put them on the outside [like a tool belt] to look extra useful” (How the’Beauty and the Beast’ Costume Designer Worked With Emma Watson to Bring a ‘Modern, Emancipated’ Belle to Life). However, you can occasionally find images from the period where hanging pockets are showing:

Like this working class woman: London Cries: “Black Heart Cherries…” c. 1759, British Museum.

 

Beauty and the Beast: Provençal Influence

What particularly impressed me was the number of references to late 18th-century Provençal costume. Someone clearly spent some time doing their research!

Provençal (Indian) Fabrics

First of all, there were TONS of fabrics used that are what we would today call “Provençal” style. In the period, these were cotton prints that either came from India or were made in Europe in imitation of the Indian fabrics. Many of those that were imported came into France via Marseille, so southern France was one of the first regions to adopt these styles, and they quickly became typical of the region — so much so that we today think of them as originating there.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

This bodice fabric looks straight from Ikea (always wondered why Ikea carries reproduction 18th-century prints? Because they work with a French textile museum to mine their collection of historic designs!).

Compare that print to this fabric used for a Dress c. 1780 — the fabric made in India, but for a European market. Victoria & Albert Museum.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Compare the fabric lining Belle’s cape…

…with the cotton used in this Robe à l’anglaise, 1790-95, Kyoto Costume Institute.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

So while “bloomers” or drawers or any kind of pant-like undies didn’t exist yet for women (they came in during the first half of the 19th century), the print on them is very 18th century…

Like the print used for this European woman’s Turkish caftan. Detail from Portrait of the artist’s wife, Marie Fargues (ca.1718-1784), in Turkish dress by Jean-Étienne Liotard, 1756-8, Rijksmuseum.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

And this yellow print…

…reminds me of the English-produced fabric used in this Dress, 1780-85, Victoria & Albert Museum.

 

Provençal Jackets

Okay, and here’s where I nerd the fuck out: I spotted multiple extras amongst the villagers wearing a 1770s-80s style of jacket worn specifically in Arles (a town in southern France) called the “droulet.” I’ve done a bunch of research on this style, and it’s NOT something I’ve EVER seen on screen before, and they would have REALLY had to have done their research to come across it. Yeah. I’m impressed.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

While I spotted a ton of these styles on screen, this is the only one I have been able to find in an online clip to screencap. So bear with and focus on the solid red outermost layer she’s wearing…

Here’s what they’ve copied, a jacket specific to this one town in southern France. Here you can see the front and interior of the back: Droulet, c. 1790, Museon Arlaten.

And here’s the back of another: Droulet, c. 1780, Museon Arlaten.

These Arlésienne seamstresses are all wearing the droulet. Notice how you can only see the white sleeves of the jacket on the woman on the far right, then look at the woman reaching for the hanging dress and see how her black jacket cuts away to the back. The Couturiers Workshop by Antoine Raspal, c.1785, Musée Réattu.

 

Provençal Headwear

These sticky-uppy bows may just be a typical Disney thing (they seem very Cinderella’s step-sisters to me), but you do see a similar style of lace bow worn as “traditional costume” in turn-of-the-century Arles.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Maybe these white bows…

…were inspired by caps like the one worn by this turn of the century Arlésienne? The sticky-uppy bits are “banettes” or “cornettes” (I’m not sure which term is correct!). I can’t find an attribution for this image.

 

Beauty and the Beast: What WASN’T 18th-Century Inspired?

Okay, so it’s a fantasy movie and they can take their inspiration where they will. They clearly felt obliged to keep Belle’s ball gown along the lines of what was worn in the animated film, to which I ask, WHYYYYYYYYYY? What they came up with was the most boring bridesmaid’s dress EVER.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

And the 1950s ballerina silhouette with 1960s floral-print dress Belle wears in the final party scene. Ain’t nothing 18th century about it.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

 

What did you think of the 18th-century costume inspirations in Beauty and the Beast?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

54 Responses

  1. Pina

    Yayy! Thank you for doing this film! I surprisingly quite enjoyed this version of the Beauty and the Beast, and I hadn’t even seen the original animated version. I thought all of Belle’s everyday clothes were super pretty. I thought the yellow ballgown would have benefited from some sleeves and some more decoration around the chest area. Again, I know next to nothing about historical fashion apart aside from what I read on this blog, but I think stripping down historical costumes from period-appropriate decorations is a tactic employed by costume designers to convey to the audience think the hero/heroine is more “modern” and relatable than others, right? It makes me think of Demelza’s yellow ballgown in Poldark. It looked great on Eleanor Tomlinson, but I thought it looked (at least from waist up) exactly like something I could attend a cocktail in. I thought an actual 1780s dress would at least have some lace or something. Ditto for Belle’s dress.

    Reply
    • Pina

      Oops, it seems some words I meant to delete didn’t get deleted. Sorry!

      Reply
    • Kendra

      Agreed, definitely I think costume designers use stripped-down costumes to make characters seem more modern. Granted, I prefer 18th century costumes to just about any other style, but I think they missed the opportunity to 18th century-ify Belle’s yellow dress! Since they didn’t, sparkly organza or no, it just seemed like Yet Another Bridesmaid Dress.

      Reply
      • Joe

        But I actually think they did kind of 18th century-fy her yellow ball gown. Maybe the sleeves would be missing but apart from that it was very well done in my opinion

        Reply
  2. Nzie

    I’m so glad you saw this! I watched and, while I’m nowhere near your level of expertise or detail, I was sitting going, “That… looks largely right!” One thing did irk me constantly that maybe you can help me with: wtf was with Belle hiking her skirt up into her belt on one side? Someone suggested it was for riding but she did that a lot when she wasn’t riding and it exposed her undergarments quite a bit. Are you aware if that’s something people actually did? It drove me to distraction every time.

    Reply
    • Pina

      I’m not an expert either, and I have no idea if 18th century French women ever did tucked their skirts in like that, but the idea seemed familiar to me because I think that’s something Ottoman women would sometimes do. (Be warned, though, I’m not an expert on Ottoman clothing either.) I can’t specify period, but a style of caftan called “üç etek” (literally “three skirts”) was popular in many regions, which was like a long jacket with a three-part tail. Often they would tuck the two rear parts of the tail in their belts, to enable freer movement. Of course what they wore underneath was the şalvar (shalwar), which wasn’t considered an undergarment as far as I know.

      Reply
    • jesslyncs

      Well, most village women (which Belle is) did hitch their skirts up to keep mud out of the streets. This culminated in the robe a la polonaise, which was hitched up too. I think it was supposed to mimic that.

      Reply
    • Kendra

      You certainly see women tuck up skirts for manual labor all the way back to the medieval era. I’m sure they were doing it to make Belle seem extra practical, but from a historical perspective, she wasn’t doing the kinds of things that would warrant skirt-tucking.

      Reply
      • Nzie

        That’s why it bothered me. If she’d been doing physical work at the time I don’t think it would have bothered me. But mostly I was just like, “she’s walking around with undergarments visible for no reason.” But I probably can get over it, especially in light of all the lovely costumes.

        Reply
    • realedinlady

      But yes… I absolutely hated the yellow dress and the final dress stuck out like a sore thumb (although I would like it in another context). Belle’s dancing dress from the cartoon was part of the inspiration from my wedding dress (more Vivienne Westwood than 18th century) and even that would have looked better.

      Reply
  3. Susan Pola

    I’m waiting for the DVD as I cannot stand the super loud movie theatre volumes. The gold gown from the pic is a disappointment, though.

    Reply
  4. Amanda

    Yay! So glad you did a piece on everything in this movie that looked good; I was curious to see what you ladies thought of the costumes! Well, the costumes-minus-Belle’s, anyway. I have, erm, strong feelings about those. (Like, Snark Week feelings. EAR WIRE, WHY.) How cool is the inclusion of the droulet! Not a garment I was familiar with, but I love touches like that that show somebody really Knew Their Stuff, and did a wonderful job of mixing historical garments with the knowledge that they’re still presenting a fairy-tale.

    Reply
  5. Edward Murphy

    I think the thing that upsets me about the gold gown is that I know Jacqueline Durran can do better, I mean look at the white gown from Anna Karenina, that would have been such an utterly perfect gown for Belle, if you just added some 3 quarter sleeves and made the back into more of a polonaise. I do think both dresses suffer from Watson’s insistence on Belle not wearing proper stays.

    Reply
    • Nzie

      I was discussing this on a thread on Facebook and from what people were saying, it seems like they kind of went along with Emma Watson on a few things. As much as I like Emma Watson as an actress and a person, her ideas of what costumes should be shouldn’t supplant the costume designer’s—especially where we clearly have one who is very talented. That said I think too the Disney look of Belle from the original was probably also a constraint. They changed quite a lot otherwise but kept Belle’s main looks the same.

      Reply
  6. Karen K.

    I mostly loved the costumes but that yellow ball gown is a real needle scratch for me — especially contrasted with Dan Steven’s fancy traditional costume, especially his high-heeled shoes! It was rather jarring though overall I loved the movie.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Yes, in addition to just being boring (to me), the yellow dress was so different compared to everything else in the movie!

      Reply
  7. slowseptember

    I knew I’d been spending a lot of time on this website when the opening ball started and I gasped “robes à la française!”

    Reply
    • Cristina Baker

      I did the exact same thing! Belle has always and will always be my favorite princess. I connected with her when I was young because well she was the only one that looked like me (brown hair hazel eyes) and she was a book nerd! I went to go see it with my equally Belle obsessed best friend and when the first scene started all I could think was “Omg robes a la francaise! Frock flicks is gonna love this!” Lol and I absolutely almost shrieked in happiness when I saw Dan in his costume especially the heels!

      I was irked by the “let me expose my underwear” thing though I get that they were trying to make her seem more practical and stand out.

      I was underwhelmed with the yellow dress, especially when I tried on the version Torrid sells and got to the see the details more up close, it’s very plain and boring to me compared to what they could’ve done and indeed compared to the animated version. Also I didn’t notice the ear wire until.i saw it for sale and had to go back and look at images to see where she wore it.

      I absolutely HATE the wedding dress, especially since it looked so weird and anachronistic next that AMAZING costume on Dan.

      Reply
    • Iseabail

      Hahaha! For myself, I pointed my figer out in the theatre and went “Pockets!! She has pockets!” to my boyfriend…

      Reply
    • Lynn S

      Probably the main reason she eschewed corsets! God forbid either she or Kiera Knightly have to learn how to stand up straight!

      Reply
  8. Charity

    The opening scene was absolutely gorgeous; I think the entire row heard me gasp with delight over the French costuming. (I mourned that the entire thing wasn’t Georgian-specific.) I thought the costumes overall were fabulous on all the extras, but I agree with you that Belle’s wardrobe was not that flattering or particularly radiant. The golden dress was … well, underwhelming. And while I thought the ending scene gown was GORGEOUS, it was sooo not period. Ah well. Dan Stevens in that utterly breathtaking blue coat made up for it. RAWR. ;)

    Reply
  9. Gasparde

    Hello ! I’m French, and I’m originating from the Arles area, and I was part of a folkloric group when I was a teen. So if you need more information about the Provencal traditional dress, shoot !
    The headgear you shown is called “Coiffure en cravate”, and “bannettes” and “cornettes” are both right. They should look like tiny rabbit ears. This costume and hair is traditionally worn by young girls up to 15, or by young women at work. More formal occasions required the “Coiffure au ruban”. (I longed to be allowed to get my first velvet ribbon !). For the sake of curiosity, you can see the “Coiffure au ruban” here : http://www.pichoto-camargo.fr/notre-culture/costumes-et-coiffes/les-coiffures/le-ruban/

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Cool, thanks!! Do you have any idea when the “coiffure en cravate” (is that the poufy cap?) dates from originally?

      Reply
      • Daniel C

        I’ve often read that most regional French costumes and “coiffes” originated in the very late 18th c. but are mostly, in their final form, from the 1820s-1840s max. By the 1880s they were pretty much out of style in the provinces and were replaced slowly by parisian fashions. However the taste for regionalism and tthe fact they were becoming something of the past made them popular for weddings and local celebrations. As such, they were worn for those occasions until the 1920s but became a self-conscious tradition.
        Happy to see provençal costumes here ( I’m provençal from my father’s side :) ).

        Reply
        • Kendra

          Nodding — those high-pouf caps just FEEL 1820s to me, but I have nothing to base that on! Yes, they absolutely became a self-conscious tradition. I’ve seen a lot of Provençal costumes (being worn today for festivals) that are spot-on recreations of late 18th century through early 20th century dress, but a lot of “regional costume” was created in order to be charming.

          Reply
          • Gasparde

            As Daniel said, regarding the “Arlésienne” (different from the “Costume Comtadin, the other provençal costume), it was fixed in the late 19th century by Frederic Mistral, a poet who promoted the Provençal identity. They were still worn on Sundays and for special occasions till 1920-30.
            And the cap is not really pouffy : it is set and pinned (so much pins…) on a bun (or a fake bun if your hair is too short), and then tied to show the “banettes”.

            Reply
  10. Brandy Loutherback

    I’d wondered if bloomers were at all 18th century! I loved the 18th century pockets! The yellow dress was ho hum, but the golden appliques made it pretty. I was very iffy on Emma’s insistence that Belle not wear a corset, after all Catriona Balfe wore a corset or Stays as they were called back then, and she was still active! Yeah the 50s ballerina dress was kind of out of place. Were the boots in any way 18th century?

    Reply
  11. ladyaquanine73551

    My feelings about this movie are mixed, mostly due to the fact that the animated Disney film is my favorite (took me years to finally decide between all the cartoon versions). I was happy to go see it on opening day, and loved both the sets and the costumes, but there were some things I didn’t like about the film, though it’s mostly little things.

    You’re right about the dress. I was disappointed at its style and construction. In some circles, it’s a beautiful design; but for Belle, it’s just plain boring compared to the one she wore in the cartoon. The least they could have done was give her elbow-length gloves and make the skirt a bit poofier. I also kept wondering why she continued to wear “peasant” clothing after settling into the castle, when she’s got a wardrobe fit for a princess to wear. I didn’t really think the songs were necessary, considering we already had a musical, and this version almost felt like a cut-and-paste remake.

    My biggest complaint is the fact that the movie lacked the emotional impact the animated film had. Belle and the Beast felt way too cool towards each other, rather than actually showing they liked each other. The ballroom scene in particular felt flat and empty, despite the dancing and gorgeous costumes. The transformation scene did nothing for me compared to the cartoon.

    I also thought it was stupid how Belle ran off in her BALLGOWN to the village to save her dad, whereas in the cartoon, she put her village dress back on first. Plus, the Beast has a magical book that could teleport her to the village! Why the hell didn’t she use that?! She looked ridiculous running about in her underwear in the middle of the magical WINTER at the castle during the big battle.

    I could speak more about this, but I’ll save it for my own website.

    Overall, I’m okay with the live-action Beauty and the Beast film, but I still love the animated one better.

    Reply
  12. Trystan L. Bass

    If Belle’s peasanty outfit just had lacing on both sides, the fit would be a million times better. Or center-front or center-back lacing. A soft bodice doesn’t work with off-centered lacing — that’s fitting 101, ppl.

    Reply
  13. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    The funny thing is that Tom & Lorenzo had the same issued with the yellow dress and the ballerina dress. Apparently, those two were heavily designed by Emma Watson herself and the costume department had to try and make her crazy ass designs work. Which is why after such a focus on proper costuming with a Disney slant the dresses did not match the rest of the film.

    Reply
  14. Rab

    What ?! No love for Matthews wig at the end? I agree about Emma’s lack of support as a costume builder- it really is possible to build a corset that supports and is comfortable- but I loved the fabric patterns in the opening!

    Reply
  15. Jennifer Moore

    When the prince is better dressed than the princess in your princess movie you’re doing it wrong.

    Reply
    • ladyaquanine73551

      Considering who the director was, I’m not surprised. From what I hear, he’s a bitter, resentful whiner. The might might have been better if he weren’t at the helm.

      Reply
  16. mehkko

    While I appreciate that boning in corsets is more historically accurate, and that’s why most of us read this blog, they were a real form of physical oppression that women suffered under. You would never insist that a Chinese actress has her feet bound for a movie for historical accuracy, nor should we expect a woman to limit her breathing capacity in order to look more like she’s from a time when women were essentially the property of men, especially when acting in a fantasy film.

    As to the yellow dress, I too was disappointed when she first walked out in it. It’s fairly boring, but I will say that it moved deliciously when she danced. It was a delight to see float through the air.

    Reply
    • Fran in NYC

      That corsets are necessarily physically oppressive is a simplification of the issue. If you ask re-enactors or people who make historical clothing, they will say it is an issue of fit, how well the corset is fitted to the body. We have to remember that most women went about their physical lives wearing some type of corset and had no trouble doing their jobs. A properly fitted corset doesn’t limit breathing capacity. See the videos from Prior Attire on Youtube to see what I mean.

      I don’t wear such things but I read about such things, as someone with an interest in historical dress.

      Reply
    • Lady Hermina De Pagan

      As a historical reenactor in the SCA, Golden Age of Piracy, and Dickens communities I have worn/owned dozens of different types and styles of corsets/bodies/bodices over the years. I can say with full confidence that the most restrictive and breath reducing corseting is the middle to high Victorian. The middle/Upper class pigeon breast shape was very restricting and the tight or lock lacing trend was designed to make the women too fragile to do the heavy work required of the lower classes. Earlier style corsets or bodies depending on the era were actually not as restrictive. First they were designed to be more practical and were there more to reduce the stress on your fine outer clothing then to push your ribs around. Second they are NOT steel boned or whale ivory boned which was done in the Victorian era. Most earlier bodies were boned with reeds, stiffened rope, wooden busks, and I have even read about stiffened leather boning. all of these will bend and mold to your body and act like a back brace, allowing you to lift and stand for long period without stress on your spine.
      So, If Emma Watson wore a proper 18th century corset with reeds or corded boning, she would actually felt better during production then she did. Hell I have put up and taken down several tents, scrubbed pots and cooked a grand feast for 100 in a corded corset and was fine.

      Reply
  17. Sarah

    I spent most of the movie being distracted by the little bows on the bodice of her peasant dresses – why???i

    Reply
  18. Alexa Levin

    For the wonky cap, all I can assume is that they were taking the style of Bretagne/Brittany in the north (also slightly annoying since everything else pointed to Provencal/southern). This is the tame version:
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GtGil9h_UPk/T1UV4CevI1I/AAAAAAAADYo/5lxvqWAWnWE/s1600/Image6.jpg
    And this is the hilariously tall version:
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3UMAB7aoA68/T1UUddJobqI/AAAAAAAADYQ/-oXctMH6NtQ/s1600/Image12.jpg
    Both actually worn in different northern regions of France as ceremonial/traditional dress.

    Reply
  19. Elisa

    The reason IKEA makes 18th century reproduction fabrics is because they had a line of Gustavian (the Swedish version of Rococo) furnitures in the 1990’s. The fabrics proved very popular, so they continued, even after the furniture line was discontinued. And as Sweden had a large and thriving cotton printing industry in the 18th century, there are a lot of original samples around to pick and choose from. :)

    Reply
  20. Daphne

    Ecstatic that you did this review! Ever since I saw this movie I’ve hoped you would do one. I think the costumes are absolutely marvelous and if the costumes in that first scene don’t deserve an Oscar then I don’t know what does. Not to mention Prince Adam’s blue outfit at the end of the movie. Absolutely mesmerising! I at first did not like Belle’s gold dress at all, but it has grown on me and now I absolutely love it. I think it is gorgeous, even if it’s not accurate. I also think Emma pulled off that wig that Madame de Garderobe puts on her, so I really would’ve loved to see her in a more period accurate dress. However, I read an interview with costume designer Jaqueline Durran where she said that she sketched designs for a more historically accurate dress for Belle, but that the studio turned the idea down. A bit of shame. You can still see some images of Belle in 18th century clothing in the concept art for the film. Overall I loved the film, and am extremely happy they decided to be inspired by real 18th century fashion. It’s a beautiful film, if you ask me!

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  21. red*razors

    The high point of my costume nerdistry was recognising the Duran Textiles fabric on one of the dresses in the final ensemble dance scene.
    Overall I really liked the costumes, they looked pretty genuine if Disneyfied a little. The yellow dress was soooo underwhelming! I thought the film itslef was fine but my main take was, I much preferred the live action Cinderella.

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  22. Susan Pola Staples

    Finally saw it as our library got in the Blu-ray. I really liked the movie, but not Belle’s yellow or ending dresses and I loved the animated one. I will say they moved beautifully as Emma Watson danced in them.

    I loved the opening costumes and the Prince’s as the Beast.

    Emma Watson is a talented actress but should stick to acting not costume design. Did she even try wearing a proper correctly laced corset?

    I was surprised how well they all sang. Well Miss Watson sang as Gaston and LeFou came from musical theatre. Even Kevin Kline and Emma Thompson have sung before.

    Two of my favourite secondary characters were Madame de Garderobe played by the awesome Audra McDowell and Plumette played by Gugu Mbatha-Rau.

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