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Cinderella’s Dress Required More Than Mice To Make It

When Kenneth Branagh‘s Cinderella hits the big screen next month, we can look forward to the live action version of one of our favorite animated classics and to the enchanting costumes designed by Sandy Powell for the occasion. Drawing inspiration from the 1950’s and the 19th century, Powell has created gorgeous real-life versions of the gowns we’ve only seen appear as if by magic from tattered and torn frocks. Downton Abbeys Lily James and Game of Thrones‘s Richard Madden fill the stunning clothes beautifully.

Cinderella’s wedding dress will be a simple long-sleeve beige silk organza gown with a floral print that took more than 15 people over 500 hours to complete and was nearly lost to an on-set accident during photography. The goal, according to Powell, was to illustrate the princess-to-be’s good heart and simplicity. “I wanted her to stay modest and pure even though she was going to be a part of royalty,” Powell recently told Vanity Fair.

CINDERELLAvia Vanity Fair

Richard Madden’s royal wedding suit was cut from similar simple inspiration though it adhered more closely to the animated counterpart. The costumers stuck to a similar shape in the shoulders and torso but gave it a 1950’s inspired tailoring so that it was more fitted to the actor’s body and the blue was chosen to accentuate his eyes. The details included gold bullion and crystal-sequenced braids that were handmade.

More than a dozen layers of fine fabric including crepeline silk, printed polyester and iridescent nylon made up the skirt and helped influence its weightless look as she swept through scenes. The actress helped the blue and turquoise fabrics along with a corset and petticoat underneath it all. While there was only one of the ornate wedding dresses pictures above created for the film, there were a total of nine versions of her ball gown that were each made from more than 270 yards of fabric and 10,000 Swarovski crystals. Like the wedding gown, each dress took 18 tailors and 500 hours to complete.  Below is one of Powell’s earlier concept sketches. She began designing for the film more than 2 years ago.

Cinderella ball gownvia Vanity Fair

Powell has managed to design costumes that truly bring the animated movies we’ve been obsessed with since choldhood to life, but thanks to basic earth science, the glass slippers at the center of the story are the one thing that were not created to be worn and danced in like the fairy tale. Because there is no movement possible in a slipper crafted from glass – or in this case crystal for prime sparkle effect – the actress’s leather shoes were made into crystal by special effects department on the film. Despite that movie magic, eight pairs of shoes were crafted from Swarovski crystal for the film. They were inspired by an 1890 shoe Powell saw in an English museum, and are crystal rather than glass because the faceted mineral sparkles more.

This combination of real magical handcrafting and costuming with movie magic and special effects has us itching to see the costumes in action. Cinderella opens March 13th, 2015.

ht Vanity Fair


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  1. Beth says:

    More fashion nerd posts please!!! This got me all hot and bothered. Gonna go look at costume design porn now. 

  2. Laura says:

    “I wanted her to stay modest and pure even though she was going to be a part of royalty…” Awesooooooooome.  Just greeeeeeeaaaaat.