Sure, it’s “a tale as old as time,” but Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” actually turned 30 this year — a full Selena Gomez, for comparison.
So, on Thursday, ABC celebrated with a live action and animated extravaganza directed by “Step Up” and “Crazy Rich Asians” auteur Jon M. Chu, headlined by marquee talent: HER as Belle, Josh Groban as Beast, Shania Twain as Mrs. Potts, Martin Short as Lumiere and more. With clips of the original animation being interspersed with the stage performance, the costumes by Marina Toybina (winner of six Emmys, two of which were for “The Masked Singer”) helped create seamless continuity, while honoring the significance of the 1991 classic to ardent fans.
“The most challenging part is, how do you pay respect to the classics, but at the same time, try to give a [modern] take on the characters?” says Toybina.
With her team, Toybina built around 300 original costumes in just over two and a half months. Ahead, she takes us through the costume highlights.
Belle’s ‘Provincial’ Aesthetic
Toybina meshed 18th-century period authenticity with the vivid animation in our memories to introduce HER’s Belle as she goes about her day in her “provincial town.” She considered and sampled roughly “40 different tones” of organic fabrics, like cotton and linen, to illustrate Belle’s small village origins, before ultimately landing on a vibrant blue and circle-patterned denim for the overall dress, worn over a white puff-sleeve blouses.
The silhouette — with a corset and v-shaped stomach — is period-correct, but Toybina forwent the structural padding under the soft muslin skirt layers. The end result communicates that Bell is a “free spirit and someone who’s unique and stands out from the village,” she says.
“I made it more my own by bringing a little bit of a modern touch as far as adding certain details and trims, like an old-school belt and these worn-out shoes. I wanted there to be a life and a story to the character at the same time, and to make it as accurate [to history, but as] modern as I could.”
Belle’s Wintry Pink Cape and Gown
The castle’s beloved staff-turned-homewares observe “Something There” between the Beast and Belle, who’s changed into a gown and cloak more appropriate for captivity. Memories of her pink, fur-trimmed ensemble from the movie remain just as vivid as the duo’s playful snowball fight.
“I can’t even tell you how many swatches I had of getting us to the right tones,” says Toybina, who is referred to the exact Pantone shades of pink, while again remaining historically accurate to the corseted structure of the gown. “This is where you see an evolution of her wardrobe: There’s a pannier-like foundation underneath the three-layered skirting.”
In connecting all the familiar characters to each other and tracking back to the striking animation, Toybina “focused on significant fabrics — a dupioni and a taffeta to really bring those interesting textures to the show,” she says. Belle’s pink gown is constructed of multiple silk dupioni layers to bring the animated character to life. “But again, changing the design is just enough to make it a little bit more contemporary.”
Toybina modernized the iconic look with a ribboned lace-up detail on the body, ruffle trims on the capelet, tonal color-blocking and on-trend matching gloves.
“I did go with a faux-fur accent on the cape,” she adds.
Belle’s Gilded Yellow Princess Gown
Belle’s yellow finale ball gown remains the most iconic look from the 1991 film, immortalized by princess dolls, Halloween costumes and movie merch. For the 2017 live-action film, Jacqueline Durran even told Fashionista that determining the exact shade of yellow was “really a process.”
Toybina more than agreed, explaining what she was conducting her own forensic analysis of the origin of the iconic shade, asking: “Is it a gold dress? Is it a yellow dress?” She considered the original film and any color-correcting, plus studied angles and shading.
“It was a gold dress that later evolved into a yellow dress,” said Toybina about the results of her research. “It was a mixture of both.”
Scroll to Continue
Ultimately, she decided to “not do a replica” of the original, also to highlight HER’s portrayal of the influential character: “I really wanted that to become her moment, as well.”
Toybina opted for luxurious textiles and techniques, like four types of pleating to create regal volume. “I definitely took it a step forward in the gold elements in the accents — and to make it more now,” she says, noting how she took “a very fashion approach” in designing the gown, also drawing inspiration from contemporary designers such as Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler and Daniel Roseberry’s Schiaparelli.
She also illustrated the fairy tale’s underlying theme of the rose through the design of the gown. “What can I do to make the yellow version of the rose?” she says. “What can I do to create the softness and elegance?” So, she experimented to create a specialty drape that represented rose petals.
“That was my inspiration to finish off the strong show, with a different interpretation of our hero dress,” said Toybina, “turning HER into that love story and [giving her] that happily-ever ending moment with my version of the gown.”
The Enchanted Costumes of Lumière, Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth
When you have triple-threats like Martin Short, Shania Twain and David Alan Grier as singing and emoting castle décor, you just cannot cover their faces with costumes ‚ or so decided Toybina, Chu and producers after many deep discussions.
“I really wanted to let these characters come to life, and you can’t really do that when you’re restricting them,” says Toybina, who studied copious iterations of “Beauty and the Beast” performances, from Broadway to middle-school plays. “I wanted to see what magic was brought forward to these characters in the past.”
Toybina applied techniques learned and developed over her career, which also includes “So You Think You Can Dance” and Katy Perry’s 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show. “Once I saw the casting, I started manipulating the artwork to make sure it was just the right costume for each of our cast,” she says.
For Short’s Lumière, Toybina employed textile pattern-making and fabric manipulation to “create this swirl of a candelabra effect,” as opposed to using a molded structural design. (Though she did use latex builds to attach faux burning candles around decorative arm bands.) She also infuses historically-accurate interior design details, like reflecting the sheen and type of gold from the period.
To coordinate Lumière with Twain’s Mrs. Potts and Grier’s Cogsworth, Toybina created patterns with handmade latex and silicone decals, to emulate elaborate Rococo curves and molding. The intricate golden detailing runs teapot-lid-to-corset-to-porcelain-body-and-spout on Mrs. Potts, as well as on Cogsworth’s gilded headpiece and shoulder panels — “very much inspired by the present and details of what would it look like if you were a teapot and bring this elegance,” says Toybina.
The Not-so-Beastly Prince
“It’s the most unexpected way to represent the Beast,” says Toybina of Groban’s double-portrayal of the Prince-turned-Beast-turned-back-to-Prince.
Let’s just say that Chu and Toybina successfully addressed the age-old controversy of Beast v. the Prince in the forever-jarring finale reveals by having Groban operate and inhabit a 10-foot-tall Beast puppet. “It’s done in the most intricate yet detailed, simplistic and just as brilliant a way possible,” said Toybina, who custom-designed the puppet. (Head fabricator of the Beast team Erik Haskell led the build.)
The audience can see and experience Groban’s facial expressions and body language as the cursed Prince. “By [Groban] being that connected and able to emote through physically puppeteering the Beast, it’s almost feeling like he’s trapped and couldn’t get out,” says Toybina, like he literally “has the weight on the shoulder.”
She coordinated the Prince and Beast throughout via connecting dark-toned colorways and textiles, which also allude to the transformation and character evolution.
“The Prince is still present with us through this entire storyline, and, at the end, all we see is a transformation once through his costume,” said Toybina. This avoids the introduction of a whole new Prince face in the finale, when we’re used to the cuddly Beast at that point: “Because of that, you stay so connected to his character, beginning to end.”
Never miss the latest fashion industry news. Sign up for the Fashionista daily newsletter.