Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Frozen - Costume Design


 When we think about animated films, and specifically costumes in animated films, we tend to identify characters by 1 or 2 signature costumes. Cinderella had her peasant dress and her magical ball gown. Briar Rose had the same, though her ball gown was constantly shifting from pink to blue (to pink!) Alice has her iconic blue dress, and Peter Pan would not be Peter Pan without his feathered cap and tights!

Well, no such beast was Frozen. While we definitely identified "hero" costumes for our lead characters, the narrative required many, many more costume changes than what is typical for an animated film. Between the sheer number of costumes and the complexity of them (we're talking layers of petticoats, pantaloons, tights, gloves, hats, etc) Frozen is probably the most clothed animated film of all time.



 The costumes in this film kind of have a life of their own. Whenever possible, they tell a visual story that supports the narrative. The cut, color and detail work on every piece of clothing is designed the way it is for a reason. Anna begins with a bright yellow palette, and she stays in the warm greens throughout the entire time she is growing up. When you meet her as an adult for the first time, she is back in that yellow - the same tenacious girl you met as a five year old.



Elsa, on the other hand, changes rather drastically.  You meet her in her pale blue nightgown, and her palette gradually gets deeper and darker as she grows up and closes herself off from the world. Her sleeves get longer and she puts on gloves so that her skin is no longer exposed at all. Even her hairstyles evolve to be more tight and binding.



As adults, the girls are still costumed to reinforce their personality. Elsa's coronation gown is regal and restrictive, while Anna's coronation gown has inverted pleats for happy, hopeful twirling. Since the coronation is such a formal event, it seemed only fitting that Anna's hair be in an updo. To keep her playful, though, we added ribbons to her hair so that she could have a lot of great secondary motion. That same idea of added secondary motion on Anna is present in her traveling cape, where we added pompoms to the seams of the heavy wool fabric that (along with her rosemaling) reinforce her playfulness.


The bulk of my contribution to Frozen was definitely in the costume department. I ran the gamut from working on the sisters, clothing the King and Queen, and dressing the royal guard to refining Oaken's fabulous sweater/suspender combo and figuring out what troll clothing looks like   I tell you, I will never look at a lining the same way again!




I really hope that somebody manufactures that sweater for adults - I can see a use for it at many an ugly-but-fabulous-sweater Christmas party in the future.

All images are property of Walt Disney Animation Studios

It was actually a little bittersweet to work on the costuming for this film because I frequently realized that while a lot of these clothes would be made into real-life costumes for children, there was slim to no chance that they would ever be manufactured for adults. Like myself. Anna's boots?! Come on. 

One more Frozen post coming up, and many more updates on the horizon. Thank you again to all who continue to take interest in this little website. Have a wonderful week!

51 comments:

InnuendoPanda said...

I love these posts. Thank you so much for sharing them!

Joanna N said...

Thank you so much for share your work in Frozen, is really interesting and inspiring.

About costumes , maybe you could be interested in make a little search for Frozen cosplays. There are a lot of girls making costumes of Elsa and Anna with great results ^^

Kristen Reeves said...

So interesting! I love reading these. I would love to hear about your art-making process, if ever you are interested to share! :)

Gloria Félix said...

thanks for sharing!
I was dying to see these and I loved to know more about how you worked and the reasons why you made those decisions for the clothing
you are a huge inspiration :)

Janna Bock said...

The work you did on this production is so well done, and just gorgeous! Thank you for sharing =-)

Tegan Clancy said...

wow! so much thought, thank you for sharing

Angela Sandberg said...

Great to see some of the behind the scenes costume work! All that attention to detail makes a big difference!

Heather Holden said...

Love this! The costumes for Frozen are all so fantastic. I can't help but be impressed by the amount of detail that went into them...

Demi Chen said...

Hi Brittney,
Wow, thank you so much for sharing, you're a constant source of inspiration and gaining more insight on your visual storytelling decisions is such a treat!
You can really tell how much thought, care, and love was put into your gorgeous, gorgeous designs.
Thanks again! :D

Caitlyn Dailey's ArtBlog said...

Your 'Frozen' work is lovely! Thank you for sharing such wonderful posts with all of us.

tae86419 said...

Your work is so amazing and really inspiring! Wow so much thought is put into the designs - no wonder why the film is so great.

Joanna Marie said...

Aww!! I love your posts! This must be the most fun job ever. :D

Kathy Z said...


Amazing work, I definitely take interest! Please keep posting :)

Mythical Designs said...

Lovely post. Ignore the person who doesn't have the guts to post with a name.

I did want to say about the cosplays that are happening is pretty cool. As a crafts man in the costuming industry, (masks) I know that the film already inspiring lots of great artisans. Also, I kinda of already own that sweater!

Rebecca Muck said...

Hire a cosplayer. We'll make you some Anna boots. ;D Also. I plan on making many of these for myself as an adult. As a fell costume design, I adore you're attention to detail and small re-inforcements. I wish Tangled could have had your ingenious costume design comments. I haven't seen many for it. :(

Brittney Lee said...

Thank you all for your amazing response! I HAVE seen some incredible cosplay examples that have been inspired by Frozen, and I am just in awe of the diligent attention to detail that these artists have. It is stunning and overwhelming! I will get my boots somehow... :)

Rike A said...

I admire your work and read and look to learn and get inspired. Thank you for sharing your images and thoughts!

Jennie Chancey said...

How fantastic! This was a delightful read, and I've always wondered if costume designers for animated films study the whole aspect of underpinnings (which determine how clothing fits on the outside as they shape the body from the skin out). Beautiful work. My daughters are already begging for clothes from this film, and I'm going to hunt for fabrics and trims to oblige them! ;-)

Joyce Carmo said...

Thanks a lot for sharing all these piece of art and the process behind them. It's really enlightening to hear from the artist in such rich details how the concepts were made.

At each post I become even more dazzled and inspired by your art!

Thanks for the inspiration.

Cheers from Brazil!

Joni said...

I love the rich colors and the girl's hairstyles… There's such a classic/folk feel to these images, while remaining full of life and vibrancy. GAH! Wonderful! ^^
And I second Kristen Reeves' comment! I would love to see a post about your creative process...

Joshua Salmon-Miller said...

Thanks for sharing :D I Love your work

Eva said...

Beautiful! I would LOVE to make an Anna dress and I really appreciate looking at the details. Thanks!

beea said...

thank you soooooooo much for sharing this LOVELY stuffs that you made for frozen, it's REALLY inspiring <333

I really looooove the costume of Anna on the coronation, just one of this amazing costumes that I wish I could have on my wardrobe <333

genim said...

i'm so impressed by your work in this movie. there was definitely so much time put into it and it really shone through! if the crew ever needs to, y'know, scratch that itch not designing clothes gives you,,,, please give me a call

Tiffany Taimoorazy said...

I just stumbled on your blog after looking at some art and animation blogs and I was just wondering if you could give me any tips for an art and animation portfolio? I'm a student at UCLA and I'm applying for an internship at Walt Disney Animation Studios and I've been involved in art for several years but I'm fairly new to the animation and character design part of art. Anything would be great, thanks :)

Martha Balieiro said...

OMG! You catch me with this post, I love Frozen, I love illustration and I love fashion... Oh I forgot I love fashion illustration and do it... o Fantastic post! <3

www.marthabalieiro.blogspot.com.br

sam morgan said...

A expertly Custom Designs is one of the biggest treats for a company; whether it is big or little. It gives them an identification of their own and creates them different from others. I like your costume designing. Thanks for sharing this.

Emily said...

The colors (not to mention patterning) of Oaken's sweater really reminded me of a lot of the colorways used by fiber designer Kaffe Fassett (he's designed knitting patterns, quilt fabrics, and yarn lines).

Especially the ochre paired with the bright turquoise!

http://www.kaffefassett.com/Gallery.html

Sean Evans said...

The shapes work so well for all of these! Very Inspiring post indeed! Thanks!

Joanne Roberts said...

Thanks for this fabulous post! I hope all this appears in the making-of book. Actually saw a white pair of Anna boots by Nine West a few years back, 2 sizes too big. I've searched everywhere, but can't get a pair. Shoulda gotten 'em.

Alyssa B said...

What do you use to make your art? ^.^

Thanh trần said...

I love this movie and your work ! Thank you so much for share them !
I wonder why the little Anna wore the boots but Little Elsa didn't while they were playing together ? (The sisters head into the castle's throne room and create a winter field of snow)
Please tell me known why ?
Thank you !

Jennie said...

It's so great to get some insight into your exciting work.

Mark Fang said...

Thanks for your so nice post.I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it .
Cheap Costumes

debbie MAXWELL said...

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Kim Rogers

Carrie said...

Thank you so much for these posts. I really love your work.The costume design in Frozen is outstanding and as you said, it's the first animated movie with such clothing. I'm agree with you about the fact this costumes wont be done for adults. I wish to have some of Anna's dresses!

~The Damsel~ said...

Hi! I LOVE LOVE this post, and the film is AMAZING! Your art is an inspiration! I linked to this page on my blog, here-
http://adamselinthedress.blogspot.com/2014/03/my-anna-costume.html

Just thought I'd let you know! Thanks!

Pierce Family said...

Thanks so much for sharing!!!

Brittmae said...

Thank you for sharing. I noticed the costuming the first time I saw the movie (I sew-- so I notice the little details...the trim, the fabric draping, he undergarments, etc.) Having seen it countless times now (I have two girls-- 3 and 1...so believe me...it's on repeat) I am still impressed and inspired. Can't wait to see more art design like this is future films, even if it's means significant mom-cosplay for me to outfit my little girl with her "ice dress."

Daniel Lugo said...

Very detailed work, so clean, so nice!

Lururu said...

Hello, your costume designs are amazing! I actually hand made Elsa's ice dress for my daughter Freya (I too am a creative, control freak elder sister..) and I found the process of finding, choosing and then working out how to sew the fabrics challenging but enormous fun! Thank you for making my Freya happy and thank you for such a wonderful costume design ��

mother of three said...

I love the little dress that anna wore, and want to make it for my daughter. Could you described the colors? is the top a dark green? is the shirt botton in the front? I would love to hear from you. Love all of the dresses. I really enjoy the post. Thanks.

mother of three said...

Love, love all of the dresses. Could you tell me if the shirt on anna's dress as a little girl bottons in the front, or the back?

Beatriz Vera said...

I loved your post! Thank you so much for sharing your work in Frozen, that's amazing and inspiring.
When I saw FROZEN in the cinema I thought the character design was gorgeous. Great work!!!

Victoria Williams said...

Wow, I love your style of art! Keep up the good work, and good luck. :)

jasmine said...

The first thing I did after seeing the movie was start looking up boots that could be similar to Anna's! Those things are glorious! If I'm ever rich, I'm having someone make me her boots and her coronation day gown. Gorgeous.

I was wondering if you could shed any light on why Anna goes from wearing greens to wearing pink and blue in her traveling outfit then back to green again. My toddler loves Frozen so we watch it A LOT in our home, and I've gotten quite analytical about the whole thing. Haha!

Anonymous said...

Amazing Frozen design. Frozen is my favorite movie and Elsa is my favorite character. I really like Frozen the snow queen Elsa Cosplay Costume

Anita Alonso said...

I never know that design of such costumes are as simple as you mention. I do appreciate to post this blog post to make designer dresses such easy.

Thanx

Zari Abzalilova said...

wow. This is really epic. OMG.
Btw, where did you study and which department? ;A; i really wonder cuz i can;t choose.

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