It took a little more than bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!
The dresses in Disney’s live-action Cinderella, in theaters Friday, March 13, are some of the dreamiest we’ve ever seen—especially the princess-to-be’s iconic ball gown, the focus of every gorgeous poster, trailer, and, yes, adorable mug.
Although the cornflower blue confection was the star of the Disney animated feature, costume designer Sandy Powell wasn’t convinced it should be the focus of the latest iteration. “I wasn’t given any instruction by Disney on whether or not I should l use it, pay homage to it, or discard it,” Powell exclusively told Us Weekly. “I knew we were making a modern-day version—a new version, a live-action version—so I decided to ignore it.”
Well, at first, at least. But then, after attempting to mentally concoct a pink, white, and yellow version of the statement-making dress, the three-time Oscar winner couldn’t help but land back on the cartoon’s signature cerulean hue. “It’s actually the prettiest color and really flattering!” the designer gushed.
Gorgeous—and giant! Cinderella’s dress boasts countless layers of tulle on the petticoat and no less than four miles of thread. “It’s a clever construction,” Powell revealed to Us. “The whole thing is built over a crinoline cage, which is very lightweight and beautifully made, so that doesn’t actually have that much weight to it at all. All the layers of fabric are light, too, but built on top of each other, which creates the volume.”
Lily James, who plays the fairy tale princess, was just as stunned. “[Lily] said that she felt like she was living out every little girl’s dream. She said that felt like the princess she always wanted to be as a little girl,” said Powell. “That was such a great response to have.”
And for the record: While the shoes seen in the film are actually created via CGI, they are based on Swarovski ones that Powell created first. James couldn’t walk in such delicate creations, so she wore leather shoes that were digitally magicked to look like real glass slippers in post-production.
“I was very aware of the fact that Disney would be recreating the shoes for little girls, and I thought there was no way that they would produce a high heel shoe,” Powell explained. “But if the shoe has a butterfly on top and it sparkles… Well, then, that’s a Cinderella shoe.”
To spot one of the real ones, look to Richard Madden (of Games of Thrones fame), who plays the Prince. In a classic move, as the clock strikes midnight, he picks up Cinderella’s lost shoe on the steps of the castle.
For even more details on the mesmerizing costumes of the film—including why green was the perfect choice for Cate Blanchett‘s evil stepmother—click through to see Powell’s early sketches!
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