The Beauty and the Beast costume designer reveals the secrets behind Emma Watson’s princess gown. Did you feel a lot of pressure designing costumes for something as iconic as Beauty and the Beast? Not really pressure, it was more like excitement – it was such an honour to even be considered. How did you go about creating Belle’s iconic yellow dress? My aim was always to reinterpret the original costumes, flesh them out a bit and give them texture, but the starting point for Belle especially was the animation. We ended up creating a simple dress, because what was most important was the movement of the dress. It was a very soft structure built up with metres and metres of silk organza dyed yellow and cut broadly in a circular shape, so that it emphasised her movement. We also printed gold leaf on to the dress. The costumes are sustainable, right? There is one scene in the film (a montage of her outfits, about halfway through) where all of Belle’s costumes are made from entirely ethical and sustainable sources. We learned how to dye with natural dyes and what kind of threads and trimming to use to make them completely ethically sustainable. The shoes were remade from sustainable leather. What is your favourite costume that you’ve designed? I really liked the way the green dress in Atonement turned out [Durran was Oscar-nominated for her work on the film]. You’ve worked on many period films. Do you prefer that to modern films? Yes. I love doing research and immersing myself in another place and time.
The live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast releases on March 16.