COSTUME DESIGNER ELLEN MIROJNICK BREAKS DOWN THE COSTUMES OF DISNEY’S MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL FOR US
By Candice Chua
She also reveals her favourites from the movie and what it was like collaborating with Angelina Jolie.
Maleficent’s back with a vengeance – and a whole new wardrobe of incredible looks. To get you excited for Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, we chatted with Emmy Award-winning costume designer Ellen Mirojnick about the looks she designed for Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the new film.
As a costume designer, what drew you to Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil?
I love the story of Maleficent. I love the origins of the Sleeping Beauty story. I thought that it would be exciting to work on a continuing story. It’s five years later from the first movie, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
How has Maleficent’s look evolved since we last saw her and how does that reflect her story so far?
The biggest part of her evolution is that her wings are restored. That absolutely informs the way that she looks. Her wings enable her to take great flight. How we work in terms of the design, given that she has wings, is that all of the costumes that Maleficent wears have great fluidity. She doesn’t wear garments made of leather or velvet, because leather and velvet don’t fly. There’s nothing heavy. It’s all made of fabrics that are light and airy.
How did working with Angelina Jolie help create the looks for Maleficent?
Angelina is a great collaborator to work with, because she has a great understanding of the character. She has a great sense of who the character is, what she has to do and where she has to go. Angelina also has such an amazing sense of design, and with that, she brings so much information and so much knowledge to the table. That back-and-forth of how she sees things then becomes very articulate, and it became very inviting for us to work together to create the next chapter for Maleficent.
Now, we have to talk about Maleficent’s stunning black dress that appears during a battle scene in the film. How did that come about?
That’s her battle uniform, and it comes as a result of her learning where she comes from and who she is. We learn that she comes from the forest and she comes from a tribe of winged, horned fey. The character design for the dark fey was influenced by early tribes of different regions, where the battle gear of these tribespeople were themselves. They didn’t wear armour, but instead painted their bodies. That was the inspiration for Maleficent’s battle look, and we hoped to create a design that would best tell the story of where she came from, and that with that dress, she was being true to herself and her tribe.
Let’s talk about Aurora’s looks.
Aurora is now Queen of the Moors. It was important for us to create a look for her that was somewhat fantasy-like, something that the fairies would make. We created this amazing embroidery of leaves and little flowers, all made with this “Aurora blue” thread. Aurora then goes into a pink dress for dinner with Prince Phillip’s parents, and the inspiration for it comes from the original animated Sleeping Beauty. The neckline is the same and the pink is representative of Aurora’s dress in the animation, and it’s wrapped in tulle and cascading flowers, and we have an overlay of embroidery once again.
We then go into a more classical, structured approach when she’s with Queen Ingrith in the castle. The design is not whimsical anymore – it’s more serious, more woven and with a very different type of silhouette and with more gold. It looks like as if it were woven by the master weavers of the kingdom. Finally, we have her wedding dress, which is a culmination of everything we’ve learned about Aurora and how she’s grown. It has six different colours and layers of chiffon, and decorated with hand-made feathered flowers on the entire train and the bodice of the dress.
What about Queen Ingrith?
Well, Queen Ingrith is about money, power and greed. [Laughs] Every single garment that she wears has stones and gold woven into their design. They’re all very beautifully jacquarded in a way that’s totally fresh and new. She drips diamonds, pearls, rubies and all things luxurious. The design of her look is meant to make her seem like she’s filled with wealth, but not necessarily indicate that she was evil. We chose colours that were not dark and heavy. Rather, the heaviness of Queen Ingrith comes from the weight of the jewels. For instance, when we meet her, she’s wearing a light fabric, but has this magnificent collar and yoke of stones and pearls. The creative direction for her was that this woman is as friendly as any queen you could ever imagine. You just can’t tell a book by its cover. [Laughs]
So, here’s a tough one for you. If you had to choose a favourite look from the film, which would it be?
Why did you have to ask me that! [Laughs] If I had to choose, my absolute favourites would be Queen Ingrith’s battle look, Maleficent’s battle look and Aurora’s wedding look.
Oh, we saw Queen Ingrith’s battle look and it looks incredible.
It’s gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. I think it’s the essence of Queen Ingrith. You’re not sure what it’s made out of and how it’s made. It is one-hundred percent what she would wear in battle. If you look at that, and you look at how Maleficent looks in battle, you can see exactly who they are.
It’s such a big contrast.
Very big contrast, and very clearly shows who they are and who they become as we’ve got to know them through the story of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. It’s the perfect symbolism of the relationship between those two characters.
Finally, why should everyone catch Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil?
Because you’re going to go on the best roller coaster ride of your life!