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A Little Princess: Costume Design

A Little Princess Costume design

Today I’m introducing a new kind of post. Costume design. I was browsing along the other day, and found a post about movie costume design and realized that I am really fascinated by the dynamics of movie costumes, especially for women, and how the colors and textures are used to evoke emotions. I’m going to tell about the 1995 children’s movie, “A Little Princess.”  This is one of my favorite books, and the story of the little girl who is left at a boarding school in England while her father goes off to fight is enthralling. Eventually, little Sara Crewe’s father dies and she becomes a slave to the mean owner of the school, until her father’s business partner, who was living next door, discovers her and she becomes his ward. The film is also gorgeous, although it is set in New York, and takes some liberties, the two largest of which are showing Becky, Sara’s scullery-maid friend, as an African-American girl, and making Sara’s father be alive in the end, instead of remaining dead. (Ha, that sounded weird!) Also, the film is set in WWI, instead of the Victorian Era.

Anyway, the costume designer for this movie was Judianna Makovsky. Apparently the director wanted a palette of almost significantly green, which no one thought was a good idea except for Ms. Makovsky (Green isn’t supposed to do very well on camera).

The film starts in India, which is characterized by a palette of yellows, oranges, and creams, making a sort of warmth and feeling of home, while still being exotic. New York, where Sara is dropped off, is drabber, with grays, dark greens, and browns.

A Little Princess Costume design

When Sara is in New York for the first time, she wears a very clean, pure cream-colored coat, which gives an innocent feel while still being very opulent.

A Little Princess costume design

The schools uniforms are green, with drop waists, pleated skirts, and large embroidered collars. White pinafores are also worn over the dresses. There are lots of big, poufy hair bows and the overall effect is uniform and beautiful.

A little princess costume design

When Sara is relegated to being almost a slave, she wears dark brown and black, which heighten the audience’s realization of her sadness and new position. This dress is also short, or too small, which adds to the overall pain that we experience along with Sara. During this time, Sara makes friends with a native servant, who is dressed exotically in the oranges and creams reminiscent of India.

A Little Princess Costume Design

When a mystery friend (The native servant) decorates her room, the draperies and decorations are all in shades of orange, yellow, cream and green.

A Little Princess Costume Design

At the end of the movie, both her and Becky are wearing darker cream coats, which symbolizes to me her return to her previous fortune and state.

Anyway, I really enjoyed studying and finding out so much about this, and I’m sure I’ll have more of these costume design posts very soon! Don’t you think costume design is a great thing to study in the weeks leading up to the biggest costume event of the year? Keep your eyes peeled!


Published by skirtfixation

Audrey, a mom of 9, sews and blogs at Skirt Fixation, your home for everything skirt related! There's lots of other sewing goodness too...after all can't leave the boys out of sewing adventures! She also designs and sells pattern through Project Run & Play.

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