I am continuing my mission to have one post highlighting every Disney princess on this blog by featuring a piece of artworks showcasing Tiana today. Today’s featured art work is a piece of costume design art created in gouache by Disney artist Lorelay Bove. It explores several possible designs for Tiana’s bayou wedding dress, the gown in which Tiana is most often seen wearing in merchandise and at the Disney parks. I find this particular piece of concept art to be incredibly gorgeous and also very illustrative of the specific role costume design art plays in creating the look of a Disney princess, especially in more recent years when animators began making their films with an awareness of the growing popularity of the Disney Princess franchise.
Lorelay Bove is a fantastic Disney artist who has worked on the vast majority of the films made by Disney Animation in the last decade. She was a visual development artist on Tangled, Big Hero 6, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck it Ralph, and several recent Disney animated shorts. She has also become one of the top artists currently working at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and her work is often sold in Disney owned galleries and on merchandise. She played a significant role on The Princess and the Frog, creating not only visual development art for the film, but also designing many of the film’s props and costumes, as you can see in this piece. Her unique art was also displayed in the final film during the end credits sequence. Bove has a very modernist style that is reminiscent of the work of Mary Blair, who she herself sites as a major influence. I think her modernist and abstract approach to costume designs was perfectly suited for a 1920s american princess like Tiana.
What I love about all of Bove’s costume designs in this piece is they are clearly art deco inspired and reflect the fashions of the 1920s, while still being influenced by classic Disney fairytales and the film’s bayou settings. I love the draping vine sleeves on all of the gowns, they remind me of the fringe sleeves and trailing trains I’ve seen on many real vintage dresses from the late 1920s. The silhouettes and hairstyles are also period influenced, and are reminiscent of 1920s jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald. All the details in this concept art, the focus on period silhouettes, fabric drapery, hairstyles, and accessories are what set costume design art apart from regular visual development art, which focuses more on the mood and the general style of a film than the precise details of the clothing. In the end, the filmmakers choose to make Tiana’s bayou wedding dress into a gown similar to the one at the bottom right of this piece, but with some changes. Most of the period accurate and art deco inspired details were removed in favour of a look that better reflected the “classic” 1950s Disney film style the directors wanted. While I can’t say for sure, I think that this change came from a belief that Tiana needed a poofy princess gown that would fit in with the other Disney Princesses in the line.I do know from interviews with directors Ron Clements and John Musker that the knowledge that Tiana would be included in the Disney Princess franchise influenced many of their decisions while making The Princess and the Frog. Personally, although the final design for Tiana’s gown is pretty, I would have preferred if she had gotten a more unique and period accurate dress like these Lorelay Bove art deco inspired designs.
Hope you enjoyed this little look at costume design in Animated Disney films and what the process of designing a princess wedding dress for Princess Tiana was like.
Image credit: www.lorelaybove.com