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Enchanted brings the wardrobe mishmash of Disney princesses into the real world

FILM COSTUME REVIEW Enchanted  Run time: 1h 47mins Who: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden Where: Now streaming on Disney + Rating: Utterly charming

It should come as a surprise to no one that animated Disney princess movies are not bastions of historical accuracy.

Quite the opposite is true; the tales many of these movies are based on were written and set centuries ago, but it would be impossible to tell what era from the clothing.

This is not a criticism — these movies have gorgeous costumes. When creating dresses for the Disney princesses, the artists treat the aesthetics of these older times as loose guidelines rather than laws, allowing them to incorporate elements from the fashions of other time periods, as well.

This is especially true of 2007’s Enchanted, directed by Kevin Lima, of A Goofy Movie and Tarzan fame.

Enchanted brings the wardrobe mishmash of Disney princesses into the real world

Giselle (Adams) in her wedding dress.

This (mostly) live-action fairytale centres around a whimsical young woman named Giselle (Amy Adams) who is transported from her idyllic homeland of Andalasia to modern-day Manhattan. She comes into the care of divorce lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey), while being pursued by her fiancé Prince Edward (James Marsden) and his evil stepmother Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon).

The costumes were created by Mona May, the designer who worked on Clueless. Although her work here is very different to Clueless’s plaid miniskirts and knee-high socks, she brings her usual assortment of bright colours and quintessentially feminine clothing to Giselle’s dresses.

Enchanted – with a plot cobbled together from different Disney movies such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950), and some fantasy locations – draws from several eras and ideas for its costumes.

The extras and most of the supporting cast are swathed in late-2000s casual and workwear. However, while the costumes the Andalasians wear are cohesive, they borrow from various time periods. 

Enchanted brings the wardrobe mishmash of Disney princesses into the real world

Giselle in her ballgown.

Narissa, whose most obvious aesthetic influence is Snow White’s Evil Queen, has a 1930s-inspired bias cut dress. Edward’s huge puffy sleeves draw on 16th-century menswear, contrasting with the Don Draper-esque suits Robert often wears — a nice touch, given that 1960s period piece Mad Men debuted in 2007, the same year the film came out.

The most important character to examine here, of course, is Giselle. Like the Disney princesses before her, she wears clothing that is inspired by more than one era. For an earlier example of this, in Sleeping Beauty (1959), Princess Aurora’s design was inspired by Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (1953), so she dons a calf-length circle skirt, even though the movie is set in the 14th century. 

Giselle has an even wider selection of inspirations. The pink dress she wears in Andalasia also has a 1930s bias cut, but one of her Manhattan dresses has a 1950s circle skirt à la Sleeping Beauty. Her wedding dress has massive 1830s sleeves, but the skirt is a mid-19th century crinoline, essentially creating a huge barrier between her and the citizens of New York — it also makes for a particularly funny visual gag, when she struggles to get her skirt through the door to Robert’s apartment.

Enchanted brings the wardrobe mishmash of Disney princesses into the real world

Sleeping Beauty’s Princess Aurora costumes borrow from the princess in Roman Holiday, played by Audrey Hepburn.

However, an often overlooked element of Giselle’s style is its incorporation of 21st-century elements, all while retaining a sense of the Disney princess archetype.

She may move on from running barefoot to donning heeled boots and sandals, but she continues to put flowers and ribbons in her hair. There is even an argument to be made that although her halter dress for the Kings and Queen’s Ball is plain, it is emblematic of her acceptance of New York realism, and thus her new-found appreciation of the 21st century.

Oftentimes, animated movies are not particularly concerned with historical accuracy, but this can make for some incredible, visually interesting costumes. 

Enchanted more than proves this idea. After 15 years, it is still a delight, and its costumes are bound to elicit wonder from viewers, young and old alike.

Watch this again, perhaps as a double feature with Disenchanted, or even as the final movie in a marathon featuring all the past Disney movies from which it draws inspiration.

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