Aloha my wonderful merfolk!
Today is an interesting fashion post for me. A fashion post with a twist. Today, I am going to be discussing if the fashion in the animated Beauty and the Beast is accurate to French fashion from that time period.
This blog post is a collaboration with the wonderful Annabelle from Blue Belle. If you want to read about how accurate the new live action remake was in the fashion stakes, then give her blog link a click and go read her blog post!
Let’s start with a little bit of the history that could surround this story. Beauty and the Beast was first published in 1740. A second, edited version was released in 1756. So, taking this into account, we can say that the story is set in the early 18th Century. This was at least 40 years prior to the French Revolution, which means, there was still a aristocracy. As the first novel was published in 1740, we shall say the story is set in the 1730s.
The poorer, common folk of France during the 1730 dressed very basic. No fancy gowns or wigs. They were simply not affordable for the common folk of France.
Fashion wise during this time, there were a lot of fancy clothing. Rich women wore big, puffed out dresses and had tiny waists. The men wore fine coats and white powdered wigs.
So, now that we’ve seen the differences in the fashion in 1730s France, lets see if the animated Beauty and the Beast is accurate to this.
Firstly, let’s have a look at peasant Belle’s blue towns dress. I found the image of the peasants dress on Google. It is more French revolution era but, for Disney research, it’s within the same century so has some description of accuracy. We know of course that Disney chose blue for Belle to wear in order to make her stand out from the rest of her village. Perhaps this girl is the same? Like’s to stand out.
Let’s move on to Belle’s iconic yellow ball gown. The yellow dress on the right is part of a Georgian museum collection. Georgian was the name of the period during the reign of the George’s in England, however, the fashion was overall, quite similar. The big skirts, the wigs. Belle is of course missing her powdered white wig in favour of her own brown locks, but I’m sure we can overlook that slightly. The yellow fabric is similar, the big skirt and small waist is similar. I’m not 100% sure on the off the shoulder design as most French dresses I have come across from that period all have longer sleeves.
A wonderful artist named Claire Hummel drew and accurate representation of what Belle should look like in the animated classic if her clothing was more accurate. Buzzfeed also did an article on the accuracy of Disney clothing in the animated movies.
As I don’t want to get into the Beast/Adam debate, I shall refer to him as the beast throughout this blog post. During the iconic ball scene, Beast wears a royal blue jacket with a cravat and tight trousers. Of course, no socks as he has wolf like claws instead of feet. I found the image of the French clothing on Google. This outfit is typical French attire prior to the French Revolution. It is grand and very royal looking. Beasts costume is rather accurate to the times. The blue jacket, the frills, the waistcoat and the cravat.
As for the hair, it was typical of royal males to wear white powdered wigs. Or, they would wear it tied back as the Beast does in the picture above. The picture on the right, below, is of a typical 18th century wig that aristocratic males would wear. They have tried to capture this in the Beasts design with the curls in his beard and his eyebrows.
Gaston, in the grand scheme of things is a peasant; he is a hunter for the village. I think he just likes to think he is more important than the other village people. Wearing a colour as royal as red as decorating his home with antlers and animal heads. Disney have said his red shirt was to represent the evil in the movie.
As shown below, the male peasant would have worn clothing of simple colours; a plain white shirt and probably brown trousers. The poorer people in France did not have the money to spend on rich coloured clothing such as the reds seen on Gaston.
When it comes to Belle and the Beast, there are small historical inaccuracies but, Disney, overall, have done their research and provided us with characters fashion that is accurate enough to the time period it is set in.
In 2017, Disney released a live action remake of the 1991 classic. If you want to read about the accuracy and inaccuracies of the costumes in this movie, then go to Blue Belle and give Annabelle’s post a read. Show her blog some love!
a mermaid be waiting for you, in mysterious fathoms below