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What You Didn't Know About Maleficent's Costume

The Disney live action remakes and spin-offs have had quite the challenge in adapting cartoon looks for real human bodies. While some people found Belle's ball gown underwhelming in 2015's "Beauty and the Beast," Maleficent's costumes proved much more popular, thanks to input directly from Angelina Jolie. Ahead of the 2019 premiere of "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," costume designer Ellen Mirojnick spoke with Disney Style about Maleficent's looks. 

The "Maleficent" series brings sympathy to the character first introduced as unambiguously evil in the original 1959 animated version of "Sleeping Beauty." Cartoon Maleficent curses a baby to die because she didn't get a party invite. Not cool. Meanwhile, live-action Maleficent resists colonial power. Her aggression against the King isn't over a snub; instead, it's for the survival of her people (and a little bit of revenge for cutting off her wings). According to Mirojnick, it's Maleficent's wings that transform her whole aesthetic for "Mistress of Evil."

Because of this different background, she also has a specific inspiration behind the use of her costumes.

Maleficent's cultural identity inspired her costumes

Speaking to Disney Style, Mirojnick explained how Maleficent's wings informed every aspect of her costumes in "Mistress of Evil." In the first film, a de-winged Maleficent wears heavy fabrics that imitate her animated look, but she gets her wings back near the end of that film. "Her wings enable her to take great flight," Mirojnick said. "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."

Maleficent's battle outfit is also quite airy, especially for combat. Maleficent's combat look is almost painted on, which was intentional. Mirojnick took inspiration for the Moors battle costume on "early tribes of different regions," perhaps referring to ancient Briton tribes. "They didn't wear armour, but instead painted their bodies," Mirojnick said. Celtic tribes often painted themselves for battle in woad, as depicted (inaccurately) in films like "Braveheart" and 2004's "King Arthur." 

Mirojnick took inspiration from the idea of painted warriors and made a dress for Maleficent that mixes painted elements with the airy fabrics she'd been wearing all movie. "[W]e hoped to create a design that would best tell the story of where she came from," she said, "and that with that dress, she was being true to herself and her tribe." Mission accomplished for the entire costume design team, and it's now tough to imagine Maleficent looking any other way.