She's one of the most stylish Disney villainesses of all time. With ruby lips, eyes perfectly rimmed in black, sharp, high cheekbones and a show-stopping black dress, cape and horns, Maleficent's look is more than memorable - it is iconic 55 years since "Sleeping Beauty" debuted onscreen.
She’s one of the most stylish Disney villainesses of all time. With ruby lips, eyes perfectly rimmed in black, sharp, high cheekbones and a show-stopping black dress, cape and horns, Maleficent’s look is more than memorable — it is iconic 55 years since “Sleeping Beauty” debuted onscreen.
No wonder then that Maleficent, the titular character in the coming live-action movie starring Angelina Jolie, has inspired one of the most extensive assemblages of fashion and beauty tie-ins in recent film history. Various elements of Maleficent’s look have been translated into wearable items, from black-and-white beaded jackets by Naeem Khan for HSN to a dragon-shaped rhodium ear cuff with onyx and black diamonds from Crow’s Nest Jewels to a M.A.C. red lipstick.
“Maleficent is fabulous,” said Nancy Deihl, director of the master of arts program in costume studies at New York University. Maleficent, along with the Evil Queen and Cruella de Vil, are the three fashion Furies, she said. “While heroines are pretty, the villainesses are what you call striking. You can even say beautiful, in a certain way. Belle laide really applies to them. They’re never going to be mistaken for the sweet heroine.”
Maleficent and other villainesses are glamorous in part because “they have this power and knowledge” that makes them attractive, Deihl said. “Glamour requires a certain maturity rather than girlish prettiness.” For grown-ups, the stylistic appeal of the live-action version of Maleficent is not about viewing evil as glamorous as much as it is about appreciating her sophistication and power, Deihl said.
Add to that Jolie’s star wattage and Maleficent is even more alluring. “Angelina’s got it already, with her very amazing face, her very prominent cheekbones, her arched eyebrows,” Deihl said. “These are all the things that society regards as very beautiful.”
In the film, Jolie’s beauty (notwithstanding the prosthetically-enhanced angular cheekbones) combines with Maleficent’s revisionist back story to make the dark fairy much less malevolent and much more sympathetic than her animated predecessor.
Toni G, Jolie’s makeup artist, created the Maleficent makeup look, which M.A.C. interpreted not only with a blue-red lipstick called True Love’s Kiss but with a whole capsule collection of makeup and nail lacquers, including faux lashes, eyeliner and a black nail color named Nocturnelle. For most of the film, the underside of Maleficent’s nails was coated black, but the top was painted in a pale pearlescent hue. M.A.C. also created an online guide for which 19 products to use to re-create Jolie’s Maleficent visage.
Jewelry also was a natural fit for commercial reinterpretation.
Manuel Albarran, who designed Maleficent’s bracelets, brooches, rings, collars and shoulder and spine pieces for the film, used gold, brass, copper, various leathers, feathers, precious stones and crystals to create organic-looking and nature-inspired jewelry.
In turn, London-based Crow’s Nest Jewels took themes from the film, such as horns, thorns, dragons and feathers, and fashioned them into a stunning seven-piece fine-jewelry collection ($5,180-$20,880). Each item is a statement piece, from the rhodium bangle with a pear-shaped onyx, black diamonds and twin horns that climb across the arm to the 18-karat ring with yellow and red sapphires that evokes flames.
Several fashion jewelry companies are offering their versions of jewelry influenced not just by Maleficent, the film character, but also by the decorative elements of the movie, including period-themed fabrics, embellishments, design motifs and architecture. The black feather necklace by RK by Ranjana Khan Jewelry for HSN ($239.95) that mimics the feathers in Maleficent costumes is one of the standout pieces.
Some clothing capsule collections, on the other hand, are not so much a literal interpretation as much as they are an evocation of Maleficent’s costumes in the second half of the film, which shows Maleficent as an adult wearing mostly black in “much heavier fabrics with lots of volume” and “sculptural shapes,” according to Anna B. Sheppard, costume designer. The costumes, which include the dramatic pleated dress with twin pointed collars in the famous christening scene and the sleek catsuit-like ensemble in the climax of the movie, are like couture, while the capsule collections are the ready-to-wear counterpart.
Ranjana Khan’s husband, designer Naeem Khan, whose dresses and gowns have been worn by first lady Michelle Obama, Carrie Underwood and Eva Longoria, has created for HSN a black-and-white collection that references Maleficent and Aurora so subtly, the clothes stand on their own without association to the film. “I wanted to create clothes that are fun and wearable without getting too dark,” Naeem Khan said. “You want to feel that they’re part of the movie, but you don’t make the clothes too evil. You want them to be glamorous. Everyone has that badness in them, so I try to keep it a little bad, but predominantly good.”
For example, Khan chose a pleated fabric that borrows its origins from one of Maleficent’s dresses. He used that fabric for the bodice of two black tops with an illusion panel ($70-$100).
On the other hand, some supposed “Maleficent” HSN tie-ins are head-scratchers at best. A pastel embellished chiffon tunic from DG2 by Diane Gilman and an eggplant draped-front cardigan from G by Giuliana Rancic under the Maleficent collection are just two of many examples in the Home Shopping Network project that make one wonder whether the designers for those lines were thinking about an entirely different movie.
There’s no question about the inspiration at retailer and manufacturer Hot Topic, which is offering a combination of T-shirts with artists’ renderings of “Maleficent” scenes as well as several all-black tops, bottoms and dresses, some of which are accented with pleather. The most Maleficent-looking of the bunch is a dress with a standup collar.
“The ideas were really coming from the movie costumers,” said Cindy Levitt, senior vice president of merchandising and marketing for Hot Topic. “Using early footage and stills, our designers created clothes that were inspired by the Maleficent and Aurora. But the clothes are wearable – they don’t look like costumes.”
NYU’s Deihl said Maleficent’s style has long been in the designer collections. “Alexander McQueen already did a jacket with big horns coming out of the shoulders,” she said. “The Gothic, medieval, horned woman is out there.”
The aforementioned jacket was from the fall 1997 collection, but McQueen also designed a long-sleeved black dress covered with duck feathers and exaggerated shoulders that looked like wings in his famous fall 2009 collection dubbed the “The Horn of Plenty.” That ensemble also came with a feathered headdress, and gave “the impression of a raven” as well as that of a 1950s haute couture dress, said Andrew Bolton, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
More recently, Christian Louboutin got into the Maleficent spirit. When Jolie was in London for “Maleficent”-related events, she wore two pairs of custom Louboutin pumps — the first black, the second white — with wedges sculpted to look like horns.
Previews of the film mostly show the Maleficent that we know as vengeful and menacing. But the movie’s story of her metamorphosis will likely make her an attractive, even heroic character, much like Elphaba was in the book and musical “Wicked.”
Whether that will help fuel a demand for Maleficent-inspired fashion is unclear. What’s evident is that those who may want to channel their inner dark fairy will have plenty from which to choose.
“Costume is not fashion, but fashion is costume,” Deihl said. “What we wear and how we go about every day is a performance of our lives. Some people might decide that they are in a Maleficent mood and they have to be Maleficent for a day.”
©2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
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