This afternoon, my kids, their friends and I watched the movie Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. There is much I could say about the movie, but what I want to focus on is Belle’s yellow gown. In light of the inner-beauty theme of the story, I realize this question may seem rather superficial, but please bear with me: one of the main aspects I enjoy about movies and theater are the costumes.
Why is the yellow dress important?
When Belle comes out in the dress, I think it’s symbolic of her inner beauty, just as when Beast comes out, his clothes are, in my opinion, symbolic of his newly found inner beauty. I may have just made that theory up, but that’s how I see it.
Beauty’s dress is not only iconic in and of itself, but, as I see it, it is an iconic outward expression of inner beauty: as such I wanted the dress to capture my imagination, to combine simplicity and intricacy, elegance and strength, joy and intelligence.
Oscar winning costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, explained that “Emma was quite categorical that she didn’t want a big princess dress […]. She wanted to have something she could move in and she definitely, adamantly would not be wearing a corset.” That fits with both Emma and Belle’s character, as well as the empowered role model we want for girls: “working with Watson to design a feminist version of that iconic yellow ball gown.”
Perceptions of beauty:
Since beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, finding the dress that would please everyone is impossible. Emma and Jacqueline’s stories are different than my story and your story. Each woman’s expression of inner beauty differs. I enjoy that tension. I enjoy seeing different expressions of beauty. If you watch the movie, would love to hear what you think of her dress.