The Art of Disney Costuming: Heroes, Villains, and Spaces Between by Jeff Kurti and the staff of the Walt Disney Archives is a coffee table book featuring a detailed look at a selection of Disney movie costumes. Each costume is given at least a page, usually more, that includes an overview of the costume and some insight into the design usually from the costume designer as well as a director or actor involved too. There are call outs providing background information on the designers who’s work is featured throughout the book. There are a large number of images that feature two page spreads, full page layouts, detailed enlargements as well as a number of concept art and inspirational pieces too. The costumes are organized into four chapters – A Royal Ball, Dwelling in Darkness, Spaces Between and Living in the Light. Featured pieces date back to early Disney live action films and run up through the 2019 release of Aladdin. Thirty Disney films are highlighted with a focus on the more modern films, maybe from the 90s forward.
The book reads as a companion to the Archives Exhibit: Heroes and Villains the Art of the Disney Costume that was at the 2019 D23 Expo providing detail on many of the pieces in that exhibit. Here are some pictures and video from the D23 Exhibit. If you enjoyed walking around that exhibit or wish you had you will definitely want to consider adding this book to your library. If you just want to learn more about the pieces you saw or have a nice coffee table book of what you saw this fits that bill perfectly.
I found it interesting to read the intentions and learn more about the thought behind many of the costumes. There is so much thought/effort put into each and most of the time you do not stop and really look at the details or think about it. Having a book with great photos and an interesting narrative slows you down to soak in some of the visuals and information about them. Even with the approximately 170 pages in this book it really only scratches the surface of costuming at Disney.
The idea of organizing the book into princess costumes then moving on to Villains before moving back to some of those that are a little harder to pigeon hole as a hero or villain was a different choice that worked well. It did feel a little odd to be jumping around between film genres, time periods and release years though within each chapter.
I really enjoyed the prologue which goes back to the beginning of Disney and looks at live action reference costumes for the films as well as touches on some of the costumes for the parks and television. The focus of the book though are the film costumes. I would have liked to have seen more about the parks and television, maybe future books will delve further into those areas.
The Art of Disney Costuming: Heroes, Villains, and Spaces Between would make a great addition to your library if you want to explore Disney film costumes in more depth. The narrative provides a good amount of detailed background information and some factoids to support the great visuals in this coffee table book.
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