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How Film Noir Inspired the Costumes of ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’

When Ellen Mirojnick was creating the costumes for the sequel to the 2015 hit “Maleficent,” she had a new queen to contend with.

The new character, Ingrith, was not a stereotypical evil queen. She was decorated in icy colors and platinum. Mirojnick knew Michelle Pfeiffer’s blonde hair, combined with that icy platinum look, would work as a great contrast to Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent.

“That contrast reminded me of film noir. It was something you could be completely enthralled by,” says Mirojnick.

“Mistress of Evil” picks up five years after the original movie; Aurora (Elle Fanning) is now Queen of the Moors. Mirojnick made sure she started the film with costumes that were still close to the footprint of the original, but had progressed a little bit.

“We meet Aurora as we left her, in the color blue. This time the blue is a bit more intensified,” Mirojnick explains.

Elle Fanning is Aurora in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL
CREDIT: Jaap Buitendijk

The same concept went into Maleficent’s introduction because Mirojnick didn’t want viewers to be taken out of the story.

“I thought it would be a good idea if we meet Maleficent in a way that felt organic to how we last saw her. Her color palette is ochre and natural siennas and golden,” she says.

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The idea was for Maleficent not to be in her iconic black, yet: “There’s a softness to her.”

The outfit evolves into the black we associate Maleficent with, complete with a cape and gown, when she has to meet Queen Ingrith. It’s a classic film noir moment, as the dark “brunette” meets the platinum “blonde” and the two are face to face.

“The costume starts off this one way at the beginning of the meeting, and the layers come off bit by bit,” Mirojnick says. “It evolves into the battle costume.”

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent, Sam Riley is Diaval, Jenn Murray is Gerda, Harris Dickinson is Prince Phillip, Elle Fanning is Aurora, Robert Lindsay is King John and Michelle Pfeiffer is Queen Ingrith in Disney’s live-action MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.
CREDIT: Jaap Buitendijk

When creating Queen Ingrith, Mironick admits she designed the costumes before knowing who was going to be cast in the role. Once she learned it was Pfeiffer, “It was such a joy,” Mirojnick raves. Pfeiffer complemented the look of the Queen perfectly.

“When we meet her, we’re not sure what her story is. She’s icy and rich and grand. She gets what she wants,” Mirojnick says. “Her kingdom is similar to Versailles. It’s vibrant and large.”

In the film, Maleficent learns about her origins and about the other members of her tribe. She meets the other fairies who look just like her.

“We thought a very strong symbol of these forgotten people was, as other tribes have done so in the past when they go to war, they use paint.”

With that in mind, Mirojnick spent time researching body painting rituals. She used paint on the fairies and on their costumes as a symbol of unity, of the tribe banding together to go to battle.

“Maleficent’s costume evolves with that. She’s the Queen Warrior and so I used paint for her costume, too,” Mirojnick explains. “We used a painting technique developed by Ralph & Russo, which we could apply to nude mesh material and create a feathered effect.”

By the end, peace is restored to the Moorland and the kingdom. Aurora has been through quite a journey and she’s ready to marry her prince.

“That dress started as a creamy blush,” Mirojnick says. By the time it came to shoot the scene, the wedding gown had evolved. “It was made up of 500 handmade feathered flowers that went on the overlay and inside. It is a perfect combination for a queen; Sleeping Beauty and a return to nature.”

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