Beauty and the Beast’s Belle is set to hit our screens all over again in the new live-action remake from Disney – and, once again, the bookworm (played by Emma Watson) is going to ride off in search of adventure in the great wide somewhere.
And, just as she did in the animated version, she will do so dressed entirely in blue.
It’s a recurring theme throughout Disney; Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora, Frozen’s Elsa, Aladdin’s Jasmine, Peter Pan’s Wendy, Alice in Wonderland’s Alice and even Cinderella all have one thing in common, and it’s in the colour of their outfits.
It seems as if blue truly is the colour, and, apparently, feminism is the game.
Speaking about the significance of the hue, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, explained to Allure: “It’s dependable. It's reliable. It might cloud up, but we know it’s there.”
She added that these “positive connotations” – dependability, constancy, and the ability to overcome dark times – explains why blue was traditionally attributed to boys, with these qualities all thought of as indicating a “strong, decent man”.
Though Disney has had its criticisms of its women’s characters over the years, by giving their heroines blue ensembles, the company has imbued them with a sense of power, of control over their own destinies. More importantly, they have allowed their diminutive worlds (women, traditionally, were expected to stay near home and hearth) to expand.
“You’re adding a bit of power to the character by giving her the blue,” says Eiseman. “It's a very subtle way of saying, ‘Yeah, but young women, young girls, can be empowered, too.’”
Whether the company definitely intended this is not known, although there are so many leading women in blue that it seems a strange coincidence if not.
Costume designer Jacqueline Durran, who worked alongside Watson on Belle’s attire for Beauty and the Beast, has also stressed the empowering qualities of the colour, saying the shade fits Belle's role as an active heroine.
“There is a sort of refinement and crispness to light blue, but there's also blue in workwear,” she told the beauty publication. “It is a practical colour, and a colour that you can work in.
“In that sense, it is full of active strength.”
In the original animated film, blue was definitely Belle’s colour – although, in the 1991 classic, it wasn’t just symbolic of her empowerment.
In fact, art director Brian McEntee famously colour-keyed Belle so that she is the only person in her town who wears blue, to symbolise how different she is from everyone else around her. Later, she encounters the Beast, another outsider, and he is also wearing blue and has blue eyes.
While the new film will see others wearing hints of blue, Belle, once again, will be “distinct within the town as the only one who wears a column of blue”.
Of course, Belle will not be solely decked in the shade for the new film – Watson’s character will also be slipping into that iconic yellow gown, too.
However Durran was keen to help Watson realise her vision of a feminist Disney princess and the pair worked hard to incorporate that into the ballgown, which was made famous in the 1991 animated classic.
“For Emma, it was important that the dress was light and that it had a lot of movement,” Durran explained to Entertainment Weekly. “In Emma’s reinterpretation, Belle is an active princess. She did not want a dress that was corseted or that would impede her in any way.”
They even made sure that Belle’s shoes fit within this new narrative, ensuring that, while they were heeled slippers from the 18th century, they were still “something that Belle can run in and that she can go off and save her father in”.
New Belle sounds like a complete badass, doesn’t she?