What can one say about Edna Mode, the Incredibles costume designer? She’s an icon! Pull up a chair because I learned quite a bit about Edna “E” Mode and her style on my recent trip to Pixar Studios during the Incredibles 2 movie event. The animation costume design team really dug into her personality to come up with new looks for E in Incredibles 2. She’s Bold, Dramatic and Heroic… but not a fan of models. Ahem. Here’s what we learned about the art of animation costume design at Pixar.
Last month I made the epic journey to tour Pixar Studios as part of an early press event for the Incredibles 2 movie. It was as cool and amazing as you would think- I won’t even pretend it wasn’t! I had many a pinch-me-am-I-really-here moments.
We’re finally getting to share what we saw and learned while on the Pixar campus (embargo lifted! YASSS!) and I am so excited to spill a little of that today.
At the #Incredibles2Event we met Pixar writers, animators, directors, the Pixar Studio’s archivists and animation costume designers. The Incredibles costume designers were definitely my favorite of the presentations as they shared their creative processes.
The Incredibles Costume Designer Edna Mode: Bold! Dramatic! Heroic!
You read that correctly: animation studios need costume design. And it was fascinating to hear how it all comes together to get the look and feel of realistic costume movement on the screen.
If this is news to you, you are not alone. I honestly had no idea animation costume design was a thing. Once they said it and started explaining how they work, it made total sense that this is an integral part of the movie making process. But as a casual movie goer? No clue!
The entire presentation I pretty much sat with my mouth hanging open and saying WHOA a lot.
What made it so awesome for me was the focus on Edna Mode. I adore Edna and drive my kiddos crazy when I get into my own E quoting mode. I even put together my own Edna Mode inspired costume for a runDisney race once, but I can’t say I took nearly as many steps into creating the look as the Pixar animation costume designers did!
The animation costume design presentation gave us a whole lot of E and I think you’ll love the way Pixar styled her for the Incredibles 2 movie opening on June 15. Get your Incredibles 2 movie tickets NOW!
Meet Deanna Marsiglies, Pixar Character Artist
Deanna started off the presentation by explaining that her own love of fashion started at a young age. Her passion for vintage styling and mid-century looks is what brought her onboard for the Incredibles 2 movie.
Y’all- I loved her. She is a cosplayer and costumer and someone who feels fashion in her soul like I feel Disney parks. I totally get that!
She started off by explaining that there are two sides to her creative process. The theoretical and the practical. The theoretical involved her determining the big picture of the story and what she’s trying to say through her costume designs.
Her first project was to design Edna’s fashion line, Mode. It was primarily used for her as a way to develop her relationship with Edna (so it doesn’t sound like we’re seeing the line in the film-bummer because it was awesome. #WhompWhomp).
While going back to some of the original artwork and the first Incredibles movie, she picked up that Edna loves Bold.
But you need to know- what a fashion designer created for a model isn’t always what they themselves would wear. So there was more work to be done for Edna and of course, Edna famously focuses In the Now. As Deanna continued through her creation of Edna’s line, she realized there was something big missing to the story.
Edna’s motivation: what was she trying to say with this fashion line?
That’s when it came to Deanna: Edna hates models. And yep, she totally does.
When I rewatched this scene for the millionth time it just solidified my love for Edna!
The challenge was now to design a line on behalf of the fashion designer who loathes the people she’s trying to dress.
Bold! Dramatic! Heroic!
Deanna explained that Edna would use the fashion line as a vehicle to celebrate superheroes and their powers rather than the supermodels themselves. Things fell into place quickly and she combined bold & dramatic with surrealist elements to create a line inspired by various heroic superhero powers.
And yeah, before you say it— Capes are OK in couture! So there was a costume designed for flight that featured a cape.
Deanna went on to explain that we should not to think of the costume as a separate element to the character- they are actually one.
Creatively Practical: Background Character Costuming
Everything she shared with us up to this point focused on the creatively theoretical: now she talked about the other part of the equation, the creatively practical. The goal here is to be clever and efficient- especially when it relates to the background characters and their costume design.
They research the world of The Incredibles which is steeped in mid-century design aesthetic. She looked at home sewing patterns from the time period and stayed away from the high fashion ads. One of the clear and defining qualities of the time was the tailored fit and this became the focus of all the background characters.
Background costumes should compliment the action but not distract from it. They created costumes for groups of people, and with slight variations to establishing different looks of the same basic design and for different body types.
The next step is bringing in practical live models so the artists can analyze the construction before they begin creating it on screen. Artists feel the weight of the fabric and see the fabric in motion- this is where Deanna’s personal closet came in handy!
Since they are working in animation, it is not just the look that’s important— but the movement. A lot of work went into studying how the characters actions affect the garment and how the garment affects the actions. I can never watch a Pixar movie the same again after learning about all the details the costume team put into each character we seen on screen.
Attention to detail is crazy. Each piece is hand tailored. Zipper lengths & button sizes discussed. For animated characters- CRAZY!
Everything is designed with equal amounts of attention to detail- the accessories like glasses, hats, coats, jewelry, and even hairstyles. Because at Pixar, that’s how they roll!
My mind was totally blown by all this- but it was about to get even better when we learned more about Edna’s look in The Incredibles 2 movie.
Meet Bryn Imagire, Art Director Incredibles 2 Movie
Bryn worked on the original Incredibles and the team for the sequel respected the ideas that were established design-wise from the first movie. Time doesn’t pass between the two movies, so they were able to reuse some of the ideas from the first film. But not some of the work. Thanks to changes in technology, everything needed to be reworked from scratch but staying within the same aesthetic.
Thanks to that technology they were able to make the costumes so much more realistic.
Bryn used actors of the time period as the inspiration for wardrobe for the family. She thought Bob was very Paul Newman-ish (swoon!) and Helen had a combination of Mary Tyler Moore, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn inspiration in her looks.
Violet did get a little more contemporary look because the 50s/60s just never really fit for her- so she’s more 70s than the other characters.
Helen also gets an all-new super suit due to her need to run around in the dark. The red was just a little too BOLD! Dramatic! They used vintage wetsuits as a starting point and you can see that in the final product.
Edna Mode Costumes for Incredibles 2
They kept E’s silhouette from the first movie in mind as the started the process for Incredibles 2, but director Brad Bird added a little bit to the Incredibles’ costume designer’s background. Edna Mode is German and Japanese, apparently, so Bryn took this information to heart when looking at designs for E.
One thing she noted was that the Japenese designers she researched always looked comfortable compared to the designs they created for their models. That’s the direction she took Edna’s look in with Incredibles 2.
Edna is going to lounge around her house in luxurious pajamas for parts of this movie- and I am here for it! Listen up, merchandising: I’m going to need some of these looks in real life. Ahem.
Listening to this team of ladies talk about how they each approach the creative process was one of the most interesting learning opportunities I’ve ever had. Bryn’s approach was different than Deanna’s and they are both different than what Fran does: but it all comes together to bring us beautiful fabrics and costumes on screen.
Meet Fran Kalal, Tailoring Lead for Incredibles 2
Fran has the job of making the technical parts of the movie come together seamlessly. They infuse the things they know about art, sewing, and fashion to make the costumes and then take what they know about math and science to make the clothing move.
She’s also a big costume nerd who loves to create physical costumes from the digital ones she makes. This summer her goal is to make Evelyn Deavor’s costumes for herself.
I hope she doesn’t mind if I just send over my measurements, because, yup, I want in on this action!
While costuming in the real world is similar to costuming in the digital world, Fran shared the specific issues that digital costume designers have. Every single time they start a new world, they have to start from scratch.
For example, using a costume from the movie UP just wouldn’t fit in the Incredibles 2 world.
They showed us just how the fabric for Edna Mode’s look is constructed and the different ways they can send instructions to the garment to behave on screen. It was SO COOL, y’all, and made me appreciate technology and the advances even more than before.
This team is also in charge of the hair of the characters and deloped a new “hair tool” for this movie. I’ve been watching the original Incredibles and comparing to the Incredibles 2 movie trailers (see below!) and holy wow, guys. What a difference. I guess waiting a few extra years might be paying off on screen (all is forgiven, Pixar!).
When you’re watching Incredibles 2 in the theaters this summer, be sure to check out the details in the costuming. I have a feeling I’ll be watching this one a few times to concentrate on a different aspect each time- probably looking a little like this, tbh.
More INCREDIBLE posts you might like
About The Incredibles 2 Movie
In INCREDIBLES 2, Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose superpowers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.
Like INCREDIBLES 2 on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarTheIncredibles/
Follow INCREDIBLES 2 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheIncredibles
Follow INCREDIBLES 2 on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theincredibles/
Visit the official INCREDIBLES 2 website here: http://disney.com/incredibles2
INCREDIBLES 2 opens in theatres everywhere on June 15th