‘Descendants 2’ is only a few days away! HollywoodLife.com talked with the movie’s designer Kara Saun about crafting the perfect wardrobes for Mal, Evie, Uma, and more!
Descendants 2 premieres July 21, and it’s going to be bigger and bolder than the first. Dove Cameron, 21, Sofia Carson, 24, Cameron Boyce, 18, and Booboo Stewart, 23, are returning as their beloved characters for all-new round of fun and wickedness. HollywoodLife.com talked EXCLUSIVELY with the movie’s costume designer Kara Saun about the advice she has for young designers like Evie, tips to incorporate the Descendants into your wardrobe, and more! Check out our interview below!
Mal and Evie are huge role models for kids and young adults. Their fans are so obsessed with their fashion, so what kind of tips or tricks do you have for people who may want to incorporate elements of Mal, Evie, and Uma into their everyday style?
Kara Saun: You know, with creating Mal and Evie, they have tons of really fun, iconic looks. It depends on which way you want to go. For Mal, she has this princess look in the beginning, then she goes into her iconic Isle look. So if you have a leather jacket, that would totally work. One fun thing that I really want to promote to all the kids out there is that within the costume design we do a lot of eco-fashion. Everything is custom-made, but if you see the pirates and the background, these are things that you can try to also create yourself from what you have, maybe in your own closet. You can paint a jacket, you can stud a jacket, so that’s really fun to try to kind of do on your own. It’s a really fun project for kids out there. But for Mal, I would say, oh my gosh, the princess look and the pastel colors and embellished fabrics. Throughout the movie, because Evie was the little designer of the group, she looked designer head to toe. So if you look at the shoes and the bags, everything is custom, custom, custom, and embellished. I feel like for the kids out there, it’ll be fun for them to recreate these looks and to get the looks of Mal and Evie.
I have to say, Mal, Evie, and Uma’s look from top to bottom are so detailed. Every little accessory means something.
Kara Saun: Thank you! I have to give a shoutout to Kenny Ortega because you can really see the details [in the movie]. I love to tell people that it could almost be a game if you look at all the trinkets on their wardrobes. If you look closely on Mal, you’ll see little dragons on her shoes, her earrings, on her necklace. With Evie, you’ll see the hearts and all the things that represent Evie. Uma, she has hundreds of seashells, starfish, swords, and skulls on her wardrobe.
The costumes really do pay homage to their parents.
Kara Saun: As a costume designer, that’s where I start. I always tell people that I went to the Disney vault. Like, literally, I looked at original artwork. I had my own Disney collection of movies that I’ve seen like 1000 times. You watch them over and over because it’s really important to incorporate their lineage and their heritage into the wardrobe and to also give them own style.
Mal’s got a very princess-y look in the beginning. What inspired her look?
Kara Saun: The funny this is, I call Dove my little princess. It’s very easy to do that. I feel like I really looked to modern day princesses, and so I love the fact that Mal is going through this crisis of her identity now that she’s in Auradon and is wondering how she fits in. She really was playing the part and telling herself, okay, now I’m in Auradon. I’m the lady of the court. And so, I really wanted to fit that storyline, so you see she’s in colors that she would have never have worn before. She’s in a white sequined dress in the opening shot. Everything is very embellished and detailed and beautiful, beautiful laces. That was a lot of fun to play with her in this princess line in the beginning. I just took it from a modern day princess and then it helps because it’s Dove. She fits it so well.
I feel like Dove really is a Disney princess.
Kara Saun: She had her own room. She had so many looks. Every time you see her, she’s in a different look, and so she had this huge room with all her big gowns and she walks in and says, “I just feel like a princess!” It was so much fun.
Was there a look that was hard to finish?
Kara Saun: I’m kind of known as a fixer. I think coming from just my background, I’ve always costume designed for dancers. I’ve always costume designed for movement, whether it was America’s Best Dance Crew or Descendants or Make Your Mark for Disney, that’s just something my team does. With all the action and movement and Kenny being a choreographer, it was so important for everybody to move in the same space and at the same time. For me, the challenge was how can I put more? I want more time to put more into the pieces. Kenny will come up with this great idea on the spot and my response is always, “Let’s do it.” He’s like, “Can you do it?” And I’m like, “I can do anything, Kenny. I will make it happen.” That’s kind of the motto with my team. There’s always a way to create anything.
I love that Evie has become this full fledged fashion designer. What advice do you have for a young designer like Evie, who’s trying to keep going forward and designing?
Kara Saun: I have to tell you that one of the reasons I loved Evie’s storyline so much was because that was me in high school. That was me in high school. I tell kids all the time, when I was in high school, I was designing for all of my classmates. My parents bought me a sewing machine and I was sewing every day after school. Every day. My first real job was designing the cheerleading uniforms for my high school. They literally hired a high school student. I made these reversible tops. Even back then I was trying to figure out detachable and interchangeable wardrobes. I always tell kids, look, if this is something you really love, you always have to be perfecting your craft. You always have to be learning new things. I’ve had tons of young interns. I’ve had people email me for class projects. You never know who you reach out to, who’s going to respond. Learn your craft, and research, research, research. As a costume designer, I researched the characters, their heritage, the fabrics, I researched everything. You should be researching what you want to do. You should always be perfecting your craft.
Dove, China, and Sofia are all fashionistas in their own right outside of Descendants. Did they come to you with ideas or have they come to you for fashion advice?
Kara Saun: Right now, China has been wearing a lot of my line on the red carpet, so that’s a lot of fun. She was wearing my Fashion Fairy Godmother line on the red carpet at the Descendants 2 premiere.
She looked so pretty!
Kara Saun: You know what? No one nows that was blush leather. That was a leather gown and we put a little homage to her character with the lace-up and she had a few of her iconic seashells on it. Then when we hit press day, she was in another one that looked very Uma-inspired. I have to say, it’s been so fun working with Sofia and Dove. Even on the red carpet, they always ask me what I think and I say, “You guys look amazing.” I felt that Sofia and Dove and China all have their own very distinct fashion looks just on their own, and it’s honestly easy for me because they are so fashion forward I know what they are going to love. They see something, they know what it is, they know the style, the value, the silhouette. I know Dove’s style and I know what she likes. I knew the kind of strapless silhouettes would work great for her and the full skirt. For Sofia, I know she loves old Hollywood glamour. China, just in her own personal life, has that edgy, cool, leather look anyway. She loves those looks. It just so happens that the fashion fits almost who they are personally.
Tell me about designing Uma’s pirate look.
Kara Saun: It was very important because, even though they’re all the VKs from the Isle, they’re from different places. Uma’s rocking that scallywag swag. It’s like this pirate punk look. Harry has a little military look based on Captain Hook. With Uma, I’m like, hey, she’s not just the daughter of Ursula. She’s also a pirate. Everybody always wonders how I came up with her colors. Mal had purple, so there was no way I could give her Ursula’s purple, but when I was watching the movie, I was so drawn to her ridiculous turquoise eye shadow. I loved it so much. I thought it was perfect. That’s how I came up with the colors for Uma, based on that eye shadow. I just loved it. It so fits the water, so fits the sea, and where she’s from.
Descendants 2 will air Friday, July 21, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, Freeform, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, Disney XD, and Disney Channel.
HollywoodLifers, are you excited for Descendants 2? Let us know!