Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume Brings a Touch of Magic to Seattle


Adeline Ong

Cinderella’s glass slipper made by Swarovski, front angle, Museum of Pop Culture

New to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPoP) “Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume” offers visitors a glimpse into the world of costume design complete with unique insight from the world’s most celebrated designers. The exhibit examines Disney’s iconic characters through the lense of costume design from the many reimaginings of “Cinderella” to “The Pirates of the Caribbean” like Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa.

The exhibit is available until Oct. 31 and boasts over 70 original pieces, which feature statements from the designer providing background information or detailing their processes. Designers featured in the exhibit include Colleen Atwood, Eduardo Castro, Sandy Powell and Penny Rose.

“Heroes and Villains” was originally scheduled to open in Oct. 2020 but was postponed until June 5 of this year.

Lauren Bowen, visiting from Longmont, Colo., was drawn to the exhibit by her love of costumes. Bowen has a history in theatre, dabbling in the art of costume making herself. 

“I love the texture of the fabrics and reading about the [design] choices,” Bowen said.“Like ‘oh this is the storyline, the personality of the character, how do you translate that visually into the things that they would choose to wear?’” 

A few pieces stood out to her in particular. 

“It’s like a couture nun’s habit,” Bowen said about a Cruella de Vil design from the 2000 film “102 Dalmatians.” “I hadn’t made that connection before, I love the style of it but also it goes with her ‘a slap to anything sacred.’ All her costumes are like that.”

Bowen enjoys sewing, has made costumes and has a future list of designs she plans to create herself. 

“I’ve done a couple,” Bowen said, “right now I have a list of ideas.” Having recently purchased a sewing machine, she hopes to make these ideas a reality in the coming year or so.

For both longtime Disney fans and people visiting MoPoP on a whim, there is a piece of the magical Disney nostalgia just beyond the front doors.

Seattle University student Riley Gough wanted to see what the costumes had to do with the characters’ formation and the thought process behind them. She was impressed by the exhibit and appreciated the smallest details within the art. 

“I thought it was really cool to see the costumes in real life that I had seen in the movies, and it’s really interesting to see the backstories of how they made the costumes, the materials and the effort that was put into all the details you wouldn’t notice on screen,” Gough said.

The 2015 Cinderella gown was her favorite because of the amount of thought put into the construction. Lily James wore the gown in the 2015 iteration of the infamous “Cinderella.” 

“The details were so impressive and the inspirations behind all of them were so interesting. The Cinderella dress was literally made of 200 yards of silk or something to make it look like flowing water and it was so pretty,” Gough said. 

The costume was intended to appear weightless even though there were 200 yards of silk, as if she was floating. 

Whether you’re a fan of Disney, have a passion for costume design or are simply looking for Halloween costume inspiration, MoPoP’s Heroes and Villains exhibit may be worth a visit. 

Regular admission starts at $37 per person, though students who provide a school ID will qualify for a discount.