The costumes of the ballet are just so fascinating. First of there are no tutus in this production everything is very streamline and mod which fits the era. Though It was a little early for the trend of mod but we will get to that.
The first area of interest is the use of colors and the lack of colors. The principal roles mostly wear neutrals. Quasimodo wears brown, Frollo wears black, Esmeralda wears white with black details in first act and purple in the second and Phoebus wears white with a touch of blue. The corps de ballet are the one who wears the colors. So the principal dancers do stand out.
Yves St Laurent, the fashion designer, designed the costume and said that he was inspired by stained glass windows and also Mondrian. Mondrian was a dutch modernist painter from the early 20th century and was part of the De Stijl movement.
What I find really fascinating is around 1965 Yves St Laurent did a collection that was inspired by Mondrian which really shaped the fashion of the late 60’s. So did his work on Notre Dame de Paris inspired that collection or was it a case of it all just happening at the same time? In an interview Yves St Laurent did site Mondrian as an inspiration for Phoebus’ costume. So did the ballet have an impact on late 1960’s fashion as it help inspired Yves St Laurent? Maybe.
Also I should point out that Yves St Laurent also said that Quasimodo’s costume was inspired by frescos. So everything was inspired by cathedral elements which is perfection.
Getting back to the costumes Esmeralda and Phoebus’ their costumes have a extra layer that is pulled off to imply nudity during their tryst which is very interesting and surprising. I do love it when costumes are interactive and part of the narrative, like Cinderella’s transforming dress in Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella or even when Christine Daae gets her big skirt put on during Think of me in Phantom.
One aspect that I find slightly puzzling is while I don’t mind Esmeralda in white at the start of the Ballet, as it’s the conscious decision to put the principles in neutral, I don’t get why she wears dark purple in the second act. In a pure sense of the novel Esmeralda wears white while she in Notre Dame but here it’s purple. It’s a pretty shade but the decision is weird. If I were to venture guess I would say that the reason is very simple as that dark purple color is a very prominent color in the stained glass windows especially the South Rose window. Plus Esmeralda does not need to stand out as much as the corps de ballet has less to do with the second act. So maybe it’s not such a weird decision.
All in all the costumes are very in keeping with a 1960’s point of view and burgeoning styles of the later parts of the decade. However I love that Yves St Laurent went for his inspiration and combine it with the modern aesthetic of the time to create a real look for this ballet that is wholly unique.
Also is you look up Yves St Laurent you get a pair of earring that fit Esmeralda perfectly. Perfect for Disneybounding if you got the funds.