As Esmeralda been adapted for different versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, she has wore red a lot.

Esmeralda & Phoebus Illustartion picture image

Esmeralda & Phoebus Illustartion

The first couple adaptations La Esmeralda (the opera and the Ballet)  her costumes has red details.

Costume design for La Esmeralda Opera 1831 picture image

Costume design for La Esmeralda Opera 1831

 

In 1839, Belgium Painter, Antoine Wiertz depicted her in all red.

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wiertz

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wiertz

In 1870 ballerina, Adelina Patti, is depicted in a costume with a red skirt. The Ballets runs the gambit of colors from blue to green to pink though red seems to be the popular color choice.

Adelina Patti as Esmeralda 1870 picture image

Adelina Patti as Esmeralda 1870

 

Paloma Herrera as La Esmeralda Ballet picture image

Paloma Herrera as La Esmeralda Ballet

La Esmeralda Ballet picture image

La Esmeralda Ballet

La Esmeralda Ballet with Phoebus picture image

La Esmeralda Ballet with Phoebus

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not till we get to the movies that we see red surfacing as the dominate color for her. The 1923 movie has at least two instances of a colorized posters one is yellow and purple and the other has red details.

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Poster picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1939 despite Walter Plunkett’s design being mostly blue with red details and a red vest the coloration of her dress on a poster is all red.

Walter Plunkett design Costume for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Plunkett’s costume design for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Movie poster for 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Movie poster for 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though to be fair there are a few posters  where she wears green and blue, but there is more red.

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939 Poster picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939 Poster

Movie poster for 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Movie poster for 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1956 version Esmeralda wears all red for most of the movie.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956

But I find it curious that she wears yellow at her ill-fated meeting with Phoebus over red.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 picture

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1996 Disney version Esmeralda wears red during her dance performance but for most part she wears purple.  I do have to wonder if Anne-Marie Bardwell had something to do with Esmeralda wearing purple throughout the movie as she was  credited in Character Design/ Visual Development and one of the animators on Esmeralda.

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image red dress

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame Dancing

Though she wears red/dark pink in Der Glockner von Notre Dame the German musical.

 

Esmeralda dancing Der Glöckner von Notre Dame Picture Image

Esmeralda Dancing Der Glöckner von Notre Dame

 

 

In Notre Dame de Paris Esmeralda wears green but there is one red dress that was wore  for advertising for the London cast and the 2001 French cast. This dress is only wore once on stage in the Russian version during her meeting with Phoebus. And even in the 2010/2011 concerts Helene Segara wore red to sing the musical.

Tina Arena As Esmeralda in the Promotional Red Dress Notre Dame de Paris 2000 London Castpicture image

Tina Arena As Esmeralda in the Promotional Red Dress Notre Dame de Paris 2000 London Cast

Helene Segara performing Bohemienne at Bercy Concert picture image

Helene Segara performing Bohemienne at Bercy Concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently in the new illustration novel by Benjamin Lacombe and the  Graphic Novel by Robin Recht and Jean Bastide, Esmeralda wears red.

Esmeralda by Benjamin Lacombe Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda by Benjamin Lacombe Notre Dame de Paris

Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris Graphic Novel by Robin Recht and Jean Bastide picture image

Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris Graphic Novel by Robin Recht and Jean Bastide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you look at all these instances, why is red her default color? Is it because green is too obvious for her given that her name means Emerald and red is opposite color to green making it the non-obvious choice? Seems a rather simplistic design notion for a costume, especially when one thinks that the color red is in total opposition to her as character.

Esmeralda Statuette by Armani picture image

Esmeralda Statuette by Armani

 

The color red typically is associated in Western cultural with  passion, desire, love and sexuality. Esmeralda’s personality is lighthearted, innocent, naive and modest. She doesn’t seem the type character to outwardly express her sexuality because even though she inspires desire in others, she herself is unaware of it.

Red is also in opposition of Esmeralda’s allegorical role as the Virgin Mary who traditionally wears either wears blue or turquoise.

Red also seems to age Esmeralda, her main point of interest in the novel is her youth, blue and green are more youthful colors but red comes off as mature.

Finally in the Romani culture, red is a color of ill omen as it’s associated with Blood (The Lure of the Gypsy Culture ) Though maybe the costume is meant her to  be ironic like she is subconsciously giving her in to tragic fate, though she lives more often than she dies and I don’t think the costume designers are that clever or that cerebral.

Shirel as Esmeralda in the Red with Laurent Ban as Phoesbus Notre Dame de Paris 2001 French Cast picture image

Shirel as Esmeralda in the Red with Laurent Ban as Phoesbus Notre Dame de Paris 2001 French Cast

 

However, maybe this whole matter is quite simple, does Esmeralda wear red in the book?
In the book there are  only a few instances where her clothing is described. When Gringoire first sees her, she is wearing a golden bodice (Book 2 chapter 3 Kisses for Blows) Frollo mentions that she wears blue when he first saw her dance (Book 8 chapter 4 Lasciate Ogni Speranza) and of course she wears white in the later part of the story when she condemn to die and brought into Notre Dame.

I think there maybe an instance of her wearing a multicolored skirt but I can’t find the instance in the book and her necklace that contains her baby shoe is stung with red seed beads,  other that she does not wear red. So why is she in red since red is in total opposition to her as character and there is no precedence for it in the novel.

Auguste Couder's Painting of Frollo stabbing Phoebus picture image

Auguste Couder’s Painting of Frollo stabbing Phoebus

If Esmeralda doesn’t wear in the book and it’s a color that is against every aspect of her character why does red seem to be the color of choice for her.

One reason I think is red is an easy color choice to make for when a character is suppose to stand out and be thought as desirable. There might be another level, Esmeralda is a Gypsy, this gives her an sense of exoticism and one popular style of art in the 19th century was Orientalism. Orientalism in art meant depicted exotic sense from place that were exotic to Europeans. The paintings use a lot of rich colors and a lot of red especially for women.

Une Beaute Prientale by Paul de la Boulaye picture image

Une Beaute Prientale by Paul de la Boulaye

 

So her being in red could mean that the costume designers are saying Esmeralda is an exotic beauty who is sexual desirable even though Victor Hugo meant for Esmeralda to work against the stereotype, why else would he have Gringoire said this to Frollo about her;

I certainly  consider it a great rarity to find such nun-like prudery fiercely maintained in the midst of those gipsy girls, who are so easily tamed” (Book 7, chapter 2). Esmeralda’s purity is part of her allure and to have her wearing red more less bastardizes the point of  her character

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wilhelm Marstrand

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wilhelm Marstrand

Red is just the wrong color for Esmeralda as a character and is it far too over done to be her dominant color anymore, details are fine but it’s too much red  but in over 170 years worth of adaptations it has become a boring cliche. I think this  is a cliche that need to at very least ebb. Costume designers of newer Hunchback adaptions if you read this please consider using different colors and if you must use red make it details or at the very least  try a different tone it doesn’t always have to fire engine red.

Esmeralda and Frollo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda mocks Frollo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Esmeralda is the most divergent character in the Disney version from the book in both looks and personality. I already talked about her personality, now let’s look at her looks.

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Disney Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame dancing

 

 

The Disney Esmeralda looks 100% Romani (Gypsy). She has a darker complexion, dark hair, and light green eyes (with no glint). Her eyes also do not change color pending on how much light is in the space, which kind of makes them look witchy.  She keeps her hair pulled back and the way she does it, it creates a big poof. This poof makes her look older. When her hair is down she looks younger. Her hair also has a slight curl. Though in the middle of the epic running away from Frollo, her hair looks straight but that could just  be inconsistencies in animation or the wind, take your pick. But it does look straight.

 

 

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda complimenting Quaismodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Her age is very vague. Most of the Disney characters have a rough age range or they just say how old they are like Ariel and Jasmine. With this shift in Disney heroines being somewhat more independent and less dreamy, they appear to be older than the typical “Disney princess” (except Tiana, I would say she is like a compromise between the archetypal Princess and the confident independent heroine of the late nineties). The question is how old is Disney’s Esmeralda. With the age inflation that Disney implements, I’d say she most likely 22 at the youngest, which is old for a Disney heroine. The long and short of it is, Esmeralda is meant to be older like “she’s been around.” This is not my phasing, watch the commentary, it’s the scene where Esmeralda is helping Quasimodo from the pillory. To listen to the commentary, The DVD

 

19th Century Illustration of Esmeralda with Djali

19th Century Illustration of Esmeralda with Djali

Disney Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame Dance picture Image

Esmeralda’s Dance Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

Against the original novel by Victor Hugo, Esmeralda’s looks are very different. Esmeralda is never described in graphic detail but she’s described as very beautiful frequently by many characters. Disney Esmeralda is meant to be beautiful certainly (what Disney main female character isn’t?) but she is never called beautiful in the movie. The closest mention to her looks is Clopin saying she’s “The Finest Girl is France.”

Esmeralda Illustration Image picture

19th century Illustration of Esmeralda

Disney Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame Dance picture image

Esmeralda’s Dance Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esmeralda in the book is not 100% Romani (Gypsy). Her mother is a French women and while her Father could have been a Gypsy, it is never actually mentioned who was her father. Esmeralda has a golden skin tone, black hair and black eyes. Part of Esmeralda’s charm in the book is her innocence and her total unawareness of her own beauty. Disney Esmeralda is the complete and utter opposite; she knows her appeal, exploits it and given that quote by the director Kirk Wise that I mention earlier, I’m not sure how innocent is in the movie. (I still wonder if the production actually read the book or just confused it with other Hunchback films) So it safe to say that Disney did not use Hugo for even  a basis of Esmeralda’s design.

 

Concept Art for Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Concept Art for Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Concept Art for Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Concept Art for Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Concept Art for Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Concept Art for Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the concept art, Esmeralda started off looking more youthful and somehow along the way she lost  the youthful look. My guess the vocal inspiration turned the tables on the character design. Alas Demi’s Moore doesn’t sound youthful, at least not when the film was recording the voices. For More Concept Art of Hunchback

 

 

Esmeralda and Frollo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda giving Frollo a peck on the nose Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

It’s actually not Disney’s fault that Esmeralda’s looks/acts sexy whereas Hugo’s Esmeralda  did not. The fault lies in the film history of Hunchback movies. Esmeralda has long been depicted as sexy or at least no stranger to  feminine charms. Esmeralda has also been depicted by actresses who are more known for their sex appeal over acting prowess. Such actresses have been Stacia Napierkowska, Theda Bara, Gina Lollobrigida and Salma Hayak. Also Disney models their characters after the voice actor playing them, so with the choice of Demi Moore it was  inevitable that Disney Esmeralda was going to be sexy and follow the line of sexy Esmeraldas.

In a featurette of the movie, Moore said she could see herself in Esmeralda’s animation. While Disney took their cues from the 1939 version, I think Esmeralda’s look was based somewhat on Gina Lollobrigida’s Esmeralda  as well as Demi Moore (maybe, I can’t really tell, I haven’t seen a ton of Moore’s films discern her mannerism and/or acting style in Esmeralda’s animation.)

Demi Moore image picture

Demi Moore

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image red dress

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 image picture

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Time Phoebus

Phoebus Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame