Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Princess Diaries movies - Places & Costumes

Q: My girls and I absolutely adore the Princess Diaries movies, especially the first one. Where were the Genovia scenes filmed? Where are the beautiful gowns worn at the ball by Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway?
Janice, Cumberland, Rhode Island 

A [Dave Smith]: The scenes of Genovia were actually filmed in Southern California, using a combination of actual locations, including Disney's Golden Oak Ranch, and matte paintings. The back of the palace with its gardens was filmed at a palatial estate in Pasadena. The palace interiors were filmed in five sound stages at Universal Studios. Surprisingly, some interior shots were filmed at the same sound stage at the Disney Studio where Julie Andrews had filmed Mary Poppins. We have the elegant ball gowns in the Archives. 

[Marcio Disney]
Disney's Golden Oak Ranch

About the Costumes
 The elegant, intimidating world of Queen Clarisse Renaldi is quite a contrast to Mia's cozy home, and is reflected not only in the furnishings of the environment, but in the clothing worn by Julie Andrews as Clarisse.

Costume designer Gary Jones, whose designs for the film range from choosing the look for Mia's plaid school uniform to a series of elegant ball gowns, has worked with Garry Marshall before, and was thrilled to join "The Princess Diaries" creative team.

"I initially accepted the film because of Garry Marshall, and then I realized that it was a costume designer's dream come true," recalls Jones. "There's a princess and a royal ball - it's a costume piece. And as for Julie Andrews, she's a dream, and she makes anything I've done on this film 300 times better."

Jones worked closely with Andrews on the designs for Clarisse's everyday wear as well as for the state dinner and elegant formal ball featured in the story.

"We made many clothes for her which paid homage to some of the classic designers - there's a Chanel-like suit, several Bill Blass inspired items, and queen Clarisse's ball gown is like Dior," says Jones. "The dress Clarisse wears to the state dinner is a bit of an homage to the gown she wore to the ball as Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady" on Broadway. It's made of silk gauze and beads, which was handmade in China and arrived in the nick of time to complete the dress."

Jones also collaborated with Anne Hathaway on Mia's changing look throughout the film.

"We decided that Mia was shy about her body, and because of that, she would wear layers, long sleeves, and be more covered than the other students," notes Jones. "The first chance she gets to really shine is at the state dinner at the Genovian Consulate - and although she blows it with a variety of social blunders — she looks breathtaking."

The dress was inspired by one Jones had seen on the young princess of Sweden, and was made from a four-ply periwinkle blue silk crepe, with a standing collar, "a bow to the Renaissance and Romeo and Juliet," says Jones.

No royal tale would be complete without lavish jewels, and Jones worked with Harry Winston for the loan of several unique pieces - which were accompanied at all times by a security person situated just off-stage to keep an eye on the precious gems.

"We had a lot of wattage going on for the ball," recalls Jones. "We accessorized Julie Andrews' peach taffeta ballgown with an extraordinary diamond and platinum necklace which was almost 100 carats of diamonds, set in four rows, along with classic cluster earrings, which were about three carats each."

For the state dinner, Andrews wore an 18-carat pear-shaped platinum and diamond ring, which was so striking, it became part of the scene.

"We all got such a kick out of that ring that it joined the cast," laughs Jones. "The ring got its own shot, with its own light!"

"My point of view of this story is that Mia is a princess, and has always been a princess, she just doesn't realize it yet," notes production designer Mayne Berke. "She just has a self-esteem problem, but she has all the qualities of a princess."


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