A lot of movies and TV shows try to contend with life in the social media era, a subject that tends to bore anyone who actually grew up in the social media era. But Belle, the newest anime from Academy Award nominated director Mamoru Hosoda, takes it a step further — diving head-first into an insecure high schoolers’ double life in the metaverse.
The stylish coming-of-age film tells the story of Suzu, a shy high school student in a rural village who enters “U,” a massive virtual world, where she becomes Belle, a gorgeous and chart-topping singer, in a Hannah Montana story for the metaverse age. One day, her concert is interrupted by a monstrous creature (who seems like a typical internet troll) chased by vigilantes. The mysterious creature is deemed a persona non grata, one who must be expelled from “U” at all costs. As the hunt escalates, Suzu is on her own quest to uncover the identity of the “beast” and discover her true self. “You may not be able to start over in the real world, but you can start over in the world of ‘U,’” Suzu says in the trailer.
The film screens both in its original Japanese and the new English dubbed version, which features the very familiar and beloved voices of Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer, OG Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford and The Good Place’s Manny Jacinto. And so far, people really love it — it got a 14-minute standing ovation at Cannes last year.
While Belle deals with bigger questions about one’s self, one’s own power, and the perils of technology and multiple worlds, it also has some breathtaking costumes. According to Hosoda, some of the film’s most stunning outfits are based on real-life dresses that were made for the film. Two of the Belle’s most stunning dresses look like blooming flowers come to life: a ruby dress with a large petal-like skirt that looks like wildflowers are blooming from its seams and a fuchsia gown that looks like a watercolored peony come to life. This focus on floral is intentional: The dresses were created by actual flower artist Megumi Shinozaki.
Director Mamoru Hosoda tapped flower artist Megumi Shinozaki to help design the whimsical costumes for Belle.
“Belle is a really strong character, so she wouldn’t wear ordinary clothes. That’s why we thought it would be better to ask a designer with no fashion background,” says Hosoda in a clip showing a behind-the-scenes look at the costumes, premiering today on NYLON. “We had to figure out how to dress a fictional character who wouldn’t wear anything ordinary. And having someone who enjoys that challenge elevated this film to a higher level.”
Besides the dresses, Belle also wears a beaded crystal headdress that looks simultaneously like a warrior’s helmet and a portable chandelier, which was designed by Kunihiko Morinaga, the founding designer of Anrealage.
The beadwork for Belle’s headdress was done by Kunihiko Morinaga, the founding designer of Anrealage.
“The film grew with the diversity of creative talent, and I really like that dynamism,” Hosoda says.
Learn more about the making of the costumes in the clip, below, and catch Belle in theaters, in both the original Japanese and English dub.