This coming Friday, Disney is releasing the next instalment in the “Descendants” on Disney+.  The new film, “Descendants: The Rise of Red” follows the story of Red (Kylie Cantrall), the rebellious daughter of the Queen of Hearts (Rita Ora), and Chloe (Malia Baker), the perfectionist daughter of Cinderella (Brandy). The tyrannical Queen of Hearts incites a coup against Auradon and polar opposites Red and Chloe must join forces to stop her.

Recently, I spoke with Tony-nominated costume designer Emilio Sosa, who designed the costumes for “Descendants: The Rise of Red”, and who explained some of the process of making the movie.


How did you get involved in working on “Descendants: The Rise Of Red”?

They found me out, the producers, they were familiar with my theatrical work cause I’ve been in the theater for a very long time. And then they found me and looked me up and asked me was I interested in having a conversation with them. I said yes, of course. Then I ran to my computer and watched every descendant movie I could find before the first initial interview and I was taken by the style. They’re so stylized that, and it’s different from my aesthetic that I thought it would be an amazing challenge for me to be involved in such an amazing project. So it was something I hadn’t done. It was an opportunity that I was ready for and I just said yes.

I was going to ask if you went back to watch the “Descendants” and classic movies for some inspiration, or did you want to do something different?

That’s interesting, that type of designer. I don’t like to do too much research about what’s been done before because as an artist, I’m a sponge really. I just absorb energy. I absorbed creatively, visually. So I watched enough to know the characters, but I didn’t want to get too immersed. I didn’t want to repeat anything subconsciously, which as an artist, that happens all the time.

You had to design some very different costumes with the older cast, like Brandy & Rita Ora; how did you approach making the costumes different?

Oh my, first of all, I was such a fan of Brandy first of all, from the jump and to have an opportunity to dress her was the lifetime experience. The same thing with Rita Aura, but I love the idea, you know what, I grew up on Disney. I think if you’re in the us, if you’re American at some point you grew up on the wonderful world of Disney on Sunday. So the Disney aesthetic was always in my brain. So what I loved about the film is that we’re taking these younger characters that are derivative from the original characters. So it’s always great to put a spin on it. But yeah, I wanted to definitely, it’s two generations and I think that’s what, that’s the core of the movie. It’s a new generation. So I wanted to honor what had been in the past, but definitely move it forward. So this movie is very special for those who first experienced it. Now this is their descendants, the rights of red. It’s not just another version of what they’ve seen before.

What was it like transitioning from working on Broadway to working on a movie?

And I kept thinking about that. The greatest, for me, the greatest learning curve is that theater. When you go to the theater, you experience the entire stage in front of you, so you are seeing the entire world. So everything matters as far as what color is the sofa, the curtains, the chairs, anything that your character comes across to. While it does matter in the cinema world, the camera’s right here, the camera is super, super, super close. For example, I always give an example of a button on stage, a button. Some people might notice a red button, some might not notice a red button on a shirt on camera. In the movies, that button becomes five foot tall. So you do notice the details and that’s the biggest difference. I went from big macro to micro. Every little detail mattered. The color of the thread that we use to sew the collar, the beads on the necklace, the zipper, every little detail on screen matters. And that, for me, was the biggest adjustment. I’m used to big, big productions where my closest audience is 30 to 50 feet away, so I have a lot of leeway in film. The camera’s right there, so you got to be more precise.

What was your biggest highlight working on “Descendants: The Rise Of Red”?

For me, the biggest highlight besides working with someone like Brandy and Rita Aura and all of these amazing actors was just the scope of this film. I had never worked on a film with so many layers of technology. You have your green screen stuff, you have 40 50 extras in soldier costumes. You have an entire campus of school kids from different parts of the world. The world that we were creating was so much larger than I had experience in the theater. And for me it’s a challenge that I loved and enjoyed. I’m surprised I enjoyed it so much because there’s so much work and logistics that goes into it and every decision matters and I enjoy that kind of pressure.


What was your biggest challenge on working on the film?

The speed of how things are made, how films are shot. It’s so fast theater, I have rehearsal. I have what we call tech rehearsals and then I have previews before we open a show. So I have a lot of time to look at my work and finesse and pick and on film. When that sucker is in front of the camera, and they shoot it, that’s what it is. Doesn’t matter whether you have the wrong earring on or you missed a belt loop. All those things are what the audience will see. So the pressure of getting it right the first time is what really drove me to really focus and really get in the moment of the film. Because like I said, in theater, I have weeks to fix my work if I want to. In the film, you have maybe one time for a camera test, and then you fix it, and then you shoot it. So you have to really be precise with your choices and have a really clear vision of what the character is.

How many costumes did you make for the film?

Oh my God. I would say that there’s over 500 costumes. It’s big, I mean, one thing, we’re creating new worlds, so every world has its own color story, his own identifiables, the style. So it was fun. Like I said, we, I think we had a 50, no, maybe like 30,000 square foot warehouse in Atlanta. That was the costume hub and it had my studio, my workshop, our background people. I mean, it was a hub. Hub. It was like a city, pardon me, A city within a city.


Is there one particular outfit that you’re most proud of?

Well, choosing outfits is choosing your children. You love them all. I know it’s like, it’s so corny to say you love them all, but I must say I’m super proud of what we did for Kylie as Red. I think her stuff, it’s really super cool in a sense. It’s kind of hard because you’re trying to project what the fashion is going to be for the next two years before you, but my fashion designer background helped me with that. But also what we did for Rita as the red queen, we did some really, really, really, really special pieces. Also, brandy, I mean we did some beautiful custom embroidery on her gown.  I love it all and for separate reasons and that’s why I love what I do and I do what I do. It’s a unique career path or lifestyle. I’ve been in the theater my entire adult life and this is just the next step, the next phase.

“Descendants: The Rise of Red” premieres Friday, 12th July 2024, exclusively on Disney+, and it will be followed by a special encore on Friday, 9th August 2024, at 8:00 p.m. EDT/PDT on Disney Channel.

Which “Descendants” costume is your favourite?  Let me know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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