How ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Weaves Disney History into the Sanderson Sisters’ New Costumes

Disney’s Hocus Pocus 2, the long-awaited sequel to the timeless Halloween classic, debuts today exclusively on Disney+. The action-comedy follows the wonderfully evil Sanderson sisters – Winifred (Disney Legend Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy) – as they run amok in modern-day Salem. Twenty-nine years have passed since someone last lit a candle of black flame, bringing the witches back to life—and now the sisters are back to prevent revenge.

At first glance, it may seem that the witches look exactly the same as when Hocus Pocus came out in 1993. However, for the sequel, the creators wanted their costumes to look similar to the originals, but not actual replicas. “We wanted to bring their look to life,” says costume designer Salvador Perez. “Plus, the witches fell apart at the end of the first movie, so they’d need new costumes anyway.”

Perez and his team wanted to study the original costumes and make a detailed assessment of each outfit before reshaping and updating them for the sequel. At the time, the costumes were on display at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle as part of the Walt Disney Archives’ Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibit. “The original costumes are in the Disney archives,” explains Perez, “but there was only one costume for each actor.”

After extensive research, Perez continued research to update the characters’ costumes. For Winifred, he painted her coat and embroidered it with metallic threads and crystals. The symbols on her dress are based on the Wiccan mythology of the three moons, which also symbolize the three sisters. “I incorporated the eye as a reference to The Book of Spells, and the ravens on the coals are inspired by the witch [Hannah Waddingham] who first appeared as a raven,” says Perez.

Director Anne Fletcher adds: “The symbols on all three witches’ dresses, especially Winifred’s, mean something. In the 1600s, this version of witchcraft was tied to the earth, the ocean, and the stars. It was all tied together. You can see it all reflected in things like Winifred’s cloak or Mary’s rings.’

According to Perez, the clasp on Winifred’s coat contains a malachite stone from a jewelry store in Providence, Rhode Island, where the sequel was filmed, and the same jewelry store also provided the stones for her brooch.

Winifred’s shoes in the original film were off the rack and a toe was later used – but Perez wanted to take that look further in the sequel. “I went to a master shoemaker at the Western Costume Company who hand-made her pointed-toe shoes,” she says, “and they’re one of my favorite parts of her costume.”

While evaluating Sarah’s original bodice from the Walt Disney Archives, Perez noticed that it was made of embroidered fabric that had been cut. For her updated look, Perez hand-embroidered Sarah’s bodice with a floral and thorn motif and incorporated spiders throughout the design to emphasize her love of eight-legged spiders. “The original sleeves were made of netting, which was not a period detail, but Anne Fletcher liked the spider idea, so we decided to make the sleeves from individually crocheted webs that were joined together to form the sleeves. ” he says. “Then I found French Chantilly lace that had the same pattern as the original front of the skirt, and the rest of the skirt is made of layers of dyed chiffon and organza.”

Since Mary’s original costume was very heavy, Najimy requested that it be lighter for the sequel. “I wanted the fabrics to be more authentic to the period, so we found a tartan flannel that was similar to the original fabric, which we dyed and added crystals to,” says Perez. “The original rings on her bodice were just decorative, but I wanted them to have some meaning, so we made them out of hammered brass and had the Wiccan words for earth, fire, wind and water carved into them.”

In Hocus Pocus 2, the Sanderson sisters each have two costumes, with each having six to eight different versions for stunts, flying, doubles, and so on. Designed to blow in the wind, these three witches’ cloaks are made from Habotai silk and each uses 26 yards of fabric that has been double layered and embellished with Swarovski crystals.

The new costumes are sure to wow audiences — and Midler, for one, can’t wait to see how fans recreate and reinterpret them. “I look forward to it every year,” he says. “I’m just laughing and laughing. People are sending and posting pictures. I’m thinking of it!”

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