By Kristen Bateman
Sep 07, 2018 @ 9:00 am
Leah Kim as Maleficent; photo by Nadia Lee Cohen

In a New York City studio space in Midtown on a boiling hot August afternoon, Phillipe and David Blond are surrounded by all things Disney. Colorful print-outs of Ursula from The Little Mermaid are pinned on a black mood board. Feathers, sequins, silk flowers and beaded trims hang beside illustrations of what Maleficent might wear if she were a runway model.

The Blonds, a New York label with a cult following that’s known for bedazzled, bodycon pieces and wild corsets, are preparing for their Sept. 7 runway show during New York Fashion Week. Every single piece in the collection is inspired by a different Disney villain — the first time in NYFW history that a show like this has ever happened.

After being approached by Disney for the collaboration, David and Phillipe traveled to The Disney Archive Research library in Los Angeles to view the original sketches and sculpts behind each of the characters.

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“We got to see all the original artwork from the villains,” explains David, gesturing to sketches on his studio wall. “Ursula started off like the crayfish, and she went through all these different transformations until they had this idea of mixing her with Divine.”

Disney was instrumental in helping them learn the story behind each of their creations, and provided them with plenty of information on the characters’ backstories and mythologies.The Blonds’ interpretations of the Disney’s best villains include The Evil Queen, Ursula, Cruella de Vil and Maleficent. Flotsam and Jetsam, a throwback moment to Doctor Facilier of The Princess and the Frog, and The Queen of Hearts will also come down the runway.

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Disney movies have long-served as fashion inspiration for both David and Philippe. “You can still watch these movies today and they're still entertaining and amazing,” explains David. “The Evil Queen is the first villain you get introduced to when you're a kid. Then Cruella came later in our understanding and fascination with the fact that she was into fashion. And Maleficent is just amazing, she's just fabulous.”

The collection is a masterpiece, and includes bodysuits covered in mirrored paillettes and golden beading, a floor-length coat topped with black and white sequins that transform with a swipe of the hand, and an inky black corset embellished with crystals and winding horns of Maleficent  — replicas of the ones used in the eponymous film starring Angelina Jolie.

In order to take the looks from beloved animations to the runway, the Blonds kept their usual aesthetic and their fan base in mind. If Beyoncé — who’s worn The Blonds’ shimmering, spangled body-conscious corsets — became Ursula from The Little Mermaid, what would that look like? What if Katy Perry, another fan of the brand, shapeshifted into Maleficent? How could The Blonds transform Daphne Guinness into Cruella de Vil, complete with a fur coat and sky-high Louboutins? The Blonds has plenty in-store for their non-celebrity, slightly more subdued fan base: the collection also includes more approachable pieces like concert tour-style T-shirts and sweatshirts with villain emblems and structured shoulders.

“Each villain is morphing into one of our clients,” says David. “If Cruella was a singer now and in the real world, what would she wear? What would her style be like?”

As Phillipe sat stitching the last bit of mirrored tiles onto the Evil Queen (of Show White fame) bodysuit, David showed off a particular pièce de résistance of the collection: a mini dress depicting Cruella de Vil’s wild, unhinged expression in the infamous 101 Dalmations car chase scene. Eyes red, eyebrows arched and teeth grimacing, she’s decked out in crystals with black and white feathers for hair. The piece is so highly detailed, it looks like it could be in a museum — maybe it will be one day. Many of the garments involved hundreds of hours of work over the course of many weeks. Crystals and charms were all hand stitched on bodices, for example, and much of the work done on these pieces rivals that of couture.

“It's just interesting to us how the villains are sort of supposed to be secondary to the hero in the story,” David says, “But really what we want to do is make them the hero of our story for fashion week.”

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