When it comes to costuming, it can really make or break a television show or a movie. When it comes a movie or a television show with the name Salvador Perez attached you can count on his costuming adding to the project versus taking away from it.
So when it came to Hocus Pocus 2, there was no one better to hire to bring the Sanderson sisters into the modern age like Salvador Perez. He’s worked on such projects as Castle, Veronica Mars, the Hulu series Four Weddings and a Funeral, Netflix’s Never Have I Ever and feature films like Pitch Perfect 1, 2 & 3, Think Like a Man 1 & 2, Men of Honor, Drumline, Goosebumps 2 and Senior Year.
There is no one more detailed when it comes to creating a characters look than Perez. The costume designer is the President of the Costume Designers Guild, on his third term. He’s a favorite of Mindy Kaling‘s, having worked with her on The Mindy Project, and her show HBO Max’s Sex Lives of College Girls.
It’s his costume work on The Mindy Project that solidified him as one of our favorites.
We spoke with him about his latest project, bringing the Sanderson sisters into 2022.
Q: What part of the style of the Sanderson sisters from the original film was important to you to maintain in this sequel and why?
We wanted to honor the iconic costumes by costume designer Mary Vogt, but give them an updated look. We couldn’t change their colors or their silhouettes, but we wanted to give the costumes more meaning. The original symbols on Winnifred’s coat were made up symbols. I wanted the new costumes so have a back story, so the symbols are related to Wiccan culture: the 3 moons, the 3 goddesses and a coven. I also used the symbols on the Mother Witch’s costume as if she inspired Winnifred’s look. I used the broach on the Mother Witch as the buckle on Winnie’s coat. Sarah’s costume got a much more lavish embroidery design, with thorny branches and spiders, and her sleeves were hand crocheted spiderwebs made of cashmere yarn. The rings on Mary’s bodice now have the words Water, Air, Earth and Fire in Sigils, the alphabet of the Magi. I used beautiful silks in the costumes so they had movement when they danced and flew. I used the same lightweight silk habotai from the original capes for their new capes so they floated in the wind. Then everything got a layer of crystals so they had sparkle.
Q: In the costuming of the cast, how did you pay homage to the original – including to actors that aren’t in the sequel? Are there any subtle homages to Disney that we may have missed?
One detail that people have not picked up on is the Mickey silhouette on Winnifred’s coat: the buckle is placed just under 2 embroidered circles that form the silhouette of Mickey Mouse. We also dressed a few extras in costumes worn by extras in the first film lile the trio of red sequin dresses as The Supremes. Lucas the announcer at the costume festival is inspired by the skeleton announcer in the first film. And of course the woman dressed as Madonna. Gilbert’s velvet cloak was a nod to Mickey in Fantasia.
Q: Part of the beauty of your costumes is that they tell a story and/or project characteristics of the characters. One thing we loved was the use of color – the brightening of each character’s costume from the original. Can you talk a little about your love of color in costuming and why you feel people should or shouldn’t incorporate into their wardrobe?
Costume design is storytelling. I wanted to show the sheer joy of Halloween in the bright and colorful costumes. The movie takes place at night in the dark, so I wanted to make sure you could see everyone in the darkness. We added crystals and sparkles to everyone to add to the magic. If I was allowed, I would have even crystalized Billy Butcherson! Using colorful clothes is sort of my signature, you will see it in a lot of my work. I just think you feel better and are instantly in a better mood when you wear colors. Black is a crutch and it can be a bit depressing, so even when I wear black, I like to add accessories that brighten the look.
Hocus Pocus is a timeless classic. Do you feel a pressure in taking on a project that you know has a huge fan base?
It’s a daunting task to take on a design job where the costumes are so iconic, and the fans have been recreating these looks for decades. So they know the details so well, you could not just change them without giving a meaning to them. I needed to find the balance of re-inventing these costumes but still honoring their history. So I made the costumes more lavish with luxury fabrics, hand embroidered details, custom-made shoes and jewelry.
What are the essential pieces that one should have if they want to create a Sanderson sister look in today’s time?
Much like I did with the new costumes, stick to the silhouette and colors, have fun with it and add your own personality to your costume. Follow the essence of the costume – you don’t have to duplicate it. Use what you have at home! For Sarah’s modern updated flying broomstick, no one has a mop at home anymore, but many people have a Swiffer WetJet. It’s the modern upgrade to Sarah’s costume and as a bonus, you can use it to clean up afterwards!
Hocus Pocus 2 is streaming now on Disney+. You can read our review HERE.