From its dreamy aesthetics to the optimistic storyline, Mamoru Hosoda’s 2021 anime film Belle presents an alternative take on a familiar sci-fi premise – the rise of AI. Instead of a dystopian landscape filled with cyberpunk touches, we’re introduced to U, a virtual reality platform in which everyone can realize their fantasy selves through avatars. When mousy high school student Suzu (voiced by singer Kaho Nakamura) enters the virtual world of U, she becomes globally beloved pop star Belle. In the process, she’s drawn into a high-stakes friendship with a mysterious and anti-social figure nicknamed “The Beast.” Part cyber adventure and part heartwarming drama, Belle suggests that experimenting with online personas may help unlock our true potential.
Filled with fairytale visuals rendered in a joyful palette, the movie offers plenty of S/S fashion inspo. Nodding to our heroine’s glamorous online avatar as well as her sweet and shy offline persona, I’ve assembled three looks in pink, red and white that strike a balance between flamboyant and grounded. Fit for everything from tête-à-têtes with your BFFs to dancing at summer music festivals, these ensembles radiate romance and just the right amount of sass.
1. A Fairytale Entrance
MISHI CLUB – Puff-Sleeve Shirred Midi A-Line Dress | Bolitin – Faux Patent Leather Platform Oxfords
rolarola – Heart-Pendant Faux-Pearl Necklace | 3CE – Face Blush | Cottonet – Frill Trim Socks
Spring is all about floaty fabrics, pastel colors and feel-good vibes, which are all in abundance in Belle. Almost every outfit worn by the main character’s avatar seems tailor-made for a fantasy date. Dreamiest of all is Belle’s original look, a computer-generated manifestation of Suzu’s best self. Sassy yet serene, it combines an ultra-femme silhouette with a few transcendental touches – floaty A-line skirts, crystal accessories and cotton candy hair.
Referencing Suzu’s outsider status as well as her transformation into the picture-perfect Belle, I created a look that blends classic princess style with a few grungy touches, courtesy of a voluminous, pale pink midi dress paired with chunky oxfords. Soften things up by adding a faux pearl necklace and frilly socks to the look. For makeup, liberally apply blush if you want to go bold with a drunk blush look.
2. Pop Princess Vibes
Omelia – Gingham Camisole Top | DABAGIRL – Bootcut Pants | Tambrae – Chain Strap Flap Shoulder Bag
Carmilla – Ribbon Straw Hat | iswas – Floral Corsage Slippers | 3CE – Plumping Lips
As Belle grows more confident as a singer, she gradually rediscovers her voice. Signaling this shift, her aesthetic moves towards deep and rich colors such as camel brown, burgundy and mauve, as well as bolder silhouettes. In contrast to her original ethereal look, her outfit composed of blooming red flowers provides a literal take on the concept of spring florals. Oozing cottagecore vibes amidst a futuristic background, it vibes perfectly with Belle’s sensual singing voice.
My take on Belle’s pop princess look utilizes a similar palette, but keeps things low-key rather than flamboyant. A simple gingham camisole top and white bootcut pants anchor a combo fitting for a spring picnic. For a hint of drama, I added a wide-brimmed straw hat and boxy shoulder bag boasting gold-tone hardware. The pièce de résistance? Straw slides embellished with fabric corsages that echo the movie’s lush visuals. Seal the deal with a slick of lip plumper for a pop star-worthy finish.
3. Schoolgirl Meets Diva
LIPHOP – Bolero-Style Zip-Up Cardigan | DABAGIRL – Pleated Midi Skirt | Shanhoo – Platform Sneakers
BABOSARANG – Boy-Illustrated Shopper Bag | Admae – Button Stud Earrings
The Saem – Saemmul Essential Tint Lip Balm | LIDO – Alloy Hair Clip
At first glance, Suzu and Belle couldn’t be more different from each other, just as the vibrant visuals of the virtual world starkly contrast with the muted colors of the real world. As the movie progresses, however, Suzi’s bolder and more flamboyant side comes to the fore. This ensemble, a sassed-up take on schoolgirl chic, nods to both sides of the same character.
This look fitting for an off-duty pop princess pairs a dreamy, midriff-baring cardigan with a preppy pleated midi boasting clean lines. Add a curation of whimsical accessories to the mix, such as button-shaped earrings radiating retro vibes, flower-shaped hair clips made of faux pearls, and a sweet and quirky canvas tote bag. Slip into chunky white sneakers for a sporty touch, and for subtle glam, don’t forget to juice up your lips with a sheer wash of color.
Gales of Song, Guide Me Through the Storm
This anime film from Mamoru Hosoda’s Studio Chizu is many things – a playful riff on Beauty and the Beast, a moving study on grief, and a reminder that sci-fi doesn’t always have to be all doom and gloom. Most of all, Suzu’s journey through U shows that adopting an online persona and being immersed in social media can have benefits – whether that’s taking refuge in a computer-generated castle, rediscovering the courage to sing, or honing our style with a little virtual dress-up.
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