Frozen is an epic tale of adventure and comedy from Walt Disney Animation Studios. In the film, fearless optimist Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey to find her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna teams up with a rugged mountain man named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) to battle the elements in a frantic race to save the kingdom.
With Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Blu-ray and DVD of Frozen about to be released, we had the chance to chat with Danilo – hair designer and consultant for Elsa’s hair– to discuss what went into the creation of her beautiful snowy hair (made of 400,000 computer-generated threads).
How did you become involved in being a hair consultant for Elsa’s hair in Disney’s Frozen?
I was contacted by the Frozen filmmakers to see if I’d be interested in the project. They wanted to collaborate with a hairdresser to explore creating the hair as it truly is and how it responds.
What was your preparation process like?
Preparing for Frozen is like preparing for any movie, in the sense that you first need to study the character and analyze her truths; her daily habits, her lifestyle and what nuances pervade her overall look and style. For instance, Elsa is a princess born with a special power and her character changes as the story progresses – when she is in an overwhelmed state of mind and her powers are concealed she has one look, and then she transfigures into a whole new look once she lets her powers be known.
What was your first day like?
Upon arrival at Disney, I was sequestered in an incredible studio set up especially for Frozen and its characters. The room had blown-up images of my work on the wall, including ones of a particular client of mine who also happens to have beautiful platinum hair. It really is no surprise that they had gone to that level of detail. After all, it is Disney! My assistants and I set up our tripod, mannequin heads and our platinum wigs all in a row, and began the construction of 3 to 4 styles inspired by Elsa’s character at different stages in the movie.
Disney prepared everything for us, turned on the music and left us while cameras documented the work we were doing. They then returned after two or three hours with the director, producer, and all those involved artistically at this development stage.
Which filmmakers did you work with throughout the process?
I was delighted that the individuals who were artistically involved at this stage included the two animators responsible for the hair in Tangled.
After constructing and developing hairstyles for viewing purposes, I was introduced to a live model so I could showcase the hair designs to the Disney entourage.
It was at this point that the directors, producer, animators, and costume-designers arrived. The designers who transform onscreen animated figures into costumed characters for the Disney parks were there as well.
How does a live model help the creation process?
Using a live model is extremely helpful for demonstrating the character’s transitions through her hairstyles. With the model I was able to show real hair blowing in the wind and to show how to fold it into a chignon (twisted bun) — all of which are stages and features of Elsa’s particular hairstyle. This was all documented by handheld cameras, with me explaining Elsa’s hair and hairstyles, and describing her evolution in the story.
How would you describe Elsa’s hairstyle?
Elsa’s hairstyle consisted of a tousled pompadour (hair swept upwards from the face and worn high over the forehead) flowing back into a thick mane of asymmetrically braided hair. I likened the pompadour to the silhouette of a crown.
She transforms from Princess to Queen with her side braided chignon, and the bouffant height of her pompadour is an outward example of her confident and powerfully regal status, ready to lead as queen, hopefully happily ever after.
What is it like being a part of the Disney family now?
It was a highlight of my career to be asked by Disney to work on a project with such talented and creative people. Having the chance to collaborate with this level of professionals is an incredible privilege.
To complete my work, and then return for the premiere of the movie and see the magic that the team achieved with Elsa’s character was breathtaking, humbling, and gratifying.
Have you given any celebrities a Frozen- inspired look since working on the film?
I most certainly have tried versions of this on clients, especially for red carpet appearances, or just a special night out.
What are some tips on how fans can get Elsa’s look for their own hair in real life?
There’s a multitude of ways to create Elsa’s hair for your own pleasure. If you are fortunate enough to have that amount of hair to create the style, great; otherwise an added ponytail could achieve a very similar effect. Also, it is always a good idea to bring a picture of Elsa with you to your hairdresser and ask them to reproduce it for you.
And if achieving a more exact version of Elsa’s hairstyle (the voluminous pompadour and side ponytail which can be braided and left down or pinned up into a chignon) is really important to someone, I would recommend purchasing a long platinum wig and having it cut and styled in just the right way. This would be a sure-fire way of duplicating that special look.
FROZEN Is Now Available ON BLU-RAY, BLU-RAY 3D AND DVD .