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Historically Accurate Elsa by Wickfield Historically Accurate Elsa by Wickfield
Being the history geek that I am, I guess it is kind of surprising that I haven't really done a "historically accurate" animation series before, but after seeing that awesome Buzzfeed Disney Princess video, and of course all the amazing art on here, I was inspired to make my own.  I guess it is better late than never!

As I've said before elsewhere, from an artistic standpoint, I'm not at all bothered by the animated designs of the characters in Disney and Dreamworks films. They weren't documentaries after all so in most cases they didn't need to be accurate, and in animation in particular, it is more important to convey character and style in the designs.  I am not trying to "fix" anything because I don't think there is anything to fix!  That being said, it can still be fun to learn how your favorite characters might have looked if they had existed in real life.  :) (Smile)  

For my series, I am trying to be as accurate as I possibly can.  I'm taking the country of origin, the social class, the culture, and the specific decade into mind (instead of just a general sweep of multiple decades), and also adapting the colors and styles to fit what was available and worn everyday.  I will try to keep the characters recognizable where I can, but I want to make my pictures realistic and so some elements of the original designs might be altered in the process.

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You knew it had to happen some time, and here it is - my Historically Accurate Frozen miniseries!   The next four installments of my historic series will be my take on the movie's four main characters, and goodness knows the kids from Frozen need some serious historical help!  

Here at last the one you've probably all been waiting for, Elsa!  For Elsa, I would have liked to draw her iconic ice gown, but it is kind of hard to fit such a "fantasy" dress into historic styling...there's not much of a precedence for ice gowns, lol!  So I decided to do her coronation dress instead, which is probably just as well - I'm not going to lie, I think that Elsa's coronation outfit is one of the most unattractive princess costumes Disney has ever designed!  But don't worry, I am here to help.

The makers of Frozen said they were inspired by 1840s fashion, although since
it is hinted that "Frozen Fever" takes place in 1840, that means Frozen actually takes place in 1839.  I think the few years around 1840 produced some of the prettiest Victorian dresses - they have the classic "ballgown" silhouette, but they aren't yet quite so fussy as later in the period, so I enjoyed looking up inspirations for Elsa's coronation gown.  The late 1830s saw the beginning of widespread corset use - up until this point women only wore corset-like "stays" for support and a flat silhouette, not for cinching - the small waist look was achieved by contrast with large skirts, instead.  The waists of 1830s-40s dresses were not hugely exaggerated yet, but they were small, and by the late part of the 1830s the horizontal waistband had switched over to a pointed bodice (fortunately like the one Elsa has in the film!).  The pleated neckline was extremely fashionable, you see it in all kinds of fashion plates - surprisingly, so was the teal color!  By 1839 ruffles and other decorations seemed to be replacing embroidery on the skirt, but you still see it in a few examples.  Although dresses with colored embroidery were not uncommon, I decided to go with a tonal look like this since the rest of the design was a little busy.  I also added a brooch like those typically worn in the period to mimic the clasp on Elsa's cape in the movie, as well as a necklace resembling the decoration on the neckline - you can see a similar one in this portrait of the actual Norwegian queen!  That may seem like overkill to modern sensibilities but women in this period loved their jewelry, especially women of nobility.  It is certainly a lot easier to design clothing for Disney characters from later periods because between fashion plates, portraits, and extant samples there are tons of references.  For instance, for Elsa's hairstyle, I was inspired by Queen Victoria's wedding hairstyle from almost exactly the same year as Frozen.  

While most Victorian fashion has a prudish reputation, that was certainly not the case for evening wear, which was allowed to be daring.  A girl like Elsa would never wear long sleeves for a formal occasion, even though she would always wear them during the day.   Luckily for me, though, gloves were definitely still in style for evening wear, and at this point in the movie Elsa is not Elsa without her gloves.  I based Elsa's off this pretty decorated pair from the 1830s.  Gloves were usually made of kid leather - the ones in my reference picture got fancy with silver embroidery, too. :)  I used a period appropriate embroidery design in place of the pattern in the movie.

Elsa's regalia in the movie was probably designed with dress-up costumes in mind, but European coronation regalia in the 19th century was very different.  I loosely based Elsa's crown and cape off the queen's regalia in Norway, although the basic design was similar throughout the Scandinavian countries and also Europe in general.  Since Arendelle is not actually Norway, though, I took some artistic liberties to better match the "kingdom" from he movie.  In place of the embroidered crowns on the Norwegian cape, I drew the Arendelle crocus insignia instead, and I incorporated the shape of Elsa's tiara into the crown.  Before I drew this picture I didn't know that a tiara doesn't really have any royal significance at all, it is just a piece of jewelry.  The reason princesses wear them is because they are wealthy enough to afford them!  Anyway, they certainly weren't used during a coronation.  

By the way, instead of the totally-Empress-Josephine-inspired clothing she wore in the film, this is how Elsa and Anna's mother would have dressed.  Just though you would like to know that. ;)

Last but not least is miss Anna of Arendelle in her Norwegian bunad!


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:iconkiratheusagii:
KiraTheUsagii Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2017  Hobbyist Interface Designer
So this outfit is more like Victorian era than the Scandinavian clothes at the time? :3
Because I don't think we had a Victorian era in clothes like the rest of the world. xD Not what I remember from the history lessons at least.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
In Scandinavia the upper classes generally looked toward France or England for their fashion inspiration, you can see this in portraits of the time.  In other European countries the lower classes also tried to imitate high fashion where they could, but the Scandinavian lower/working classes would have worn traditional folk clothing like the bunad.  
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:icondabair:
DaBair Featured By Owner Edited Apr 20, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
She looks like a young, platinum blonde Queen Victoria. (Believe it or not, Queen Victoria was thin in the early years of her long reign. It wasn't until she got much older that she started to become really fat.) 
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, Queen Victoria was one of the references!  
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:iconrachelillustrates:
rachelillustrates Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2017  Professional Traditional Artist
Oh goodness I love it. Especially that she still has a "taking no bullshit" expression :D
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Haha, that was actually supposed to be "reserved and slightly repressed," but knowing Elsa I guess she could be all that at once! :D
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:iconrachelillustrates:
rachelillustrates Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2017  Professional Traditional Artist
Hah yeah, I guess so, but sorry I misinterpreted it all the same.
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:iconarendellecitizen:
Arendellecitizen Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
beautiful elsa
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you!
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:iconarendellecitizen:
Arendellecitizen Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
you are welcome
did you do a historically accurate thing for her ice dress?
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No, I didn't attempt any of the "fantasy" type costumes in this series, but you should totally check out suburbanbeatnik's rendition, it is pretty tough to beat! suburbanbeatnik.deviantart.com…
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:iconarendellecitizen:
Arendellecitizen Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
i see
do you take requests?
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No, I am currently offering commisions, check my journal!
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:iconarendellecitizen:
Arendellecitizen Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
are they point comissons?
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No, I only take payment through Paypal.
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(1 Reply)
:icononikaalee:
OnikaALee Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2016  Student Traditional Artist
I perfer this elsa much much more than the original
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Psst...I do too! :D
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:iconiaiusjello:
iaiusjello Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2016
AH, you did it! You drew Elsa! I've been waiting for this one since your Hans coloring piece! And wow, you've got an entire historically researched collection. What a treat to discover. I've gone on a favoriting spree, b I have to say that my overall favorites are Elsa, Jafar, and Megara!

I'm happy that you go through your analytic process and show which examples you used and rejected. It makes for very good reading.

Anyway, Elsa's my favorite of all. I am so glad that you managed to work the crocus into the crown and mantle. I'm actually reminded of the Napoleonic bees on Napoleon and Josephine's mantles, which is cool because the Empire style would've still been floating around in Scandinavia just a few years earlier... And I'm particularly glad you kept the crocus on the crown as well (and replaced the crown at the top with one too, just like the globus crucig--er, globus crociger? lol!) . That was always my favorite part of the tiara in Frozen, though you're right that there's nothing particularly royal about a tiara. Way to go using the right shade of purple, too -- it's a match for Tyrian, good proper imperial purple.

Lastly -- heh, yes, the parents were wearing very Napoleonic clothing in the film, weren't they? Not that I minded, I love the Empire style.

Sorry for rambling. But this is just delightful!
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aw, I'm sorry you hadn't seen it till now, but I'm glad you liked the result!  I'm also glad when people don't mind the novels I write out in the description, haha.

Yes, the Scandinavian countries (I think specifically Norway) had mantles with crowns and things embroidered on them, so the crocus seemed like the natural choice!  And good eye, I did base the crown on the symbols in the Arendelle orb and sceptre, I thought that would be the best way to get it more regal.

I agree, I like the Napoleonic clothing too, it is just a big jump between that and Romantic Victorian styles in the movie!  :XD: 



 
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:iconsoubrettina:
soubrettina Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016
Hey I just want to say I love your series and the depth of your knowledge and research that you put in; your notes alone are well worth the visit!
Nice work pointing out how much flesh evening gowns at this period show, something people forget. I guess there was a dramatic reason for Elsa's 'covered up' dress rather than a historical-costuming one, seeing as Anna and most of the background ladies have a far more period-appropriate general outline and neckline. I think Britney Lee's notes were that she should look like a 'pillar of strength' while being 'closed off' to other people. (What I suppose is an affront to cultural norms is that the sisters wear the same gowns all day. Oh, and that the movie treats gloves as saying something significant about the wearer when they would actually be socially obligatory...)
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh yeah, I get the importance of her reserved gown from a thematic standpoint... I just think the final design was unattractive! They still could have made a prettier long sleeved gown. (Honestly I don't much like Anna's either.) Oh well, that is what fanart is for! :)
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:icongrapeshotmemory:
grapeshotmemory Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2015
Very dignified.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thankyou!
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:icongrapeshotmemory:
grapeshotmemory Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2015
You're welcome!
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:iconserendippitydoodah:
SerenDippityDooDah Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Perfection!! 
Could we please get one for Anna as well?
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:iconaniek90:
aniek90 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015
Aw, this is so amazing! I love the crown, the hair, the gloves... hell, I love everything :heart::heart:
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lol, awesome!
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:iconcode-e:
Code-E Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015  Student General Artist
Wow, that cape! No getting cold in that. Which is a positive for Elsa, I suppose.
I really like this one. You always do a great job of making the characters more realistic and accurate while still being recognizable. I don't know what it is about this one, but it just strikes me more than most others. Like, this looks like it could be a real outfit a real royal in the Victorian era would wear, but its still perfectly reads as Elsa.
I'm also glad you went with her coronation dress over the ice dress. Both are great, but I honestly prefer her first dress.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What a nice thing to say!  I was worried I wasn't putting enough of her character in but I guess I didn't need to be. :)
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:iconborabee:
Borabee Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015  Student General Artist
I'm not gonna lie... I'm a big fan of Elsa's original coronation dress XD But I think she looks stunning with a real crown and also these beautiful jewelry and patterned dress. The necklace, especially, I think I want it for me haha. Not to offend Elsa or anything, but while in the movie it bothered me that she was so awkward before "letting it go", I feel like here you added the right amount of beautiful powerful queen and insecure-young-orphan-with-strange-powers haha. Also, I like the colors you used better. I guess the more reddish cape and the whites add to her royalty while the purple one didn't do much. And the hairdo fits perfectly with it all <3
Also, I had no idea as well about the Tiara... I'm shocked! :o
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Edited Sep 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aw, thank you for such a nice comment!  Like I said in the description, late 1830s-40s fashion was really elegant, at least in my opinion.  

Personally I think it would have been a good idea for Disney to stick to some of the period fashions in their designs, because I think the whole idea of the suppressed Victorian lady in a corset and petticoats "letting it go" and creating a scandalous ice dress would have had more impact!  :giggle:

As far as her expression, I'm glad it looks okay - I had trouble making her actually look like *Elsa* after changing so much of her original costume, so I ended up  using some of the 2D concept sketches as references.
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:iconborabee:
Borabee Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015  Student General Artist
Hey, np! :~ I agree, that would have been very nice to watch :o Maybe they could even have given more emphasis to her dressing for that ceremony if there was time. Complaints about corsets, like in Pirates of the Caribbean, would work well as a metaphor for the feelings of imprisonment Elsa and Anna had haha
And yep, it looks awesome! It's really hard to keep a character recognizable once you change their outfit and draw them in a different style and I think the features you drew resemble her nicely, but more important than that is how you succeed amazingly at replicating Elsa's expression and her body language, in essence her true self, so that features end up not being such a big deal either way o/
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:iconnathanielharris:
NathanielHarris Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You've done it again! I love how you're able to take a character and translate every aspect of that character into perfectly historically accurate terms.   
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well I always work really hard to keep elements of the original design in historic terms, so I guess it shows!
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:iconanastasiy:
Anastasiy Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Wow, great colors!
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you!
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:iconsalierifemme91:
salierifemme91 Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
OMG! That's SO good! Just beautiful, I love it!
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you!
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:iconmoonymina:
MoonyMina Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
truly lovely :) I really like the details of the gloves and skirt :)
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm glad to hear that...her skirt didn't turn out quite like I'd wanted it to.  Sweating a little... 
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:iconmoonymina:
MoonyMina Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
ahhh, it happens! but it is truly great!
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:iconfidofromnorway:
FidoFromNorway Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015
She is gorgeous. (Again I'm from Norway) it's like a old pic of a Norwegian queen
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome, I'm glad you like it!
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:iconmacaroniandsqueeze:
MacaroniandSqueeze Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
What a beautiful design! Now that's a crown and cape fit for a queen!
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you!  I was glad I could find pictures of the actual Norwegian items for inspiration. :)
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:iconjosgui:
JOSGUI Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015
Great, I'm sure Tangled and Frozen movie take place in this century, but I want tell "Where are you guns", all soldier used crossbows in this movies.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Actually Tangled took place in the 1780s, at least that's what the filmmakers said when the movie originally came out before they retconned it to fit in Frozen's universe. :shrug: Maybe Disney thinks crossbows are less violent?
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:iconniobesnuppa:
Niobesnuppa Featured By Owner Edited Sep 9, 2015   Digital Artist
Crossbows seem a little less violent, but I think it could possibly also be excused a bit by the setting. The Nordic countries, especially Norway, Iceland and Finland, have always been pretty slow when it comes to technology, we've been mostly farmer nations, so I guess it could be sort of explained that there just wouldn't be that many guns available here due to low demand? It's a bit of a flimsy explanation, but it's the only one I can think of.
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:iconwickfield:
Wickfield Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Honestly I think the most likely reason is to help with the fairytale vibe. Guns seem really modern, in a world with princes and princesses "medieval" weapons probably feel like a better fit. I noticed in Batb Gaston uses a bow and arrow to hunt Beast even though his gun would have been more appropriate for the 18th century. No one was hunting with bows and arrows by then!
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:iconniobesnuppa:
Niobesnuppa Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015   Digital Artist
Yeah, it seems a bit bizarre, especially since Gaston actually uses a shotgun when hunting early on in the movie. Oh well.
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