A ‘runway’ worthy princess dress

It’s only fitting that Disney’s first Latina princess gets a dress straight from the runway — Project Runway, that is.

According to WWDProject Runway All Stars alum Layana Aguilar designed the dress for Disney’s latest princess, “Elena of Avalor.” Elena, voiced by Young & Hungry star Aimee Carrero, will make her debut in the cartoon series on the Disney Channel in July, in which “the brave and adventurous teenager … saves her kingdom from an evil sorceress and must learn to rule until she is old enough to be queen.”

Although Aguilar may not have been summoned by royal command to craft the Latina princess’ dress, her talents were tapped for the project after being connected to Disney via Runway host Tim Gunn, according to WWD.

Gunn, who voices a character on Disney Junior show Sofia the First, was “the resource Disney turned to when it needed a designer to create a ballgown for Elena of Avalor,” reports WWD. After a meeting with Joe D’Ambrosia, Disney Junior’s senior vice president of original programming, “Aguilar was encouraged to create whatever she imagined.”

Aguilar drew inspiration for Elena’s gown from her own South American heritage, according to WWD, crafting the first-ever Disney princess gown with a print. WWD says Aguilar “tapped into a childhood memory of her grandmother embroidering colorful mandala flowers.”

“The feeling to it is very Peruvian, Inca-like,” she said of the dress. “When they first showed me Princess Elena and I read a little bit about that story, it took me back to that memory.”

Discussing the experience of designing the dress for the animated princess, Aguilar said, “This experience opened my mind to other experiences you can have as a fashion designer. We’re often so caught up in designing lines and doing trade shows. At the end of the day, you get so much more money and exposure from collaborations with major brands,” according to WWD.

But, for Aguilar, designing the gown was “a dream come true. I really wanted it to be something that has to do with my upbringing.”


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