They'll be there with Belles on 'Beauty's' princess is a costume favorite this year

October 30, 1992|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,Staff Writer

Tomorrow night Meagan Michael will pin up her hair, slip into her ball gown with the handmade rosettes and cast a spell over the residents of the Uppercrest development in Harford County. With Halloween less than 24 hours away, Meagan is itching to become the best Belle of Bel Air.

The Belle fantasy figure from the movie "Beauty and The Beast" has inspired some of the season's best-selling costumes for young girls, say local costume sellers. Disney reports that the Belle outfit, which retails at its stores for $58, is its top-selling costume. (Tinkerbell, last year's front-runner, has dropped to third place.)

"Belle will become a classic Princess-style costume," predicts Harriet Berlin, owner of Artistic Costumes in Loch Raven Plaza.

And this week's release of the "Beauty and the Beast" video -- more than 20 million copies are expected to be sold by next spring when Disney stops supplying copies -- seems to guarantee that Belle costumes will sell well over the next few years.

The Michaels are a Disney family, says Darlene Michael, Meagan's mother and official costume maker. Seven-year-old Meagan has already been to Disney World twice and Disneyland once and has marked past Halloweens as Snow White, a Dalmatian and the Little Mermaid. Four-year-old Andrew Michael will follow the Disney canon in a store-bought Beast costume.

Meagan's gown is pale yellow satin with a lacey overlay skirt gathered up in what romance readers know as furbelows. It is decorated with red rosettes studded with the gems from one of her old bracelets. To complete the outfit, Meagan will wear her white tights, her white Easter shoes and the white "old-timey lady's gloves" her grandmother wore to her mother's wedding.

Mrs. Michael, who works part time as a sales representative for Becton-Dickinson pharmaceutical company, has devoted serious time to this vision.

First came the search for the best image of Belle. Then the quest for the right Simplicity pattern (Jo-Ann Fabrics in Elkton) and the right materials (a shop in Williamsburg). Then two hours to cut out the pattern and another six hours to sew it.

"I only sew at Halloween," she insists.

And she does set certain limits. The gown's rosettes and NTC hand-sewn touches come courtesy of "Nonie" Phillips, Meagan's year-old great-grandmother who lives in a condo in Abingdon.

Meagan says the best thing about her dress are Nonie's #F rosettes. She says the best part of "Beauty and the Beast" is when the Beast dances round and round with Belle. And she says she feels special whenever she puts her costume on.

In fact, a major challenge for this Belle's mother has been preserving the gown until the big night. One evening Meagan insisted upon doing her homework in it. Today she will test it out on her classmates as part of Costume Day at Homestead-Wakefield Elementary School.

And does Meagan resemble Belle, the updated fairy tale character with a mind of her own?

"Well, she's always reading," her mother reflects. "Unless it's a book she has to read for school."

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