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Christine Daaé's Costumes From "Phantom": Musical vs. Movie

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Compare Christine's costumes in the musical and the 2004 movie, and decide which outfits are better.

Compare Christine's costumes in the musical and the 2004 movie, and decide which outfits are better.

Stage vs. Movie Costumes for Christine in The Phantom of the Opera

Christine Daaé, the leading lady of The Phantom of the Opera, has a plethora of lovely costumes on the stage and on the screen. Her costumes were designed by Maria Bjornson for the stage and Alexandra Byrne for the movie.

Which Outfits Are Better?

The stage version and the movie version have some costumes that are very similar to each other, while others are quite different. But which production has the better costumes for Miss Daaé overall?

It's a subjective question, but let's compare the costumes side by side to come up with a conclusion. It will probably be biased because opinions are not facts, but please enjoy the costume discourse.

Christine's Main Costumes

  1. Slave Girl, Hannibal
  2. Elissa, "Think of Me"
  3. White Dressing Gown
  4. Page, Il Muto
  5. "All I Ask of You"
  6. "Masquerade"
  7. "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"
  8. Aminta, "The Point of No Return"
  9. Wedding Gown
Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

1. Slave Girl, Hannibal

When we first meet Christine, she is wearing a slave girl costume during the dress rehearsal for the newest opera, Hannibal. Both versions of this costume are revealing, but in different ways.

Stage Version

In the stage show, the costume has a plunging neckline and a rope skirt. Velvet panels make up the bodice, and gold cording covers the seams. There are a lot of beaded elements around the neckline and the shoulders. Christine also wears a crown.

Movie Version

In the movie, the costume has an exposed midriff. It has a floral print on the bodice. The neckline and waistband appear be made out of leather, with some metal details. The skirt is made from a lightweight fabric. The partial nudity of the costume represents her vulnerability; she is being exposed and singled out to save the show that night.

My Pick: Stage

I think the movie version suits the slave girl character better, but I think the stage version is the better costume for an opera. The movie version is too sedate for an opera costume and lacks the motion that a dancer's costume needs to show off their grace of movement.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

2. Elissa, "Think of Me"

During the Hannibal rehearsals, Carlotta, the opera's diva, quits. Christine takes her place.

Stage Version

Midway through the song in the stage show, Christine's slave costume transforms into the leading lady's costume. The show does this by removing the rope skirt and switching it for a larger, grander skirt that has heavily patterned fabric, heavy embroidery, and gold tassels.

Movie Version

The movie doesn't have the limitations of real time and a live audience, so its version is completely different. In the movie, the costume goes from a Minoan slave girl to Empress Elizabeth of Austria. In fact, according to the FIDM exhibit brochure, "The influence for Christine's white gown came from the famous Winterhalter painting of Empress Elizabeth of Austria wearing a Worth & Bobergh ballgown covered with stars."

My Pick: Stage

As lovely as the film costume is—and it really is very beautiful—it's out of place in terms of the context. It makes you wonder what the movie version of Hannibal is about and what is going on with this character in the opera.

Had there been some context for the costume design in the film, it could have worked; it's a beautiful costume. However, without that context, the movie makes us question things about the show-within-a-show, and stuff like that takes you out of the experience. While both dresses are lovely, I think the stage show is better in terms of context.

Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

3. White Dressing Gown

After Christine's triumphant debut, she wears a white dressing gown with ruffles. This dressing gown is worn during the show's most memorable moments: "The Mirror," "The Phantom of the Opera," "Music of the Night," and the first unmasking.

Stage Version

In the stage show, Christine wears a long white robe with long sleeves. It has lots of ruffles at the neckline, cuffs, hem, and along the opening. The Hannibal corset is worn under the dressing gown, adding a pop of color.

Movie Version

In the movie, Christine's "dressing gown" is more like lingerie. It consists of a sheer dress with a high slit, a white corset, and a white robe with ruffles and pink sequins.

It has been suggested that the corset she wears with the dressing gown is the same corset she wore with her "Think of Me" dress. However, the lace on the corset's neckline would be visible if it was worn with the "Think of Me" dress—so it's a different corset.

My Pick: Stage

While I do like the movie costume, it doesn't work within the scope of the story. In the stage version, after Christine's debut, Raoul comes to see her and invites her to dinner. Immediately after Raoul leaves the room, the Phantom makes his presence known and lures Christine through the mirror.

In the movie, between Raoul's invitation and the Phantom's appearance, Christine changes into this costume. I will also point out that, as Christine changes clothes, the opera house goes from full to empty.

It would have made more sense to either have her go down to the Phantom's lair in her "Think of Me" dress or have her change into a dress for dinner. Or, she could have been wearing this costume prior to Raoul's entrance. The Phantom's arrival loses impact if it took him 20 minutes to react to Raoul's dinner invitation!

I think the filmmakers wanted the scene to be dark, with a sense of foreboding preluding the Phantom's entrance, but it comes at the cost of pacing. Aesthetically and context-wise, I think the stage costume is better.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

4. Page, Il Muto

In the opera Il Muto, Christine plays a mute page who cross-dresses to fool the Count.

Both Versions

In both versions, it's a simple costume that consists of a shirt and breeches. The movie version has some extra frills, buttons, and pastel stripes, as you can see above.

My Pick: Movie

There is not much to this costume, but I think I like the movie version better; it's a little bit more fun and colorful. It also seems like it fits the aesthetic of Il Muto.

Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

5. "All I Ask of You"

During Il Muto, the Phantom demands that Christine play the lead role of the Countess. Before she can take the stage, panic ensues as the Phantom murders Buquet, a stagehand. Christine and Raoul rush to the roof for safety. She tries to tell Raoul about the Phantom and her growing fear, and he tries to comfort her with his love. They then profess their love to each other.

Stage Version

In the stage show, Christine changes into an 18th-century gown and wears a blue cloak with ruffles.

Movie Version

In the movie, she doesn't finish changing, so she goes out in a corset with pink details, a pink skirt, and a red velvet cloak. This costume is sexier than its stage counterpart.

My Pick: Movie

These costumes are on the opposite sides of the spectrum; the stage version is more opulent, and the movie version is simple yet sexy. Honestly, I think both are great, but I lean more toward the movie version.

The simplicity of the film costume helps convey the intimacy of the scene, as well as Christine's emotional fragility. It also has a Little Red Riding Hood connotation, given that she's being stalked by something dangerous.

Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

6. "Masquerade"

"Masquerade" occurs during a costume party at the beginning of Act 2.

Stage Version

In the stage show, Christine goes in costume as a "Star Princess." Her dress softly fades from pink to blue and has lots of star details, off-shoulder ruffle sleeves, a shorter hem, and a crown.

Movie Version

In the movie, Christine dresses up like . . . herself, maybe? She dresses in a pink gown with a bustle, and the dress has ruffles and flower details.

I'm not sure why she's exempt from wearing a costume at a costume party. And why is she exempt from the color scheme of the party, which is white, black, and gold? There are theories that the color reflects Christine becoming tainted by the Phantom; however, overall, this dress doesn't work within the context of the story (again).

My Pick: Stage

The movie costume is a pretty dress, but it's not a costume for a masquerade. Though, who knows—given all the flowers on her dress, maybe an hour before she left for the party, she just put on a ton of flowers and claimed she was a flower. It would almost make sense, given the odd costume choices in the film.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

7. "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"

This sequence itself differs noticeably between the stage show and the film, and the costumes are very different as well.

Stage Version

In the stage show, Christine wears a more "casual" dress for a few sequences ("Notes/Twisted Every Way," "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," and "Wandering Child").

It's a blue dress with a floral print, ruffles at the cuffs, a bustle, and an apron detail. She wears the dress under a blue cape with a red scarf for "Wishing" and "Wandering Child." This costume is the only costume Christine wears that could be described as everyday attire.

Movie Version

In the movie, "Notes" gets split so that it occurs right after "Masquerade" and follows "Wandering Child." Christine wears a white blouse with a black bustle skirt for "Twisted Every Way," which is hard to get a decent picture of from the movie since it's barely visible.

During "Wishing" and "Wandering Child," Christine wears a black dress with a plunging neckline with lace details. She wears a black cape with a maroon chiffon scarf worn over her head and around her neck.

My Pick: Stage

I suppose the idea behind the movie costume is that it's a mourning dress. However, Christine just pulls this dress off a rack in the opera house, so it's unclear if it's a costume owned by the opera or her own garment. Either way, the dress lacks the fine details of its stage counterpart and looks like a stab of black on screen. Based on the context of the story, I'd say the stage version is the better costume.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

8. Aminta, "The Point of No Return"

Aminta is the character that Christine plays in the Phantom's opera, Don Juan Triumphant. She wears this costume during "The Point of No Return" and briefly during "The Final Lair."

Stage Version

In the stage show, Christine wear a dress that is flamenco-inspired with a 17th-century flair. It has a ton of details, like layers of ruffles, lace, beads, embroidery, a shawl, etc. It's a very extravagant costume.

Movie Version

Conversely, the movie version is simpler and more seductive. Christine is dressed like a stereotypical Romani. She wears a lace chemise, flower details, a dark red floral corset with bead trim along the hem, and a skirt with ruffle details. A red rose in her hair and a gold bracelet complete the look.

My Pick: Tie

I like both looks, and, despite being so different, they do have a similar vibe. I think they both work within the context of the story. I have a soft spot for the stage version, but the movie costume grows on me more every time I see it.

This is a hard one, as the costumes are just so different and perform different functions for the mediums. It's a tie!

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

Left: Stage Version. Right: Movie Version.

9. Wedding Gown

The wedding dress is a gown that the Phantom made for Christine. Both dresses features diagonal elements. In the stage show, there are diagonal ruffles on the skirt, and there's an overlay draped at an angle in the movie. However, beyond that, the dresses are different.

Stage Version

The stage costume has lots of lace and ruffle details, a wide waistband, a sweetheart neckline, 3/4 sleeves, buttons, and a bustle. It's a very opulent dress, and it's a great dress to end the show with.

Movie Version

The movie dress has the same spirit as the one from the stage show. It features an off-shoulder neckline with short sleeves. The bodice is identical to the "Think of Me" dress. It has an asymmetrical overlay on the front that drapes around the side and covers the skirt, which is ruffled (much like the stage show).

My Pick: Movie

The movie dress is not as opulent as the stage version, but it's still lovely, even if it doesn't have the same wow factor. Despite that, I prefer it over the stage version; I like its subtlety.

Bustle Comparison. Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

Bustle Comparison. Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

My Verdict: The Stage Costumes Are Better

While I do find the movie's costumes to be lovely overall, many of them don't work within the context of the story. Compared to the stage costumes, they lack grandeur. It's not that a costume needs to be grand to be beautiful, but opulence helps with immersion when the majority of the costumes are themselves costumes for the fictitious operas within the musical.

I think that the stage show has the superior costumes. But what do you think?

Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

Left: Movie Version. Right: Stage Version.

Easy Trivia Quiz About Christine

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who designed the costumes from the 2004 movie version?
    • Colleen Atwood
    • Jenny Beaven
    • Sandy Powell
    • Alexandra Byrne
    • Ngila Dickson
  2. Who originally played Christine Daaé in the musical?
    • Sarah Brightman
    • Rebecca Caine
    • Sierra Boggess
    • Marni Raab
    • Anna O'Byrne
  3. What is Christine's first song?
    • "Phantom of the Opera"
    • "Think of Me"
    • "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"
    • "Music of the Night"
    • "Little Lotte"
  4. Where was Christine born?
    • England
    • France
    • Germany
    • Spain
    • Sweden
  5. In the stage show, which of Christine's costumes is casual everyday attire?
    • "Think of Me"
    • "Il Muto"
    • "Notes/Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"
    • "The Point of No Return"
    • "Final Liar"

Answer Key

  1. Alexandra Byrne
  2. Sarah Brightman
  3. "Think of Me"
  4. Sweden
  5. "Notes/Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: You know a few things about Christine, but there's a lot more to learn!

If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: You got several right, but maybe it's time to watch "Phantom" again!

If you got 4 correct answers: You have a strong grasp on trivia about Christine and "Phantom."

If you got 5 correct answers: You are a bonafide Christine Daae superfan.

Which of Christine's costumes is your favorite?

Em on April 21, 2020:

I personally think the stage show was amazing, especially the one with Seirra Boggesss. It was beautifully executed and even though I sometimes couldn’t hear the lyric (I watched the 25th anniversary stream) I knew exactly what was happening. The ending had me in tears. Seriously a jaw dropping show. The costumes made sense as well. An opera is usually more dramatic than a basic stage show, so all the costumes made perfect sense.

And a lot of people are confused about the dress, “The star princess.” I agree, it looks like it belongs in the 80s, which is perfect. The movie looked more like a fancy ball rather than a MASQUERADE PARTY. The Start Princess’s has a far future theme which is perfectly placed. The colors were vibrant because Christine has to stand out, she’s the main character.

And I think that the stage Il Muto Page Boy costume is also superior. (I know, unpopular opinion) I feel this way because the scene is like a dark time in Daae’s life. She needed the lead or she could be at risk to The Phantom’s outbursts. Cross dressing probably wasn’t the most popular thing during the movie’s time period, which means Daae chose to wear darker clothes in order to “hide herself”. I understand her main character is a female, but it was considered a joke to society to essentially be transgender. Which may be why she wears dark clothes as well, to play her inner masculinity.

Another unpopular opinion: The movie wedding dress was just a mess. I know, the gowns are meant to be beautiful, and the movie dress was great, but less cleavage. (I’m not saying this to be child friendly, I’m saying it because it isn’t the best, less cleavage and a more fitting neckline but she can have some cleavage, i have no idea what I’m saying, you get my point.) The hair would have been better if it wasn’t so poufy. It would look more fitting if it was more longways instead of sideways. And the stage show, wow, it was breathtaking as well. As we are speaking on terms of improvement, maybe adding a necklace or a choker would add to her otherwise bare neck. And maybe a hairpin (like a flower that subtly hints to the movie masquerade dress) but yeah, that’s all I got

I’m not trying to hate if people come at me. I’m just stating my opinion. I personally think that in it’s whole, the stage show is better. I’m sorry if I bother you by saying that. Anyways I’ve talked for forever.

Enjoy the rest of the comments! :)

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on July 03, 2018:

RiverCygnet, I loved your comparison of the stage and film versions of "Phantom of the Opera. It's one of the funnest hubs I've seen. You had me involved from the start. I was swayed by most of your persuasion. Often I made my mind up by studying the photographs before reading what you had to say about them. I have only one suggestion. Regarding the white dressing gown, that is the only category I didn't vote. I think a better choice is to post a full view of the gown for the movie version. We only see half the dress. But I loved your article!

Hildy Gloom on March 26, 2015:

while the stage costumes are lovely the stage show itself is just one big mess

while the movie is perfect and that's a fact!

Hildy Gloom on March 26, 2015:

the movie is better in every way i have many problems with the stage show!

michael on November 24, 2014:

the wishing dress is so pretty and the stage production just plain rules.

anonymous on April 30, 2013:

The stage production. It is more historically accurate in terms of what would have been used and worn in the last nineteenth century, so the outfits were not created or sex appeal as was the movie version (because goodness forbid accuracy is actually present in a Hollywood production). As for he dressing gown, or robe, Christine just arrived back to her dressing room and barely had time to change into an entirely new garment as would be suggested by the movie; she tells Meg about her lovely Angel of Music and almost immediately Raoul comes in, invites her to dinner, and leaves. The Phantom knowing and seeing this steps into action to bring Christine to his lair before she has the chance to reunite with Raoul a bit later. Even with help, it would not make sense in terms of the time frame given within the script especially if Christine, having the Angel of Music be in that room previous nights, knew he would appear and wanted everyone out within such a short time frame to be alone even if people questioned her.

The stage productions' "Masquerade" is an actual Masquerade as opposed to the movie which is more of a grand ball than anything; the movie scene destroyed the essence any Masquerade should have; think about Halloween and the atmosphere that creates when people dress up and head out for trick-or-treating and other events.

anonymous on April 11, 2013:

I love the movie costumes the best cuz they scream "creative" and they also catch the idea of the true story. the don juan triumphant dress from the 2004 movie is my all time favorite dress!

anonymous on January 31, 2013:

I think the movie definitely had better costumes, if nothing else because they weren't stuck in the 1980s. I never got "star princess" from the stage Masquerade outfit, but got "flower" immediately from the movie. Plus, Carlotta explicitly says about the Elissa dress "Because I have not my costume for Act 3 because somebody not finish it!" which is why the costume doesn't fit the theme: it was something they had backstage and just threw on Christine. Christine was changing out of her costume into a new outfit to go out with Raoul during Angel of Music: she wouldn't want to wear the same corset, it would be sweaty and gross from the stage lights.

anonymous on October 06, 2012:

My favorite costume is from the 2004 movie version. I also prefer the movie over the play because i feel like i could sink right into it and feel as the characters do but in the play all i could think about is the excitement of it all instead of the true meaning of the phantom of the opera. my favorite costume in when christine is on the roof singing about her love. it's a simple dress yet still as elegant and beautiful with the red cape

anonymous on July 22, 2012:

Both versions has gorgeous, elegant costumes, but my favorites include 2004 Christines dress for the first lair visit, her costume for All I ask of you and gypsy dress in Point of no return. However, my all-time favorite is Carlottas fabulous Spanish dress for the stage version!

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