Interview: Costume Designer Salvador Perez Talks Wicca, Swiffers, and Easter Eggs in ‘Hocus Pocus 2′
Hocus Pocus 2 premiered on Disney+ on September 30, 2022, and saw the Sanderson sisters make their way back onscreen in incredible style, as they danced to the tune of “The Witches Are Back.” Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy couldn’t have made a better entrance as they reprised their roles as the Sanderson sisters 29 years after the original Hocus Pocus film premiered. The trio transitioned seamlessly into Hocus Pocus 2 as if no time had passed at all. Meanwhile, it was largely thanks to the work of Hocus Pocus 2 Costume Designer Salvador Perez, that the Sanderson sisters could make such a fashionable and smooth transition.
While the Sanderson sisters’ original costumes were iconic, after 29 years they needed an upgrade and Perez accepted the challenge. The versatile and talented costume designer’s impressive resume extends back to the 1990s when he worked as a Costume Manufacturing Foreman or Assistant Costume Designer on films such as Titanic, Barb Wire, and The Flintstones. In recent years, Perez has worked as a Costume Designer on projects including The Mindy Project, Castle, Never Have I Ever, and Senior Year.
However, he truly outdid himself for Hocus Pocus 2. He managed to find a perfect balance between honoring the Witches’ original costumes, while also upgrading them with true Wiccan symbols, beautifully hand-crocheted embroidery, and silk that flowed as the witches danced and sang. Not only that, but he designed his own iconic Disney villain for Hannah Waddingham’s Mother Witch and recreated Billy Butcherson’s (Doug Jones) iconic costume. I was honored to have the opportunity to talk with Perez more about how he balanced nostalgia and modernization in the Sanderson sisters’ costumes and how he snuck in some clever and subtle references to the original film in his designs.
Rachel Ulatowski (TMS): What was your approach to evolving the Sanderson sisters’ costumes for Hocus Pocus 2 and how did you find a balance between referencing the original iconic get-ups while also modernizing them?
Perez: We wanted to honor the iconic costumes by Costume Designer Mary Vogt but give them an updated look. We couldn’t change their colors or their silhouettes, but we wanted to give the costumes more meaning. The original symbols on Winnifred’s coat were made-up symbols, but I wanted the new costumes to have a back story, so the symbols are related to Wiccan culture – the 3 moons, the 3 goddesses, and a coven. I also used the symbols on the Mother Witch’s costume, as if she inspired Winnifred’s look. I used the broach on the Mother Witch as the buckle on Winnie’s coat. Sarah’s costume got a much more lavish embroidery design, with thorny branches and spiders, and her sleeves were hand-crocheted spiderwebs made of cashmere yarn. The rings on Mary’s bodice now have the words, Water, Air, Earth, and Fire in the alphabet of the Magi. I used beautiful silks in the costumes, so they moved when they danced and flew, I used the same lightweight silk habotai for their capes so they floated in the wind. Then everything got a layer of crystals, so they had sparkle.
TMS: For the Sanderson sisters you had their original costumes as a reference. However, with Mother Witch (Hannah Waddingham) there wasn’t any reference to take from the original film. How did you approach her costume?
Perez: I loved being able to design an iconic Disney Villain. We wanted the Mother Witch to stand out from our trio, so we went with a bold red dress. She is first seen as a bird, the red-winged raven. This bird is indigenous to Salem. The bird has red and orange feathers on their wings, so we incorporated that into the design of her cape. Ironically, the colors mimic Dani’s costume from the original film, so we just played with that knowing that the fans would pick up on that detail. The symbols on her dress are also on Winnifred’s costume.
TMS: Hocus Pocus 2 is riddled with clever references to the original film. What were some of your favorite Easter eggs in the film?
Perez: I loved the original film and there are so many great details in the film, I found that great tie dye t-shirt for Cassie, and it reminded me of Max’s t-shirt, then I paired it with a beige cardigan as a nod to Allison’s cardigan. Lucas, the announcer at the costume contest, was inspired by the skeleton announcer and we made several costumes for the crowd that were used in the original film– the Madonna cone bra costume, the Supremes, and of course the devil and his little woman.
TMS: Do you have any tips or tricks for fans creating DIY Sanderson sisters’ costumes for Halloween this year?
Perez: Have fun with your costume and put your own spin on it! Think about what you have at home that can be adapted. For one of the Mary costume cosplayers, as opposed to a plaid skirt, I used a plaid shirt tied around the waist. Make sure you take your Swiffer Wet Jet when you go fly!
TMS: Swiffer got a funny cameo in Hocus Pocus 2 as Sarah Sanderson (Sarah Jessica Parker) uses one in place of her broom. Can you tell us a little bit more about Swiffer’s unique role in the film and how it happened?
Perez: We wanted the 17th Century Witches to be intrigued with modern elements. Even their flying broomsticks are modern upgrades, as Sarah Sanderson flies on a Swiffer Wet Jet, which many people have in their homes as it has replaced the broom or mop. The cosplayers are going to love this accessory as it’s fun to fly on and you can use it to clean up later!
TMS: Do you have a personal favorite costume, or accessory, in Hocus Pocus 2?
Perez: I really love the update on Winnifred’s costumes, the lavish fabrics and embroidery with metallic thread and crystals and the embroidery on Sarah’s corset with thorny braces and spiders, and spiderweb sleeves– these details really bring the costumes to life.
(featured image: Disney, Salvador Perez)
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