From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Nathalie Franco
If 12 years later you still swoon anytime you hear the Disney hit song “I See The Light,” or if you’re an avid doll/Disney collector, then I’ve got a treat for you. Launching today is the next in our Disney Designer Collection Limited Edition line – Rapunzel! This beautiful doll features a gala-esque look to the Rapunzel we know and love, with her classic long blonde hair. Designed by Tetsunoksuke Saiki from Yokohama, Japan, the doll celebrates the power and beauty of diverse women’s lifestyle fashion.
When Tetsu first saw the film “Tangled,” he felt connected to Rapunzel, as someone who also was an only child and spent much of their time drawing, reading, painting, and daydreaming. While his mother was no Mother Gothel, Tetsu was often alone and found himself always thinking “there must be something more.”
After graduating from university and moving to London to study fashion, he found that something more he had been seeking for a long time – The Walt Disney Company!
We recently sat down with Tetsu to chat about designing the doll, his history with Disney, and more:
What is your role at Disney?
My current role is Product Design Manager in the Fashion department.
How long have you been working on the Rapunzel doll?
The project started in late Dec. 2020. There were several prototype checks with the product team and finally she gets to make her debut today, July 12, 2022.
What is the creative process behind designing the doll?
Throughout the course of this project, I considered various directions of expression. As women’s lifestyles and beauty are becoming more and more diverse, I wondered how I could make Rapunzel look even more beautiful than she already was by focusing on her dress, but making sure she did not lose her character along the way.
To me, Rapunzel is a character that symbolizes spring. I think the way she enjoys life after being released from a long period of captivity feels like the transition from winter to spring. So overall, the image has a springtime feel to it. I chose a floral pattern that looks like small flowers in the forest. This was inspired by the scene in the village where Rapunzel is having children stick flowers in her hair. I also incorporated Maximus in the white purse and Pascal through the green shoes. (It’s always better to have a good buddy with you when you go to a party, right?)
I designed it from the perspective that Rapunzel would actually choose the dress herself for an event. Her outfits in the story are very simple compared to other princesses. Considering her taste, I thought a simple but glamorous direction would be the best match for her, so I kept the details simple and used luxurious materials to give the dress a gala feel.
It doesn’t appear in the story, but perhaps I subconsciously connect the sudden blooming of a beautiful large flower, such as a peony, from a tightly packed bud to Rapunzel’s story. So, I used it for the fascinator.
When a spin-off story is created someday, if there is a scene where Rapunzel needs to attend a gala, I would love for her to wear this dress.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I am very attracted to things with history. When I travel, I tend to go to cities that are deeply connected to their long history. I am also very interested in new cultures, but most of the time they are following something from the past, or on the contrary, they are trying to reinvent their history and traditions. I believe that knowing the history is very important to create something new. For this dress, I was inspired by classic ball gowns and couture dresses. I didn’t just recreate them as they were but reinterpreted them in a modern and more lighthearted way.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I am very proud to be working on characters and stories that are loved by people all over the world. I used to work in the fashion industry handling fabrics, drawing patterns, and sewing, so that work is quite different from what I do now, but I feel that it is the same in that we are creating products that are loved by everyone. Disney has a long history, and it is an equally wonderful experience to unravel it and to be exposed to new works. I am lucky to work in an environment where I am surrounded by people who support me every step of the way, and that is my greatest treasure.
The Ultimate Princess Celebration Rapunzel Limited Edition Doll releases on shopDisney on July 12. Visit the Disney Designer Collection page on shopDisney to discover more about the Ultimate Princess Celebration Limited Edition Dolls, as well as the talented artists who designed them. And stay tuned for even more to come from this collection soon!