Running Amok, Amok, Amok: Interview With Hocus Pocus 2 Costume Designer Salvador Pérez Jr.

We recently had the chance to talk with Costume Designer Salvador Pérez Jr. about his work on the highly anticipated sequel, Hocus Pocus 2.

Hocus Pocus 2 hit Disney+ on September 30, 2022 and lit the Black Candle of nostalgia deep within our hearts. From reuniting us with the Sanderson sisters to the amazing costumes and hilarious dialogue, in my view, there is nothing not to love about Hocus Pocus 2. 

In addition to having the chance to review the film, I was lucky enough to virtually run “amok, amok, amok” and chat to Salvador Pérez Jr. about all things Wini, Mary, Sarah and beyond.

Salvador Pérez Jr. is the accomplished and versatile costume designer behind Hocus Pocus 2. Salvador works in many genres—from feature film and television movies, to television series, commercials and red-carpet gowns. Born and raised in Central California, Perez moved to Los Angeles to attend The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), planning on a career in fashion design, but fate had another path for him.

An accomplished stitcher, his talents were soon discovered by costume designers who took him away from the fashion industry. He first made costumes, then became a costume manufacturing foreman and assistant designer on films like Titanic, The Flintstones, and Barb Wire. With his vast knowledge of clothing construction and manufacturing, Perez was also sought out by the J. Peterman Company to design and develop their Movie Legends Line. When working on The Mindy Project, he produced a fashion jewelry line with Bauble Bar and a signature coat line with, both ventures sold out.

As a costume designer, Perez has taken his experience and applied it to creating characters on projects as diverse as the hit TV series The Mindy Project, where he earned an Emmy nomination for costume design, Castle, Veronica Mars, the Hulu series Four Weddings and a Funeral, Netflix’s Never Have I Ever and feature films like Pitch Perfect 1, 2 & 3, Think Like a Man 1 & 2, Men of Honor, Drumline, Goosebumps 2 and Senior Year.

Perez’s approach is highly detailed and considers every aspect of a character’s personality while telling the story through costume. Knowing how clothes should fit and be made, he has a unique ability to fit and tailor clothes to make actors look their best. He brings his love for his art with him to every fitting, every shopping trip, and every day on set.

Perez’s passion for costume design and the Film & Television Industry was recognized by the members of the Costume Designers Guild, who elected him President of their organization. He is now in his 3rd term. Perez recent projects include a collaboration with Mindy Kaling on HBO Max’s Sex Lives of College Girls and Hocus Pocus 2, from Walt Disney Pictures, which comes to theatres this fall.  Salvador is currently designing Dashing Through the Snow, a Christmas release from Disney +.

Here’s what Salvador had to say:

Q: Hocus Pocus 2 has now been released! How do you feel?

A: I’m so proud of our work on this film, and excited for everyone to see what we created. There have been glimpses on social media and from the paparazzi, but now the fans can see the finished costumes, and I hope they see the love and passion that when into creating the costumes for this iconic film.

Q: It was super cool to learn that you are the costume designer for this film. Tell us a little bit about your career to date and how you landed this exciting job working on Hocus Pocus 2.

A: Well I have to thank Elizabeth Banks for helping me get this film. I met Elizabeth when I costume designed “Zack and Miri” for Kevin Smith, Elizabeth had hired me to costume design for her when she started to direct. Then when she produced “Pitch Perfect,” she brought me on to costume design it. She is friends with Director Anne fletcher and she recommended me to Anne and the team.

Q: What is your favorite costume from Hocus Pocus 2 and why?

A: That’s like asking who your favorite child is!!! I loved recreating the Sanderson Sisters costumes. I wanted to honor the iconic costumes designed by Mary Vogt, but also give them a fresh update. It’s been 30 years, costume technology has moved forward, my background before I was a costume designer was as a costume builder, so I brought my years of experience to this project and I was able to design the new costumes using period correct techniques and much more lavish fabrics. The witches are in the modern world now, so everything around them needed to be a contrast to their 17th century world. They can now get youth in a bottle and Sarah got a modern upgrade for flight with her Swiffer WeJetits the modern version of a mop, and most people already have one in their homes.

Q: Haha, that’s great. Tell us about the entirely new characters and costumes in Hocus Pocus 2. What was your process for striking the balance between creating something from scratch for these new characters while, at the same time, keeping them “in theme” with the already-established classic costumes and characters?

A: I loved creating the younger versions of the witches. I wanted to give them characteristics that showed who they were, and I even stayed with their color palette: Winnifred in green, Mary in burgundy, and Sarah in purple. I had so much fun designing the Mother Witch. I wanted a color that stood out from the ladies so we went with red, her cape was inspired by the red winged raven so we added the red and orange trim to her shoulders, which ironically reminded everyone of Dani’s costume from the original film. I added many “easter eggs” in the costumes, knowing the fans would recognize the details, such as Cassies last outfit which was a combo of Max’s tye dye t-shirt and Allison’s cardigan.

Q: Nailed it. Easter eggs are often the best part!
What deviations from costume, features and fabrics in the first film did you want to make in Hocus Pocus 2 and which did you want to keep the same and why?

A: We couldn’t change their colors or their silhouettes, but we wanted to give the costumes more meaning. The original symbols on Winnifreds coat, were made up symbols. I wanted the new costumes so have a back story, so the symbols are related to Wiccan culture, the 3 moons, the 3 goddesses, 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 had movement 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.

Q: I really loved the embroidery embellishments.
How collaborative was the costume design process in this film and how long did it take to finalize these iconic looks you created?

A: I spent a lot of time with Director Anne Fletcher and Producer Lynn Harris. We talked through the details of the costumes, what they liked about them and what we could change or update. It took about 5 months to develop the costumes. There was a lot of trial and error, many samples of dyed fabric and so many fittings to make sure the costumes fit just right. We had the hero costumes for the film and stunt versions of the costume to accommodate flying harnesses.

Q: What do you think is the most important costuming factor to keep in mind for those recreating Hocus Pocus 2 costumes for Halloween and other events?

A: Have fun with it, don’t get caught up in the exact details, bring your personality to the costumes, add your own details. The costumes should be an inspiration, so let your creativity flow. It’s also all about the accessories. If you are playing Sarah, make sure to add a Swiffer WetJet, it’s perfect for flight and you can use it to clean up after the parties.

Q: Aside from the first Hocus Pocus film, what other sources of inspiration did you draw from in designing costumes for Hocus Pocus 2?

A: We wanted the clothes to have correct period details so we did research on 17th century clothes, so we knew what fabrics were used and sewing techniques. This info came in handy when we had to design and build the costumes for the opening scenes in 1650’s Salem.

Q: What career advice would you give to readers who might be interested in working in the costume design industry?

A: Take a basic sewing class, learn to sew. You may not sew as a costume designer, but you will work with many people who will sew for you, and you need to be able to speak their language, and having a background in costume construction will be an inspiration when you are costume designing.

Q: What do you ultimately hope fans take away from your hard work in Hocus Pocus 2?

A: I hope they see how much I loved the original film and I wanted to honor Mary Vogt’s designs. I know how much the fans love to recreate these looks, and I took inspiration from the cosplayers. I loved how they did their own versions of the costumes and it showed me that there was more than one way to create the costumes.

You can follow Salvador and check out more of his work at @SalvadorPerezcostumes and via his website:

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Jess Salafia Ward is an Aussie, an attorney and a die-hard Disney fan. She is an Elvis-lover like Lilo, and when she doesn't have her nose stuck in a book, Jess delights in sharing with fellow fans all things pop culture, movies, books and history.