Meet the Disney Designer Behind Merida’s New Look

merida doll

For the discerning shopDisney shopper or Disney princess fan, the Ultimate Princess Celebration Disney Designer Collection of limited-edition Disney princess dolls in the online Disney store has definitely been a collection to watch (especially since new Disney princess dolls are being released steadily)!

The Official Disney Fan Club called D23 has just interviewed one of the designers behind the newest doll in the online Disney store collection, which is based on Merida from the 2012 movie Brave — and since each doll has a different designer, we’ve gotten to get some sneak peeks at the work that went into this particular doll!

merida designer

Wes Jenkins Credit: D23

Designer Wes Jenkins was charged with designing a doll to represent the feisty Scottish Disney princess named Merida, and the young designer actually identified with his subject in more ways than one.


Credit: Disney Pixar

“Merida embodies the will and courage to be different. I am definitely not your typical 35-year-old male from Indiana,” Jenkins told D23. “I connect with her disillusionment with others’ expectations that you fall in line with the status quo. I never felt compelled to be like anyone else. It didn’t make sense to cover up my talents or try to be good at something I didn’t enjoy. Luckily, I have a family and friends that supported my artistic ambitions while I was growing up. And I’m very happy with where it got me”.

According to the Merida doll designer, the designers who were chosen for this collection were given the chance to request their Disney princess subjects. Jenkins chose Ariel, Merida, and Belle as his top three choices. The task was compounded further by the fact that these designers were specifically meant to “reimagine [the Disney princesses] for a fantastical event—like the MET Gala”.

In the case of Wes Jenkins, this high-fashion and couture theme brought him to old-school Vivienne Westwood designs that were focused heavily on tartan and leather as well as many “punk elements”. We can see a lot of that influence in the resulting Merida doll’s couture outfit, shown below!


The Merida doll from the Ultimate Princess Celebration limited edition collection. Credit: D23

Wes Jenkins also put a lot of thought into making Merida’s fancy outfit one that could still, theoretically, allow her to easily shift into fighting in a battle or horseback riding. Armor braces, a slightly-lifted skirt, and a bear claw etching on her boots all emphasize the adventurous side of this Merida doll, even though she looks more glamorous than the original Merida in Brave.


The Merida doll from the Ultimate Princess Celebration limited edition collection. Credit: D23

The designer also told D23 that he spent a lot of time adjusting Merida’s hair. “The hair on the sides of her head is slicked back in tight braids—like she had pulled her hair out of the way to fire her arrow at any moment,” he said in the interview. “I made it a priority to preserve her signature tendril over her left eye”.


Concept art for the Merida doll from the Ultimate Princess Celebration limited edition collection. Credit: D23


Apparently, Wes Jenkins actually dreamt of becoming a Disney animator when he was growing up — and in a way he has achieved that dream, since he has brought a Disney character to life in a fun new way! However, the designer did point out that “getting here took time and dedication”. He advised that any young dreamers “trust the process” as well as themselves, and that they adjust for failure but also remember to celebrate every success.

Have you seen the other gorgeous dolls in this high-end and limited-edition shopDisney collection?

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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