Thursday, 3 January 2013

Disney Princesses

Previous Disney Princess posts have focussed on the realism of the Princess themselves, but what about the costumes they are wearing? The Disney films are based on traditional fairy-tails, which were set in specific time periods, usually around the time they were first told. So the Princesses outfits should surely reflect the times in which they are set?

Now, artist Claire Hummel has re-imagined the Disney Princesses: creating for them beautiful gowns that fit the period the stories are based in...

Snow White
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves - 1937
A traditional Bavarian folk tale, the best known version is that of the Brothers Grimm, collected in 1812. It is set in 16th Century Germany (which is the most likely time-frame for the first appearance of the folk tale) and Hummel's version is based on fashions from the early 1500's

The origins of this story are considered to be the Ancient Greek historian Strabo in the 1st Century AD. However the most popular version comes from Charles Perrault in 1697. Ballets and Pantomimes based on the tale gained popularity in the mid-1800's and it's this period that Hummel has depicted her Cinderella wearing to the ball as it bears the most resemblance to the time-period of the Disney film.

Princess Aurora
Sleeping Beauty - 1959
Based on a classic Brothers Grimm fairy story, the first translation was by French author Charles Perrault in 1697, however it was set much earlier in Medieval Europe. Hummel's version is based on French court fashion from the late 1400's.

The Little Mermaid - 1989
Firs published as a ballet in 1837, Hummel states that Ariel's wedding gown in the Disney film with the 'embarrassing' 1980's sleeves was also reminiscent of the slash-sleeve evening gowns of the 1890's so this creation would not look out of place in a mid-century wedding dress

Beauty and the Beast - 1991
The first published version of the traditional tale 'La Belle et la Bete' appeared in France in 1740, although the abridged version gained more popularity towards the late 1700's. Hummel has created for Belle a ballgown in true, 18th Century French court fashion.

Princess Jasmine
Aladdin - 1992
One of the most popular tales from the legendary 'The Book of One-Thousand and One Arabian Nights' - Hummel has placed Jasmine within early 18th Century Persia: the first translation from Arabic was via French scholar Antoine Galland around 1709.

Based on the historical figure from the early 17th Century, the movie is very liberal with the actual facts (when the 'real' Pocahontas first met John Smith, she was around the age of 10!) however Hummel's depiction (apart from age!) is true to Native American dress of the period

Hercules - 1997
Hercules is the Roman adaptation of the Greek demi-god Herecles: he first appears around 350 BC however fashions of both empires were relatively similar and simple and this version of the mythological characters first wife (according to one version of the story he killed their four children in a fit of madness - not very Disney!) is simply elegant and beautiful - like a Doric column or marble muse.
**I know she's not an official Princess but she's the only non-princess in this series and I didn't want to mess up the chronology!**

Another example of Disney playing fast and loose with historical fact: Fa Mulan (the historical character) probably lived around 386-534 AD, however the Hun invasion of China took place much earlier (around 200BC) and both the clothing the characters wear and the Emperor's 'Forbidden City' is from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Given this historical confusion, Hummel has still created a beautiful costume reminiscent of the late Ming/early Qing dynasty fashions.

The Princess and the Frog - 2009
The Disney film is based on 'The Frog Princess' by E.D. Baker from 2002, which in turn is based on 'The Frog Prince' by... you guessed it; The Brothers Grimm! Disney based their movie in 1920's New Orleans and Hummel has re-imagined Tiana's 'Princess dress' from the movie's finale as a true 20's Flapper dress.

Tangled - 2010
Now, the story first appears written down in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm and is an adaptation of an earlier tale 'Persinette' from 1698, which in itself bears striking resemblance to a 10th Century Persian epic poem. However, Hummel describes her version as 'late regency... circa 1820' reasoning that the Disney version is not tied to any particular land or time, and I suppose it bears a little passing homage to the time period of the Brothers Grimm

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