Fairy Tale Fashion

Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Rapunzel, Snow White and Rose Red, Cinderella, the Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty – all of your favorite fairy tales, and more, will be on show from January in “Fairy Tale Fashion” at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) in New York – “a unique and imaginative exhibition that examines fairy tales through the lens of high fashion.” The show “features more than 80 objects placed within dramatic, fantasy-like settings designed by architect Kim Ackert,” and “includes garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present,” including “extraordinary 21st-century fashions” from the likes of Thom Browne, Dolce and Gabbana, Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Prada, and so on.

The show blurb emphasizes how important clothes and accessories are in the crucial themes and plot points of fairy stories. Cinderella’s glass slipper is one, or the whole dress she wears. And what about the Emperor with no clothes? The exhibition organizers show some ingenuity in teasing out relevant references. For instance: “Clothing is central to a lesser-known Brothers Grimm tale titled ‘Furrypelts,’ which calls for a cloak of many furs.” The classics are all well represented, though, with past and present garments to illustrate each one. “Several variations of Little Red Riding Hood’s red cloak are shown, beginning with a fashionable woolen cloak from the late 18th century.”

Modern fairy tales and versions of myth are also included. The Wizard of Oz gets a look-in, “including Dorothy Gale’s blue-and-white gingham frock, represented by a checked cotton dress from the early 1940s by Adrian,” and Dorothy’s ruby slippers. (“A pair of bright red, crystal-encrusted stilettos by Christian Louboutin is unmistakably evocative of Dorothy’s iconic footwear.”)

The exhibition runs from January 15 to April 16, 2016, at the Museum at FIT. And for those who insist on sticking to the printed page, “A multi-author book, also titled Fairy Tale Fashion, will be published by Yale University Press in early 2016. Featuring more than 150 beautiful photographs and illustrations, the book expands upon the rich and fascinating topic of fashion in fairy tales.” Sounds like a fairy-tale new year.


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