With Cinderella back in the zeitgeist, it’s worth examining just what kind of impact this simple fairy tale has had on every woman’s psyche – and her wardrobe – since Charles Perrault published it in 1697. Cinderella may be about a girl who is mistreated by her stepmother and rises up to be queen, but the first thing any girl will tell you about Cinderella is her beautiful gown, and her glass slippers.
This truth was brought home to me in a serious way when I saw Disney’s new production of Cinderella. Although there have been countless films, tv movies, ballets, operas and plays of Cinderella, until now the one we all knew best was the 1950 animated film by Disney. But this new version, by virtue of it being live action, and spectacularly done, will no doubt take its place in our hearts as “THE” version of Cinderella. And for good reason.
I’m going to skip raving about the thoughtful script, expert direction, wonderful performances, lovely score, and inspired art direction, and jump right to the costumes. Costume designer Sandy Powell knew she had to make the gown and the slippers that would live in every girl’s dreams, and in my opinion, she hit is out of the park.
The slippers were made by Swarovski, the world-famous Austrian crystal maker. They are so luminescent they look CGI, even though they are real. (At least, in static shots – they are physically impossible to walk in, so they are indeed animated on Cinderella’s feet in moving shots.)
But the gown is the real show-stopper. So, what does it take to create the magical ball gown of every girl’s dream? It takes 270 yards of the finest silk gauze (technically, silk crepeline) layered in colors for an iridescent effect, with over four miles of hem. This gown moves like whipped cream in slow motion. I also calculate that the retail value of the fabric alone is over $20,000.
But it’s not because of the money that you don’t have that dress. Think about it: If your Fairy Godmother showed up and gave you that gown, the first question you’d probably ask her is “Where would I wear this?” There are no princes giving balls in Humboldt County any time soon. And if there were, most people would show up in jeans. Which makes me kind of sad. When was the last time you wore something truly fabulous? Your prom? Wedding? Quinceanera? It’s been a while…a really long while…hasn’t it? I’m sorry, but I think that’s sad.
I am hoping that Cinderella can inspire us all to be as beautiful as we can be, not for other people, but for ourselves. After all, the prince doesn’t fall in love with Cinderella because of her gown. But Cinderella feels so happy and beautiful in it, it makes her shine even brighter from within. And I’m thinking that we should all take the opportunity to shine like that a whole lot more often in our lives.