From Swedish artist Beatrice Lorén, here's Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel and Belle. After the jump: Jasmine (my favorite look, probably), Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida.
Images courtesy of Beatrice Lorén.
fashion, disney princesses, beatrice loren
I think only, like, four of them are actually "princesses" though?
(ironically "Disney villein" more accurately describes the average Disney protagonist than it does the average Disney antagonist)
@stuffisthings All of them are or have been included in the "Disney Princess" lines of merchandise, and all but one (Mulan) are either born princesses or equivalent (Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Merida), or princesses by marriage by the end of the film (Cinderella, Belle, Tiana).
@squishycat I stand corrected! For some reason I thought Snow White, Aurora, and Ariel definitely weren't princesses. Pocahontas technically wasn't a "princess" but close enough I suppose. As for the princesses by marriage... well they aren't princesses during most of the action of the movie (i.e. the part of their life that is actually interesting/notable). Anyway I guess Disney's gross fascination with hereditary aristocracy remains intact?
Wow I also didn't realize Rapunzel was a princess either.
Man, can't they mix things up with a duchess or countess or queen consort or something once in a while? (They should do a Disney Catherine de' Medici -- did you know she introduced ballet to France?)
a princess regardless of her immediate circumstances. Even if she hasn't married her prince yet, she's still a princess deep down. @stuffisthings
@stuffisthings Wow, you've really never read a fairy tale in your life, have you?
@Megasus I guess I thought the whole princess fixation was a Disney invention but it turns out I am actually RESOUNDINGLY wrong.
@Megasus Right? Snow White - always been a princess. Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose - always been a princess, even, I think, in precursors like Sun, Moon, and Thalia. Cinderella - not a princess by birth, but born into a family of means who could possibly be minor nobility. The Little Mermaid - since this is an original story penned by Hans Christian Andersen, we have a direct source - daughter of the king of the sea. Princess. Beauty - another story with a literary source. Daughter of a formerly wealthy merchant, not a princess and not nobility, but at height of wealth probably would have had a chance at marrying in. Jasmine - so, the Aladdin stories in 1001 Nights are basically nothing like the film, but her counterpart is still a princess. Pocahontas - real person. Mulan - not a princess in any version (and maybe a real-ish person?). Tiana - actually a swap here. The Frog Prince story involves a princess who is one by birth - daughter of a king. Rapunzel - another swap, as generally her birth parents aren't royalty. Merida - actually an original story, and one of the few to show, you know, the roles played by royalty in actual diplomacy.
@stuffisthings There's Maid Marian. I think Robin Hood gets knighted at the end? So just a lady. (But she never gets included in these lists. Probably Disney think little girls wouldn't buy fox costumes.) (I would though)
@squishycat The nice thing about being a dummy in the Hairpin comments is it's always highly educational!
@squishycat It's interesting that the father's a merchant in the literary versions, because that makes her middle class... do you know off the top of your head whether or not the French had the same aversion to being in trade as the English?
@happymisanthrope I'm pretty sure in English and French he was a merchant. She also had three sisters.
@happymisanthrope Her father is very, very wealthy before their big loss - wealthy enough to own and pay to crew multiple ships. I don't know specifically what the attitudes of the contemporary French aristocracy were towards the merchant/middle class, but there has always been a certain amount of welcome amongst noble lines for an infusion of great wealth, and the French have always been very fond of their fancy things and of clever, creative people.
I am pretty sure the twelve sisters in the traditional fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses were actually called The Twelve Folkdancing Villens, When They Got Time Off From Their Rising Middle Class Aspirations. Of course that is in the Grimm version, tale #133.
In Russian, where the story is called The Secret Ball in early printed versions, the story was originally titled The Twelve Patriotically Singing Komsomol At The Collective Farm Bouya.
It wasn't until Walt Disney wholesale manufactured a fascination with royalty from beyond the grave, ca. 1995, that the women of the stories in the Disney Franchise were elevated to the nobility. This was something of a challenge for the animators of Pocahontas, who originally had planned to tell the tale of settler society colonialism through the questionably consensual partnering of a Native leader's daughter to a white soldier for diplomatic means.*
Indeed, no one had ever used the erroneous attribution "Indian Princess" or "Cherokee Princess" prior to 2000. This is especially true of American government officials who weren't culturally aware and therefore didn't really understand that Native chiefs weren't really wholesale leaders of a tribe.
*The Disney Princess Revisionist Fascination Plot has been said to reach as far back as 1981, around the time of the marriage of city banker Charles Windsor to local kindergarten teacher Diana Spencer. Disney is said to have employed hundreds of interns to alter news media archives. This is where the whole "actors playing Disney characters never speak" myth originated. The interns have been frightened into silence.
Or, it could be the case that fairy tales are, in part, supposed to be built from formulaic blocks. Repetitious use of language, such as "once upon a time" or "they lived happily ever after" are markers of a particular kind of story. The repeated use of particular social ranks, such as princesses and princesses, stepmothers, widowers, and widows, and social outcasts such as witches, all signal to listeners/ readers the same thing."
Originality is, in fact, rarely the prize element of a fairy tale. Nor is fleshing out detail of these stock roles. In situations where stories were told aloud, it would be the verbal skill of the bard that distinguished a fairy tale. Today, quality of illustration in books or animation in film are crucial to a fairy story's success.
Disney carried out a spectacular, late capitalist commercialization and commodification of fairy stories. It also continued a trend from the 19th c. of taking what were originally quite grisly little tales, and sanitizing them. They'd already gone from tales for whole communities to children's stories. Disney merely mass-marketed to those children, during a time when their status was associated with a long and distinct developmental stage.
Princesses have been part of the package for a really long time.
Okay, all melis-channeling aside.
I did read a cool article a while ago that argued the story Rumpelstiltskin was noteworthy because it was about burghers and their anxiety. In particular, it was supposed to be about flax industry at the transition of the end of the medieval period to the early modern era. Essentially it's about going from making enough for yourself and a little to sell, to a larger scale industry supplying a much larger number of people.
I am confused as to how Rapunzel's 2010 look is not also Jasmine's 1992 look. Or am I the only one who remembers an excess of floral A-line dresses?
@squishycat I remember them! But in my memory the early-90's version had spaghetti straps and was always worn with a white baby T underneath.
@cuminafterall And super-chunky black shoes, and maybe one of those stretchy faux-tattoo chokers.
Urban Outfitters brought that look back in a big way, but for a really short time. Added it to the list of stuff that I am too old to wear/seeing it makes me also feel old.
yeah, I dunno, all of these look like they could be from the same time period? I guess they don't read as distinctly from any era to me, or else maybe I need stereotypes (house dress, bell bottoms, grunge wear) in order to distinguish?
@cuminafterall or cap sleeves and possibly buttons down the front, yes.
@squishycat I'm wondering if maybe it was popular/distinctive for Sweden in that year or something. Both the 2009 and 2010 looks don't really stand out to me as having been popular.
@squishycat I wondered the exact same thing! I even looked down to see if Rapunzel paired her floral dress with Doc Marten shoes or boots. Which I may or may not have worn in Jasmine's day with such a dress...
yeah - i feel like i saw those looks in fashion magazines as what we were "supposed" to want to wear as opposed to what people on the street actually picked up and made widespread. Plus the 2010 & 2012 trends are kind of simultaneous ones (and I am missing the fluorescent trend, but maybe that is 2013).
@formergr I definitely did (a few years later, as my feet did not hit adult shoe sizes until age...8), but also those (Timberland?) boots - my parents ~ruined my elementary school liiifffeee omg~ by buying me the dark brown version instead of the sand color because they were out of the sand in my size the day we went shoe-shopping. (I was also not allowed to wear jellies because I have foot problems and jellies are basically useless as actual shoes.)
@fabel I think part of that might be that over the past couple of decades there has been a lot more variety in general mianstream US fashion and a lot of retro callbacks in what is popular -- so Cinderella's dress is pretty to the minute for 1959, but between the proliferation of vintage shops and pinup style and Mad Men-inspired looks (early seasons Mad Men) you might see a girl in something like that now. Similarly, it seems like we have an "'80s moment" every two years now, so I definitely know people who dress a bit like Ariel.
I'm confused by 2012. Was I supposed to have been dressing like that last year? I don't remember that being fashionable.
@T A@twitter It kind of was - there's been something of a menswear trend. I was expecting more either skinny jeans or boyfriend jeans, possibly with a blazer, and definitely with a scarf. (I work in clothing retail, but primarily in children's/baby, so what I know of women's fashions is spotty, but I have learned SCARVES. SCARVES ALL THE TIME.)
@T A@twitter The artist is also Swedish, and they dress slightly different in Europe than in North America.
@Megasus Okay, this all makes sense now, then.
@T A@twitter I was living in London this time last year and can confirm I own that precise outfit.
I love Pocahontas. Reminds me of Cher in "Clueless."
@greyeminence That was my first thought, too. She needs a little mini backpack!
@greyeminence While I like the look itself, it doesn't really seem to fit Pocahontas' personality. At all.
"Look at that blond English guy. He is too adorably clueless to die."
1989 was also the year Heathers came out, so now I'm imagining Ariel being teased mercilessly by the Heathers for her terrible fashion sense.
I'm noticing a distinct ramp-up in the rate of Disney princesses that I'd never though about before. What happened in the 30 years between 1959 and 1989?
@rosaline 1) No more Walt, who was the driving force behind the focus on fairy tales.
2) Huge, huge budgetary issues that meant that all of the films between 1960-1980 reuse tons of animation sequences and basic character design. The '80s movies are a bit more visually distinct, but were mostly giant commercial failures until The Little Mermaid. Technically, there was a princess in one of them, but Disney basically pretends The Black Cauldron doesn't exist. (As they should, says the giant Lloyd Alexander fan who can't make it through ten minutes of the movie.)
@rosaline I remember the Disney Channel making a huge deal about The Little Mermaid coming out, a return to classic Disney fairy tales and all that. It's crazy to think that the last one before that was Sleeping Beauty, which also wasn't a huge hit in its day and probably contributed to that style of Disney dying out for a while.
What I love is that each character's hair already fit the style of the release date of each film-- i.e., Snow White's hair was already fashionably 30's, and so forth.
You see this happening in costuming all the time. No matter how "historically accurate" the clothes are, the hair and makeup give it away. Just look at Julie Christie's hair in 'Doctor Zhivago' to see what I mean. Oh, or the hair in 'Amadeus"... etc. etc.
@lucy snowe Or baby's hair in Dirty Dancing!
@lucy snowe that, and the color schemes! A Man For All Seas
WORK IT BELLE!!
Also, I have just realised I am not very fashionable.
Aw, all Mulan needs is a wallet chain and she's wearing my unofficial uniform from my freshman year of college in '98.
@Jinxie I... would not say no to Snow White's getup.
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