FA2L is for anyone who cares about beautiful things–clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings–and the interconnected tribes of those who make, sell, market and desire them. If something speaks to you, buy it now or hold your peace: there are links in each story, so the item you want is just a click away. I'd like to hear from you, too: please view my profile, use the email button and send me your comments.MG

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fairy Tales and Fashion: Waving the Magic Wand

Cinderella (1950) is a classic example of Disney animation: blissfully charming, maddeningly superficial and profoundly satisfying by turns. Walt, of course, did his best to tidy up the dark corners of old European tales (in one version, collected by the Brothers Grimm, the wicked stepsisters' eyes were pecked out by doves) but despite his best efforts, Cinderella still resonates deeply because it's no mere cartoon–this fairy story is a childhood revenge fantasy to end all revenge fantasies, and as such taps into ancient, primal and very powerful magical thinking.

The other message that comes through loud and clear, casting its spell over generations of little girls (and boys, for that matter) is fashion's extraordinary ability to transform human beings. Hope is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson wrote; she could have added hope is the thing with sequins and a new pair of shoes. At the heart of most fashionable purchases is the fluttering thought that this garment, worn this night, could lead to...well, to something better. In Disney's push-all-the-right-buttons retelling of the tale, a wronged girl in rags becomes Grace Kelly in couture (watch the whole clip to see one of cinema's more spectacular fashion moments, when a helix of fairy dust settles in glittering spirals to create Cinderella's shimmering ball gown) and snags a prince. These days, consumers would be perfectly happy if wearing a new outfit led to something practical, like a job offer; meeting true love (let alone a prince) might be too much to fathom. As for fairy godmothers, there simply aren't enough of them to go around.