My cohorts wrote equally lovely and interesting posts on Disney princesses and their relationship to our lives and romances. I wish I had something as interesting to share! But, when I tried to write my follow-up, I started to get angry. I love Disney. I own many Disney princess movies (ahem, family and friends, Tangled is coming out soon and my birthday is near), but I don’t like to think about them too critically. Inevitably I start to wonder about the message the movie is sending, the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) racist undertones, or how Disney butchered the original stories.
Instead I like to focus on the beautiful animation, funny animal sidekicks and fantastic songs. I have an iPod playlist dedicated specifically to Disney music. It motivates me while working out and cleaning my apartment.
One of my all time favorite Disney movie is Sleeping Beauty, solely for the animation. It is unbelievable. For those of you who are not Disney fanatics, medieval European tapestries inspired the animation design. Sleeping Beauty is one of those rare Disney movies that give us a time period, or at least a slightly more obvious one. Cinderella on the other hand always baffled me.
So, let’s play a little game. What time period do I take place in?
Snow White’s high starched collar is reminiscent of 16th century ruffs and collars, but the rest of the dress is too simple. There are no crazy hoops or panniers that were so common in 1500s. Nor, did women wear bows, but I’m assuming that was based on fashion of the 1930s (time of animation).
However, the prince’s outfit does seem to fit the standard men’s wear of the time. The sleeves are puffed, the tunic covers the split between the legs (the codpiece was just coming into fashion and before that, there was just a hole, covered by the tunic; wardrobe malfunction heaven). And, he carries a sword, a very important sign of nobility.
Mostly I’m basing my theory on the stepsister’s clothing choices and Cinderella’s ball gown. Check out those bustles! And panniers! Looking solely at the fashions, I’d guess late 1800s. Most likely 1880s based on research I did for this article on a wedding dress (here are some other examples). Yet, the rest of the movie doesn’t seem to fit this time period.
I also imagine it’s supposed to take place in Germany. Especially since Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle in the movie and Disney World, is in Bavaria. However, nothing in the movie looks German. This is most likely since Disney based the movie on Charles Perrault’s version. AKA the French version. Yet, things don’t seem French either… but that could just be me.
The Little Mermaid:
Apparently, Ariel is 16. If you ask me, that is faaaar to young. But, in our past, 16 was a perfectly acceptable age to think of marriage and love.
Anyway, I don’t think Ariel’s age is apparent until she becomes a “human,” with legs. On land, with that huge bow she looks young, but underwater she looks very mature (and developed) for a 16-year-old. I think this is the most ambiguous Disney time period. I can’t place any of Ariel’s clothing. And, as far as I know, there are no time periods where men, especially princes, could run around in just their shirtsleeves. What are your thoughts?
Sapphire thinks it takes place in some Mediterranean setting–South of France, Spain, Greece, etc. But as far as eras go, I’m not sure.
Beauty and the Beast:
Beauty and the Beast gives us a setting–France–but the era is still uncertain. The Beast’s clothing looks very post-French Revolution. In France, at the time, no one wanted to look like an aristocrat and strayed from the lush velvets and brocades, while in England, Beau Brummel introduced crisp, white linens and simple, tightly tailored pieces. However, Belle’s clothing does not fit this time period (picture any Jane Austen adaptation and that is what she should be wearing if she were to match the Beast).
Belle’s clothing is all over the place. The gold dress looks like an 1860s ball gown, but the blue and white day outfit… I have no idea.
I’m not a big Aladdin fan and I don’t know much about Middle Eastern culture, so I don’t even have a guess as to the era. What about you? Do you have any guesses? I do know that no woman would run around with their midriff showing in the Middle East at any time period.
One thing I noticed during my “research” (movie watching) is that all the day dresses worn by the characters show ankles. Is this to further enforce their age? In Victorian times anyway, girls wore shorter skirts and letting them out as they mature. Wearing long skirts and putting your hair up was a sign of maturity; finally reaching womanhood. However, I think, in most other time periods, all females wore long skirts. Including children. Maybe it’s a subtle sex symbol; a view of a woman’s ankle was just as titillating as cleavage in the past.
Or maybe I’m thinking about this far too much.
Do you agree with my guesses? Have any other ideas?
For further reading on fashion through history check out “Dressed for the Occasion: What Americans Wore 1620-1970” by Brandon Marie Miller and/or “How Underwear Got Under There” by Kathy Shaskan. Yes, these are both children’s nonfiction, but they have lots of good information!
Read Full Post »