Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fairy-Tale Wedding? Disney Can Supply the Gown

I am not sure what I think about this. Thanks to Kathleen for sending this article from the WSJ my way.
Princess-Inspired Designs Aim to Attract Older Crowd;Subtle Mermaid Styling

February 22, 2007; Page B1
Walt Disney Co. has made a fortune out of turning little girls into princesses. Now it plans to turn big girls into princesses, too.

In a move to expand the reach of one of its most popular franchises, Cinderella and her regal friends are moving into the bridal business with a line of wedding dresses and accessories. Disney has teamed up with couture bridal designer Kirstie Kelly to transform blushing brides into their favorite princesses, complete with billowing gowns and crystal tiaras. At a cost of $1,100 to $3,000 for each gown, brides will be able to walk down the aisle in dresses inspired by Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine or Ariel.


As Ms. Kelly sees it, Cinderella is "classic glamour" -- the dresses in her line come in high-shine satin with ball-gown skirts and make generous use of silver embroidery and crystals. Snow White has a slightly more conservative look dubbed "sweet elegance." Ariel and Jasmine models are considerably racier. Ariel, who played the title role in "The Little Mermaid," has a "sultry allure" and is "comfortable showing her body." Jasmine, from "Aladdin," is "bohemian chic," and her various dresses are big on sheath and lace. In all, Disney will offer 34 princess designs for its first season.

The new wedding gowns, which will go on sale made-to-order at bridal boutiques in North America in June, are an effort by Disney to extend its line of princess paraphernalia to older consumers. Created in 2001 when the company's consumer-products division started packaging its female characters, Disney Princess has grown into a craze among little girls that is fast approaching annual sales of $3.5 billion from costumes, dolls, bedroom furniture and other regalia.

In thinking of ways it could reach outside the core princess crowd of 3- to 6-year-olds, Disney homed in on women who had grown up with the characters. Brides seemed an obvious target.

"Most brides, even the cynical ones, want to be a princess on their wedding day and see their husband-to-be as Prince Charming," Ms. Kelly said recently at her bridal boutique in the upscale Brentwood district of Los Angeles. To date, there are no plans to offer prince costumes for grooms.

But don't expect the gaudy princess costumes that kids run around in. Ms. Kelly says her designs are more about capturing the "mood" of the princess than creating an exact replica of each of the cartoon characters' outfits.

That means using more subtle colors than the startling pinks, yellows and blues of the mini-princess world. The Cinderella designs, for instance, come in refined ivory and champagne, rather than the bright blue of the original attire. That also means including only delicate features from the characters' costumes. One of the five Ariel designs has a subtle mermaid styling to the skirt, for instance. Another has waves of shell-like beading cascading down to the hem.

By making the designs more subtle versions of the characters, the company hopes to appeal to more buyers. "No bride wants to look like she's at her sweet-16 birthday party," says Sandy Ferreira, who has ordered the princess dresses for her Distinctive Designs Bridal boutique in Rockville, Md. "There needs to be a sense of elegance."

Still, some of the dresses go places the princess costumes wouldn't dream of -- namely a sexier look. For the newer princesses, Ariel and Jasmine, the designs feature dropped necklines and backs and bare shoulders. (In an unrelated move, Disney also is using a sexy version of Cinderella in an advertising campaign that features actress Scarlett Johansson in the princess's blue dress.)

The dresses aren't Disney's first venture into weddings. The company has a popular wedding service at its theme parks. Thousands of couples have been married to such tunes as "Someday My Prince Will Come," with their wedding rings offered up in a glass slipper before being whisked away in Cinderella's coach. Yesterday, the company unveiled a new wedding-planning service from celebrity party planner David Tutera, starting at around $75,000 for 50 guests.

Until now, brides who wanted the full princess experience had to design their own gowns. In its research leading up to the decision to make the dresses, Disney found that brides tend to spend more on their dress than they plan to, which amounts to an average 10% of a $26,000 total budget.

The midrange market marks a shift for Ms. Kelly, who usually designs couture dresses costing as much as $20,000 for celebrity clients, including some of the cast in the movie "Wedding Crashers."

To maintain a luxurious look at lower prices, the 38-year-old designer found a Chinese factory three hours outside Guangzhou that was experienced at making wedding dresses.

She used cheaper materials in parts of the dress that don't meet the eye. The Snow White-inspired dresses, for instance, combine silks on the surface with polyester fabrics underneath.

In designing the dresses, Ms. Kelly says she spent night after night watching animated Disney movies such as "Cinderella." Then she tried to imagine what the modern-day equivalent of each of the princesses would be.

She pictured Sleeping Beauty as a creative type and labeled her "pretty romance." Her dress features an elegant A-line skirt with pearl-like beads and crystals at the hem. By contrast, Belle, from "Beauty and the Beast," "knows who she is" and would be a doctor or lawyer. Her dress with "stylish sophistication" comes in taffeta and features her signature roses.

Some of the princesses skew slightly older than others, Ms. Kelly felt. Belle, for instance, is an older bride, perhaps 30-35, while Snow White is younger, maybe in her early 20s.

Ms. Kelly sketched out various designs for each princess, which she plans to unveil at Bridal Week in New York in April. Disney hopes by the end of the year to offer the dresses in around 500 boutiques in North America, and has plans to move into Europe and Japan as well. It's also launching a line of costume jewelry for each princess with pieces costing $45 to $295.

Other accessories will follow in October, including bridesmaid and flower-girl dresses, as well as shoes next year. For now, Disney is recommending existing brands of shoes for each outfit -- for instance, Jimmy Choo for Cinderella and London Sole ballet flats for Snow White.

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Blogger Erin said...

quite the companion piece to the the NYT's article Wow Vows. In particular:
weddings today are all about the bride and her perceived right to be the undisputed center of attention, if only for 24 hours. How much more fun to be Princess for a Day than Queen? “Queen” sounds so matronly, so dandy, while princesses are young and glamorous, with designer wardrobes and handsome suitors. Surely the bloated scale of today’s celebrations has as much to do with the Princess Complex, which seems to have reached epidemic proportions among American females, as it does with crossed fingers and hopes against hope. Recent reports of young girls buying en masse into products and parties with a princess theme find their adult equivalent here, and what starts out as harmless and even charming in childhood comes across in adults as alarming and grotesque. Mead features one bride who opted for Cinderella place cards, plastic “glass slippers” as place-card holders, Cinderella invitations and save-the-date cards, a Disney song after cutting the cake, Cinderella and Prince toasting flutes, and a Cinderella and Prince etched hurricane lamp for the table. Cinderella’s Coach, Mead tells us, which rents for $2,500 per ceremony, “is one of the most coveted items available through Disney’s Fairytale Weddings & Honeymoons program.”

Mead calls the American wedding “a declaration from this culture’s heart. The way we marry, for better or worse,” she claims, “is who we are.” The image in the mirror she holds is far from flattering, showing us to be immature, egomaniacal, insecure.

9:02 PM  
Blogger val said...

I must admit that there is a part of me that loves fairytales, and for many of us, these films are our fairytales.

Tommy and I drove the Rhine last fall where castles and fortresses dot the hillsides. It's easy to feel like you've stepped into an enchanted forest, and I for one would love to walk into an enchanted forest.

Are we being too hard on this? Your wedding is your last chance to play princess before you do become a Queen. What's wrong with wanting to feel "young and glamourous"? And what's wrong with having one day being the undisputed center of attention? One day out of a lifetime doesn't sound that greedy to me.

When I was a kid there was an amusement park in Endicott Maryland called The Enchanted Forest(for some reason I cannot do a hyperlink now) that I adored. They are my earliest memories and some of my best. I would get so excited when my mom took me.

Built in 1955, it was about an hour from our house in Virginia. I couldn't have been more than 4 years old. On the way to the park there was a Mormon temple that easily passed for a castle. I was in heaven.

I wonder if my mom any idea how much I loved going? I think that those memories are what make me want to stay home with a possible future child. Then again, I haven't had to spend 24/7 with a kid yet either.... What's crazy is that my mom was younger than I am now. When did I get this old and why don't I feel like an adult yet?

Link to the farm that is restoring the Park's attractions:

1:17 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

because to me, it's an indication of the (forgive the pun) disengaging of the wedding itself and marriage. the fairy tale ends with the princess living "happily ever after," which our generation has known for years isn't that simple. any more than finding a "prince" resolves everything in your life.

when i look at my mom's wedding album from 1962, she looks completely glamorous. yet she had no money (her mom being a widow since the time she was 3) and even if she did, there was no real industry (at least compared to today) telling her what kind of cake or dress she should buy to have the perfect day.

they've been married 45 years.

11:33 AM  

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