Have you ever wondered where Cinderella’s shoes are now? Organized by associate curator Coleen Hill, the Fairy Tale Fashion exhibition at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology will give New York a real-life magical atmosphere from January 15 to April 16 2016. The exhibition features more than 80 fairy-tale inspired designs, all placed in a fantasy-like setting designed by Kimberly Ackert, the American futuristic architect who’s behind Ackert Architects (thumbs up for the girl-power collaboration!).
This unique and suggestive exhibition examines the most famous and imaginative fairy tales through the lens of haute couture, exposing both some of the most creative XVIII century and contemporary fashion designers. To make everything look even more fairy-tale-like, Coleen Hilll has chosen to include some pieces of art by some talented XX and XXI century illustrators and photographers, such as A.H. Watson, who is famous for his modern-day illustrations of old fashioned tales, Edmud Dulac, whose H.C. Andersen tale’s illustrations still give the Danish tales a touch of magic, and Kirsty Mitchell, whose award-winning Wonderland series has a special place within the exhibition (it’s probably also due to the fact that it is the first time Mitchell’s photographs are shown in the United States). Dichotomy and contrasts between modernity and the Romantic Period are the exhibition’s leitmotifs.
The ‘Fairy Tale Fashion’ exhibition, the gallery of which is dominated by a large castle, narrates various fairy tales, including ‘Cinderella’, ‘The Snow Queen’, ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ and other works by authors such as Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen, who would probably have loved such an exhibition, back in his days. These fairy tales are thus celebrated among the present-day designers by artists such as Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Prada and Rodarte.
Due to the great amount of references to clothing in fairy tales, and vice versa, the exhibition features different sections, such as the Sea and the Parallel Worlds sections. However, it interesting to notice that although there has always been such a deep connection between fashion and literature, “it’s not something that’s really been explored in a scholarly way to any great extent,” as Coleen Hill has recently told WWD. And that’s precisely why this is a one-of-a-kind exhibition, which elevates fashion to what it actually is and has always been – a form of art.
Anyhow, in the first section the visitors are going to be introduced to ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Swan Maidens’ sea worlds, where Charles James’ Swan and Rodarte’s dresses dominate the scene. Moreover, numerous swan-inspired pieces will instantly make anyone feel like swimming in a haunted lake, while the great variety of mermaid-inspired gowns embellished with pearls and sequins will help the atmosphere reach its fairy peak.
In the Parallel Worlds sections there are both The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland’s inspired pieces, where we can find Louboutin’s Lady Lynch stilettos from the brand’s fall 2009-2010 collection and an impressive Adrian’s dress from circa 1942. This section is undoubtedly the more playful one, and will set anyone’s inner child free.
The Fairy Tale Fashion exhibition also highlights fairies such as ‘Furrypelts’ through a starry dress made by Mary Liotta in 1930, the “Little Red Riding Hood” through a hot red cape from the 18th century and a more modern Comme des Garçons’ piece from 2015, but also ‘Rapunzel’ through an avant-garde dress designed by Alexander McQueen in 2007.
Last but not least, for those who won’t attend the exhibition, as well as for those who will and already know will develop an addiction to it, the Yale University Press, with the support of the Couture Council and The Coby Foundation Ltd, are going to publish a ‘Fairy Tale Fashion’ inspired book, which will feature all these masterpieces.
Fashion has never been so magical!
Photos courtesy of WWD