A unique and imaginative exhibition that examined fairy tales through the lens of high fashion.

Before hitting the exhibit, we first travelled to location #2 for our Audrey Hepburn-themed fashion shoot: the fountain at Park Avenue and East 52nd Street. Photos of John forthcoming, but I couldn’t resist getting one of myself.

And, of course, no pilgrimage would be complete without a trip to Holly Golightly’s apartment (located, in reality, at 169 East 71st St) – the perfect place to show off one of my latest tattoos!

All at once am I several stories high,
Knowing I’m on the street where you live.

Here’s to the ladies who lunch(break).

At Le Pain Quotidien: a depressing yet delicious reminder that even chain (bakery-)restaurants in New York are better than actual restaurants back home.

I don’t know why I’m awkwardly palpating Steph’s side as if I’m sizing up her organs for harvesting.

I think we’re in the right place.

In versions of numerous fairy tales by authors such as Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen, it is evident that dress was often used to symbolise a character’s transformation, vanity, power, or privilege. The importance of Cinderella’s glass slippers is widely known, for example, yet these shoes represent only a fraction of the many references to clothing in fairy tales.

Organised by associate curator Colleen Hill, Fairy Tale Fashion featured more than 80 objects placed within dramatic, fantasy-like settings designed by architect Kim Ackert. Since fairy tales are not often set in a specific time period, Fairy Tale Fashion included garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present.

The main gallery space used fashion to illustrate 15 classic fairy tales, arranged within four archetypal settings. Visitors first walked into the FOREST, which included the tales Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The Fairies, Rapunzel, and Snow White and Rose Red. Several variations of Little Red Riding Hood’s red cloak were shown, beginning with a fashionable woolen cloak from the late 18th century—the style that is used to illustrate innumerable versions of the story—and concluded with a fall 2014 Comme des Garçons ensemble with an enormous, peaked hood in scarlet patent leather.

Inspired by the fairy tale–themed fall 2014 presentation by Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, Snow White was portrayed wearing a black organza gown encrusted with rhinestones while lying in her glass coffin.

“Skin as white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony.” Rodarte dress illustrating Snow White.

Apple minaudière by Judith Leiber: the must-have accessory for the discerning coma patient.

The subsection on Rapunzel included a stunning dress from Alexander McQueen’s fall 2007 collection, made from deep emerald velvet embellished with copper-colored beads that created a motif of cascading hair.

The centre of the gallery was dominated by a large CASTLE, in and around which the tales Cinderella, Furrypelts, The Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty were displayed.

Dolce and Gabbana dress illustrating ‘Sleeping Beauty’s Court’: an intricately embellished, hooded ensemble reminiscent of a medieval castle guard’s uniform.

I confess that I didn’t immediately recognise the allusion…

…until John pointed out that it looks like exactly like the book at the start of the movie (not coincidentally his favourite Disney).

At the bottom right of this display, a video screen plays Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et la Bête. In the centre of the tableau are two mannequins dressed in the manner of the characters in the movie.

A very practical pair of Louboutins.

In The Snow Queen, the beautiful villainess wears a coat and cap of pristine white fur, exemplified in Fairy Tale Fashion by an opulent hooded fur cape by J. Mendel from 2011. Beside it, a Gaultier two-piece evening ensemble, symmetrical snowflakes cascading down a dress by Alexander McQueen, and my personal favourite: a 2014 Tom Ford dress, representing the shattered mirror (the superstition of which is rumoured to have come from this very fairytale!).

The Little Mermaid and The Swan Maidens were explored in the SEA section of the exhibition. Charles James’ Swan evening dress (centre), from the mid-1950s, has a full skirt made from alternating layers of black, beige, and brown net that form an exceptionally graceful silhouette.

The Little Mermaid was represented by a variety of beautiful, mermaid-inspired gowns. Left to right: Charles James ‘La Sirene’ dress, Hideki Seo’s elaborate ‘Sea Witch’ and Thierry Mugler’s 1987 bustier and fishtail skirt in metallic lilac fabric.

Finally, the exhibition highlighted two fairy tales that take place in PARALLEL WORLDSAlice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. Although Alice makes little reference to clothing, there is a distinct “Wonderland aesthetic” that has influenced fashion. The ‘Queen of Hearts’ on the far right is another Hideki Seo creation.

This subsection featured a playful, bright blue mini-dress by Manish Arora, adorned with fabric playing cards that reference the tale’s playing card army.

Shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood.

By contrast, The Wizard of Oz makes numerous references to fashion, including Dorothy Gale’s blue-and-white gingham frock, represented by a checked cotton dress from the early 1940s by Adrian, who also designed many of the costumes for the famous 1939 film version of the tale. The Wicked Witch was also represented with various levels of interpretation and literalism (like the black Thierry Mugler in the middle there).

Although Dorothy’s magical shoes are silver in the story, they are better remembered as the sparkling “ruby slippers” from the movie. This pair of bright red, heel-less Noritaka Tatehana shoes (of Gaga fame) was unmistakably evocative of Dorothy’s iconic footwear.

Large-scale photographs from Kirsty Mitchell’s award-winning Wonderland series, for which she designs and makes all of the elaborate costumes and sets.

There was also a denim exhibition on in the same building but I’ll save you the effort and note that this was the sole highlight.

Bizarre coincidence: we’re walking back to the hotel via whatever route gets us there fastest, when John says he’d like to visit Le Labo if we happen to come across one. What should we find on that very street but one of only three Le Labo stores on the whole island (!!!). (Not pictured: Vinny the cute Puerto Rican sales assistant.)

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