The princess bride

Disney weds girlish fantasy with adult desire for, er, girlish fantasy
December 12, 2007 2:49:46 PM

DRESS THE PART (From left) The “classic glamour” of the Cinderella gown, and the “sultry and alluring” Ariel fishtail.

When it comes to weddings, at this point in my life, I have no idea what I should want. A Kirstie Kelly for Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings dress is yet another baffling piece of this puzzle. I watch Platinum Weddings reruns on the Style Network, and am somewhat addicted to following tricked-out bridezillas as they meticulously plan every last detail of their masturbatory celebrations, right down to the crystals on their cakes, the custom-made linens, and of course, the dress. “I feel like a princess!” they all squeal during their first fitting. “You look like a princess!” sigh their mothers, or bridesmaids, or BFFs. It’s true. They do.

Pop culture offers a wide variety of princess role-models, but Disney’s Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Jasmine, et. al. reign as the femme fatales of the princess brat-pack. With these visions of fairy-tale loveliness in its corner, Disney has lured little girls and tweens into its $4 billion film-and-aftermarket Disney Princess enterprise, which includes toys, CDs, and books (see So it was only a matter of time before Disney connected the dots between fantasy and reality and decided to conquer an older, but no less susceptible, demographic.

In April, Disney launched a line of princess-inspired wedding dresses (available at, conceived by veteran couture eveningwear and bridal designer Kirstie Kelly. The gowns were in stores by September — high shopping season for spring and summer brides. At the end of October, Disney announced a follow-up line and tie-in Maiden gowns for bridesmaids, and a line called Jewels, which includes veils, necklaces, and assorted sparkly accessories. A Blossoms collection for flower girls will be in stores this month. It makes sense: what’s the use of being in the fantasy business if you don’t offer a way for a real girl to live out one of her own?

Jasmine has a tattoo?
You know that a high-end designer has made it when they go slumming with a mass-market chain — such as Roberto Cavalli for H&M, Erin Fetherston for Target, or Stella McCartney for adidas. Kelly’s alignment with Disney is a clever collaboration. It brings up the corporation’s luxury profile and catapults hers into the mainstream.

Kelly, who turned out the first line in just six months, is already an expert at combining the Disney Princess sensibility with a precise shot of chic. “I just sort of entrenched myself with the princesses,” she says.

Disney’s wedding initiative is all about meshing its image with the aesthetic proclivities of adult women who still have girl-crushes on caricatures. “I spent a lot of time watching the films when I was developing who the princesses would be for today’s woman,” says Kelly. “A lot of it came down to describing their personalities through the gowns and through the stories we tell about them.”

Finding the princess in you amounts to taking a Disney-fied, saccharine version of a Jungian personality test. “Belle is more stylish, sophisticated — she’s book smart,” explains Paulette Cleghorn, the line’s head of sales and marketing. “She wants really nice fabric, she wants draping, she’s into that European flavor. Snow White is more demure and sweet. Jasmine’s more bohemian. She wants to have fun at her wedding. She’s got a great body and probably has a tattoo somewhere on her back!” The Ariel dress is a sleek fishtail cut that Cleghorn describes as “sultry and alluring,” while Cinderella and Aurora/Sleeping Beauty are somewhat less distinguishable: the former is classic glamour; the latter is “lovely and romantic.”

Disney is also making it possible for couples to plan their entire wedding based on Disney archetypes and fairy tales — essentially, the ultimate fantasy day. You can host your wedding at romantic locations at the Walt Disney World Resort or at Disneyland, or you can have a destination wedding on a Disney cruise line. If you didn’t get married at Disney World the first time around, you can renew your vows there. Or, you can treat yourself to a Disney honeymoon. The Disney wedding, however, is the bread-and-butter of festivities, an event that comes with seemingly endless customizable options.

Earlier this year, Disney hired celebrity party planner David Tutera to take the helm of Disney’s Couture Wedding Collection packages (see The cheapest Disney wedding starts at around $4000, but if you want Tutera’s guidance, you must be prepared to spend a minimum of $75,000. Couples can choose from one of four themed packages, and can further tailor them by adding extras such as a $7000 orchestra or a 10-hour photography package ($5220). If you like, you can actually be Cinderella, and roll up to your nuptials in a coach pulled by six white ponies, guided by a driver and two footmen in “full regalia” ($2700).

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