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Monday, November 12, 2012

A Disney Fashion Report: Alfred Angelo, Harrods & Sephora

As part of the Cinderella anniversary celebration last month, along with the new Disney Bridal collection for 2013, Alfred Angelo debuted the Cinderella Diamond Collection. Part of what is so special about these 5 dresses is that they come in blue, but a bride can also get them in white or ivory.


The first two and the last one are my personal favorites! If you love any of these gowns, you had better hurry and check out one of the trunk shows they'll be located at. They will only be available to try on through March 2013. For tour dates, just head to alfredangelo.com.

Of course, the regular collection has some nice additions to the Disney Bridal line, too. This first one, the new Belle gown, is my personal favorite - I can't help but think this is what the bridal baby of Ines Di Santo and Kenneth Pool might look like.

Belle
Snow White
Rapunzel
Tiana
Ariel
Jasmine
Cinderella
Aurora
Alfred Angelo isn't the only one designing Disney Princess-inspired gowns, though. Oh no. For Harrods' holiday window display this year, many of the big-name designers have created their own spin on Disney's popular princesses and heroines' ensembles to create some really stunning gowns and fantastic displays.

Cinderella by Versace

Aurora by Elie Saab
Ariel by Marchesa

Mulan by Missoni

Jasmine by Escada

Belle by Valentino

Pocahontas by Roberto Cavalli
Rapunzel by Jenny Packham

Snow White by Oscar de la Renta
Tiana by Ralph & Russo
Gorgeous, aren't they? I only wish I could see these displays in-person myself! For more info, check out this link at Vogue here.

As for Sephora, the Cinderella Collection has proven to be quite popular. I was informed that women have literally been fighting over makeup palettes. Ladies, I understand the love over this Cinderella makeup, but please, let's not hurt each other! Besides, from what a little bird told me, Cinderella will not be the only Disney Princess Collection released at Sephora.




Apparently Cindy was just the first princess to be released, and we should expect to see a long line of Disney Princess Collections released. I personally cannot wait to see which princess gets introduced next!

In the meantime, however, if you still want your Cinderella pieces, you'd better hurry up and get them quick! The Sephora in Anaheim in Downtown Disney is the last to have any on display, acts as the main stocking location for these items, and once they're gone, that's it! No more! They are clearing out their inventory for the holiday season and these beauty buys will not last forever. It may not be as soon as midnight, but it is coming. If Disneyland is too far away, you can still order some of these items online. Everything is quite nice, and of good quality. I especially enjoy the perfume. It is light, elegant, and can easily go from day to night.

Disney is quite fashionable this time of year, isn't it? What do you think about the new looks from the runway and the Harrods displays? Are you planning to grab any last-minute Cinderella Sephora buys, or have you already? What do you think of them? Are you excited for the future collections coming? Let me know in the comments section!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Lucasfilm & Disney Deal & What to Ponder

I'll be honest with you all - when I found out about Lucasfilm being sold to Disney, I essentially freaked out - and that may sound overly dramatic, but it's the truth.

I mean, here I have my two childhood loves officially becoming one entity. It's a really, really big deal.

But like all unions, one must enter with caution, and not so lightly. A seventh Star Wars film? Really?

After the prequels, any OG Star Wars fan should be nervous. I haven't watched Revenge of the Sith since it came to theaters - once was enough, thank you. Painful dialogue between characters, too much CG hurting an audience-member's eye that craves some practical sets, plot holes and confusion hurt what could have made three truly spectacular films. But as RedLetterMedia has pointed out, the prequels were a set of stories that didn't really need to be told in the first place. Part of what drove the creation of those prequels and what drives the creation of this seventh movie is pretty easy to distinguish - money. Those prequels were not well-received by audiences, but they still came out in droves to see them. I'm pretty sure Disney is counting on this. The success of marketing these characters (well, the right ones) at the parks has proven to be very successful.


Anyhow, a seventh film has no necessity in the Star Wars universe. There is so much extra canon from books, games etc. It bothers me that the creation of a sequel was literally the first thing that Disney declared it would be doing with its new rights over Lucasfilm. Reports claim that this new sequel will not really be directly connected to the characters and events we've seen unfold from previous films, but rather be its own new story. Star Wars is about R2-D2 and C-3PO though, so I hope they will still be present (and I mean, they're droids - they can't die, after all). If any of the original characters are in this film, they need to be played by the original actors. I'm pretty sure Anthony Daniels will always make himself available at the very least.


This acquisition isn't just about Star Wars, either. It's Lucasfilm as a whole - so it also raises a red flag for Indiana Jones. Are we going to see more Indy sequels with Shia? Please, please no. I did have a friend make a suggestion that Indy could be the new Bond, and new actors could play him every so often. It's not the worst idea, but Harrison Ford was my first love - not quite sure any other actor could quite live up to that image. Maybe something along the lines of this would be the most ideal:


The other thing is that, not too long ago, Disney acquired Marvel. They seem to be on the warpath to control the biggest and the best in entertainment offerings and merchandise. While this may provide some convenience to consumers and provide fun crossovers, I think the last thing any of us want is one giant entertainment monopoly. Monopolies are bad because without competition, a business will not strive to do better by consumers. If Disney owned every single toy a child would want, prices on items would most likely go through the roof, and no one would be able to have choices and no company would challenge Disney with better deals. Let's just hope they don't buy Hasbro.


But this new acquisition also has it upsides, which gives me a "new hope." (Yes, I had to do it.) Lucas can't toy with his creations and hurt them anymore. The man became too rich and powerful and those around him were too afraid to speak up and tell him something was a bad idea. Placing Lucasfilm in the right hands could strengthen it's properties. And it's not like Disney just gets to run around willy-nilly with it - Kathleen Kennedy, who has been the Co-Chair of Lucasfilm with George, will become President of Lucasfilm and report to Alan Horn, the Chairman of Walt Disney Studios. There seems to be at least a decent amount of checks and balances in place here.


Shopping could become easier, too. It might be somewhat jarring, but I'd love to be able to walk into my local Disney Store and actually purchase Star Wars and Indiana Jones items (let's hope the adult crowd doesn't get alienated here - I mean, Disneyland carries some awesome Junk Food Star Wars apparel).


Speaking of the parks, that's what I'm really excited about regarding this deal. Who cares about Avatarland when we could potentially get whole lands/areas devoted to Star Wars?! I'm sure Disney sees how good of an investment that would be. And since Disney can't create any Marvel attractions in Walt Disney World due to the agreement with Universal...well, let's just say that Universal is probably stressing right now. Let's hope those Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion plans are extra spectacular! In any case, this will be good, healthy competition. Disneyland is too short on space to really create a Star Wars land (and logistically it can't work with the Iron Man attraction coming, Space Mountain etc.) but perhaps when more expansion plans are created, we could see another Star Wars attraction somewhere. And hey - maybe, just maybe, somewhere down the line we could see that original Indiana Jones multiple-attraction concept come to fruition. Where not only would guests ride through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in jeeps, but also on a mine cart roller coaster, on Jungle Cruise boats and aboard the Disneyland Railroad. This piece of concept art always has Disney theme park fans swooning.


I know that some of you are probably worried about Disney cheapening Lucasfilm - not just in image by making it more "family-friendly" and sticking Mickey ears on every character (I will admit, if I see one more "Disney Princess Leia" art piece, I'll lose it), but in terms of financing. Lucasfilm has been a huge innovator in terms of special effects and that kind of work never comes cheap, but has a huge payoff when done right. While Disney has cut corners in the past on things, they are usually skies-the-limit when they know the product will be a success - Disney loves to make anything they can a franchise. Franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones rake in a lot of money, so anything done with these properties will get the proper support financially and creatively. Let's not forget that Pixar actually came from Lucasfilm - Disney is very generous with John Lasseter and everything that comes out of that studio. I'm positive that Lucasfilm will get the same premium treatment.

It is also important to note that Disney will be saving as much as $20 million a year because of this deal through ILM, which is pretty amazing, and will only mean bigger and better effects for their films.

So, in conclusion, while I may have my reservations about this merger, I think that some really amazing things could be coming our way as a result. I am hopeful, but remember, Disney - Solo is watching!


Friday, October 26, 2012

The Reason Why Stepmothers Have a Bad Rep: Lady Tremaine...& Other News

Okay, I misspoke. I had every intention of making separate posts for this, but the stories tied together so nicely that I felt they should be introduced together.

October is not only for Halloween. This year it has also been for Cinderella's anniversary and the many things that have accompanied it. So to finish off my villain spots for the month, I felt that it would be most fitting to include a villain that often gets overlooked - Lady Tremaine.


This is a woman with high standards, a commanding voice and a glare that could stab you in the chest. She is a mother that is overly-biased towards her own daughters and will do anything she can to get ahead in society. While she might not be the first character to come to mind when one thinks of a Disney villain, her mere countenance has rendered her a classic, and continues the social stigma that stepmothers are pure evil. She is the quintessential cruel mother that plays favorites, shouts, glares, and exercises her authority unjustly to simply feel the satisfaction that she can.


Part of the excellence of this character's performance comes from none other than the actress that voiced her. Eleanor Audley was a fantastic stage actress that lent her voice not only to Lady Tremaine but also to Maleficent in later years. In fact, much of Cinderella was actually shot in live-action sequences so that the animators could trace over the footage and speed up the animation process. Disney has generally used live-action footage as reference for animating, but the process on this film had some of the animators rather miffed.


But getting back to Lady Tremaine...why is this woman so hell-bent on making Cinderella's life miserable? You would think that she would honor her late husband by taking care of his surviving daughter, who lived in their French ch√Ęteau long before she and her obnoxious daughters moved in. You would think that she would take pity on this girl, who first lost her mother and then, not too long after, her doting father as well.


As for the once prosperous home, Tremaine and her daughters drove the place into ruin. Upper-class people that lose their wealth often have trouble adjusting to living more simply. Since the fortune was squandered, the help that was once employed was let go, and who better to pick up the slack than Cinderella? It's not like the girl had a choice, really...either she stayed and did whatever she was ordered to do or she would end up on the street.

The film Ever After played with this idea, and I think it connects with Disney's classic telling of Cinderella as well...Lady Tremaine probably harbored resentment towards Cinderella because she was jealous of the love and affection her new husband showed towards his first daughter. This image says everything, I think, and takes place at the same time as the previous image.


While much of the subtly here might fly over children's heads, there is a lot being communicated in this scene, and it is clear that there is a separation between the original family and the new family. Instead of everyone spending time together, the family is already split in two. Perhaps Lady Tremaine and her daughters did not want to go outside and possibly get themselves dirty with the animals. Maybe they were never even asked if they wanted to go outside and Cinderella and her father wanted to spend some special father/daughter time. What we do know is that while most newlyweds are usually joined at the hip and like to spend a lot of time together, they already seem to be very far apart. The use of light and dark in terms of animation also tells us a lot about the moods of the characters. You can almost feel the hatred brewing inside of these girls and their mother.

One other thing we have to remember is that Lady Tremaine came with her own two daughters into the new family. She was probably also a widow, and Cinderella's father probably felt a connection with her in that way - if nothing else, he was seemingly doing something kind for her and her daughters by ensuring that they had a home and future. The marriage would be very beneficial to Tremaine - did she attempt to seduce him into marrying her, or was it a mutual desire? None of us can know for sure, but we do know that the woman is all about brown-nosing in order to elevate her station.


Once Cinderella's father died, Tremaine's true colors were revealed. Obviously a mother wants her daughters to feel pampered and spoiled, and since all three of them harbored resentment towards this girl while the father was alive, Tremaine knows that she can let her daughters "rip and tear" at Cinderella now, completely free from having to worry about getting into trouble over it. The whole thing probably turned into a game for these women.

Tremaine could also be a bit bi-polar with a superiority complex. I'm confident in at least the latter.

I mean, come on...she named her cat Lucifer? Lucifer?! The name of the devil? How evil can this woman be? What's even more disturbing is that her new husband should have known about this, as he is present in the beginning of the film.


Anyhow, if nothing else, Lady Tremaine reminds us of how great our real mothers are (or gives us some tell-tale signs that we are living with a nasty tyrant). And if any of you are or become stepmothers yourself, try to remember to not play favorites and actually do some house cleaning and cooking yourself. Seriously, don't be a jerk.


There's not a whole lot to shop for in terms of this character. The Disney Store did make a limited edition doll that was released with the limited edition Cinderella doll, but she is already sold out. You might be able to find her on ebay. She looks pretty good.


Otherwise you could get her in the Cinderella doll gift set.


The WDCC has a couple of Lady Tremaine figures, including:


But yeah, that's kinda it.


So, what's the other Cinderella story?


Apparently the people running the Disney Parks campaigns needed a new "thing." And this new thing will have new things constantly coming and going, like this giant ice sculpture in Times Square.

The oh-so-clever name that they have given this promotion? "Limited Time Magic."

Yeah, I was being sarcastic. Okay, I understand why they picked that name; it signifies to the audience that all of these really awesome things that are coming only last for so long before they are gone and a new special offering comes in. But I'm going to be honest here - I never want to think of magic as a limited time thing, especially when it comes to Disney. The undertones of that phrase are actually quite disconcerting for long-time fans of the parks.

They announced this promotion this month, along with all of the other big Cinderella-related things. Why couldn't they have used a name relating to the film as well? "When the clock strikes twelve." "Back into a pumpkin." I'm not a promotion name generator, but I firmly believe there is gold in there somewhere to get the right message across. This name that they have chosen sounds awkward at best.

But ignoring all of that, the special offerings sound quite promising. One special thing they talk about in the article is about Friday the 13th, which will occur in September 2013. Since it is a special date that will take place during the Halloween celebrations, Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios are staying open until the 13th hour (meaning 1 a.m.). The Disney Villains are to host a dance party with other tricks and treats occurring that night. It sounds like a lot of fun, though I imagine that crowding will be a nightmare.


Anyhow, that does it for my October Disney villains posts. Maybe I will do more next year! There is still much more to discuss, but as Jack Sparrow would say, I must "wait for the opportune moment." 

In the meantime, tell me - did you enjoy the villains series? What do you think of this new promotion?


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Evil Queen, Disney's OG Baddie!

When Walt Disney decided to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, people said he was crazy. Who would sit through a feature-length film entirely made from hand-drawn animation?

Walt had a knack for one-upping his critics by blowing the general public away, but it was still a meticulous process on his end. When trying out new things, it is often best to utilize elements that the public already loves and slip in the new elements you have created. You also don't want to convolute things too much - keep your key elements simple and easy enough to understand, without dumbing down your product to your audience.


Much like Snow White, the Evil Queen could be criticized for falling into a rather extreme stereotype. But besides recognizing and adapting to social attitudes and circumstances of the times (the film debuted in 1937), Walt had to ensure that his brand new film stuck to a rather basic story with fairly clear character types in order to connect better to audiences.


The Queen's motives for killing Snow White can at first glance seem rather bizarre. Her trusty mirror tells her that her beauty is second to that of the princess she has dressed in rags and doing work. Sure, many women turn life into a competition regarding "who is hotter," and we all know that the claws can come out if a female feels vulnerable in regards to how her beauty is perceived by others. But to kill a girl just because she is considered more beautiful than you? Is this Queen just crazed with ego and power?


But...what if I were to tell you all that in the original story concept for Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Evil Queen actually had a thing for the Prince? As part of the original storyline, she actually proposed to him, he refused, and then took him to her dungeon where she tortured him to try to get him to say yes to her. He would eventually be rescued by Snow White's bird friends. If you would like to hear more about this and the history of the Snow White dark rides in the parks, you should check out this awesome tribute site.

But with that nugget of information, things seem to piece together more easily, don't they? Not only is the Queen insecure about her looks, but there is a younger and more beautiful female that has the affections of the man she wants and thinks she should have. I mean sure, she has some crazy evil tendencies with torture. The moment where she sweeps through her dungeon and says to the sad remains of a skeleton that is reaching for a pitcher of water, "Thirsty? Have a drink!" as she shatters the pitcher makes it pretty clear that this woman is disturbed and crazy. But she does not focus on torturing Snow White - she just wants her out of the way. With her gone, she can be fairest in the land and maybe, just maybe, the Prince will get over Snow White and marry her instead.


So why didn't this story concept make it into the final version of the film? Apparently the animators were having trouble animating the Prince (something that the studio struggled with for decades, and didn't seem to truly tackle until the Disney Renaissance). It is also suggested that, due to the cruel and unusual torturing that would have been depicted, as well as a more extensive look at the Evil Queen's dungeon in general, it would have made the film too dark for audiences. I believe that all of these are strong contributing factors, but I also believe that Walt also felt that while this story concept would have been understood by the audience, it would have diverted the film for too long away from Snow White herself, instead of keeping the film tight and simple. Let's not forget what happened to the extensive footage of the dwarfs (finished in animation in pencil but not color) that was cut from the film. Animation is very time-consuming and expensive, and still Walt cut the footage to tighten up the film as much as he could.


In the end, the Evil Queen does exactly what she needs to do in order to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a clear and concise story. She paved the way for the future of the Disney company, animation, and began a tradition of classic Disney Villains, and because of all these things she is a successful character.


The Disney Store has a few really nice Evil Queen items (some of which are on sale, along with other Villains items!) - my favorite is the pillow.






There is a lot of new Disney news that I'd like to cover. Before the next villains post, I'll be writing about that, so keep an eye open for the next update. See ya real soon!