In the blog “Princess Production,” the important overriding issues of Disney’s Wedding Dress collection are comprehensively discussed in the post “Disney Princess Wedding Gowns.” While surfing the web this afternoon I came across this article from today’s issue of The Journal News, a newspaper based in White Plains, NY, which I think might add to the conversation. It also touches on the recent release of the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Collection at New York’s Bridal Fashion Week just last Sunday.
I may be too sensitive here to the term “girl” because of all the discussions we’ve had this semester about “Girl Power” and its multiple meanings, but it seems a bit odd to me when, in the article, Critchell quotes Kirstie Kelly (the designer of the Disney Collection) as saying “We wanted women to feel like they had something in common with these princesses. We had to identify who the princesses are now and who does the everyday girl relate to.” Why would Kelly first refer to the brides buying these dresses as “women,” and then in her very next sentence call them “girls”? Kelly may not mean anything different in using the two terms, she may not have even realized she’d changed her language, but the issue here seems somehow more important and compounded by the fact that she’s talking about designing wedding gowns inspired by fictional characters from children’s movies.
Although it seems paradoxical that Disney would be able to sell what is essentially a traditional girlhood fantasy to a grown-up, successful, and modern woman, it is exactly that phenomenon that they are cashing in on. “Disney’s Mooney points out that a woman’s first impression of love often comes from an animated character and it’s hard to completely erase that from her mind. “If you think about who the first person who teaches you about love, romance and Prince Charming is, it probably happened between the ages of 2-5 and included Disney.” In addition to using those early childhood experiences, though, Disney also wins here because of their brand loyalty. “Adult women buy into a sort of lifestyle role play…As a brand, Disney has a built-in reputation for quality and trust, Mooney added, so it doesn’t start from scratch when it enters categories such as cruise travel, better furniture or wedding gowns.”
“Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide, said that when the company began developing the marketing concept of the princesses six or seven years ago, the company discovered that the demographic wasn’t limited to the 2- to 8-year-olds Disney was expecting. “We’ve been blown away how strong the demand is for princess thematic things in almost every stage of a woman’s life,” he said.” Add to this the aforementioned ideas about imprinting and brand loyalty, and Disney has a smash-hit in their Fairy Tale Weddings Collection.
To see the newly-released wedding gowns themselves, go to http://www.disneybridal.com/index.html and choose from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Disney’s Jasmine, Ariel, and Belle’s Collections. Also, notice the pseudo ‘mission statement’ on the Home page, which seems to summarize the inherent gender norms of the Disney Princesses quite well.
“The Gown, The Slipper, The Kiss and The Prince. Under it all, every girl believes in the dream. So here is our tribute to fairy tale wishes and finding true love. “