Cultivating Your Creativity in a Whimsical Wonderland
Cheshire cats, teacups and hookah smoking caterpillars? Oh my! Yes, I am making reference to one of the most creative, enticing, and whimsical fairy tale films of all time (drum roll, please)- Alice in Wonderland. While Alice herself may have been neither the picturesque, nor stereotypical Disney princess, she was a seemingly simple girl with an extraordinarily active imagination that more than made up for her lack of possessing the regal title of "princess". At this point, I’m sure many of you are wondering (1): Is this is a film review, and/or (2): How on earth does a children’s fairy tale relate to the fashion industry or personal style? Well dolls, Alice in Wonderland can teach you everything that you need to know about freely cultivating your style and understanding the minds, and creative thought processes, of fashion designers throughout the industry. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, so bare with me.
As a child, I spent countless hours getting lost in my favorite Disney films at my grandmother’s house; my infatuation with the plots, characters and ensembles only grew exponentially with each tedious ‘rewind’ of the VHS tapes. Princess Jasmine was my exotic, yet all too familiar idol, so naturally I was over the moon when my aunt brought me a ‘magical flying carpet’ from Bahrain. Although, unlike Aladdin, I could never seem to master the art of flying, or much less get off the ground- epic fail. Snow White taught me that it was acceptable to embrace my naturally fair skin, while Cinderella subliminally taught me the disturbing lesson that some social circles will accept ‘outsiders’, only after they receive materialistically-based makeovers from fairy godmothers (a personal stylist of sorts). Yet, regardless of the positive or negative lessons learned from these fairy tales, I ultimately aspired to emulate and replicate the iconic characters in their form of dress. I was successfully able to do so through store-bought costumes that were nearly identical to the garments featured on the original films, but looking back, I realize that those costumes were a grave form of consent to conformity and mere imitation.
I personally believe that as we grow and mature into adulthood, we begin to stray from the childlike behavior of mimicking our surroundings and slowly begin to develop the skills, and desire, to create our unique identities through personalization. Since my own childhood, I have evolved into an individual who ceases to replicate the dress, actions and mannerisms of others, but instead, I openly embrace whatever inspires me and alter it in a way that best suits, and coincides, with my own style and sense of being. It was only recently, while choosing an outfit for my younger sister’s Wonderland themed party, that I came to the pleasant conclusion that Alice in Wonderland still serves as a wonderful platform for imagination and creative ingenuity- for both myself and designers alike. Yet, it's key to note that I came to this conclusion after making the decision to create an outfit that embodied an Alice in Wonderland vibe, as opposed to merely purchasing a ready-made costume.
The film is filled with outlandish backdrops, brimming with characters of the edgy and eccentric type, and sprinkled with bits of a bohemian flower child’s essence- it is eclectic, to say the least. As it relates to style, Alice in Wonderland teaches us that our stylistic eccentricities should be embraced and that we should allow our imaginations, and creativity, to flow naturally. Alice created a world in her mind where she was riddened of restraint and free to explore the imagined realities of her wildest dreams. The characters of Wonderland were not mere replicas of what we see in real life (e.g. The Cheshire Cat versus an ‘average’ cat), but instead, they were altered and transformed into something that spoke uniquely to Alice’s heart and mind- projected images of her ‘style’, if you will. Style and expression of oneself should follow this same ‘Golden Rule’. Why must there be the need to replicate and duplicate what is already pre-existing,much like the store-bought costumes?
Designers and photographers throughout the fashion industry have not only taken Alice in Wonderland as a form of inspiration for collections and editorials, but they have taken inspiration from everything around them- it’s simply a matter of finding a muse. Once again, we reach the conclusion that fashion and style are built on the fundamental concepts of inspiration, imagination, beauty that is in the eye of the beholder, and emotions. While some of you may view Alice in Wonderland as a quirky film from your childhood that you have long forgotten, others, such as myself, may feel divinely inspired to brew a pot of tea and get straight to work on a flower halo, all the while sporting a flowing maxi dress and a miniature tophat with shabby chic undertones. I will never tire of the images and scenes that come to mind when I think of Alice and Wonderland, but I refuse to ever make the mistake of purchasing a ready-made costume ever again. Why get lost in the flock when you can get lost in your own creativity?
A vow to the arts, till death do us part.
xx Dressed to Death xx
Note: All references are to one of the earlier versions of the film that most of you are familiar with- it was directed by Clyde Geronimi and released in 1951. While the 2010 version (directed by Tim Burton) is fabulously psychedelic and full of visual eccentricities, I’m an old soul with an appreciation for ‘originals’ (Sorry, Johnny!).