fairy-tale feels

frozen I

I saw Frozen a couple weeks ago with my friend Savannah. As a connoisseuse of classic Disney, I am always keen to see how the modern renditions compare. I enjoyed how The Princess and the Frog toed the romantic line and more or less adhered to its time period (albeit in a highly glossed-over way, but hey) while sneaking in subtle messages of empowerment. While I don’t necessarily believe that children’s media should always have a positive message (some of the most powerful stories don’t have happy endings, and I don’t think we should insulate kids from that), it’s really interesting to see just how far the fairy-tale medium can stretch. How can you be as true as possible to the original material while making it more accessible to the modern-day sprog? Can you maintain the original message even with the morals updated? I think you can. Shout-out to my lover Joseph Campbell: you can find the hero’s journey in basically anything, no matter how contemporary (or not).

Anyway, I really liked Frozen. Disney animation will never be what it was, but I’m making my peace with that. For 2013, Frozen is a top-quality Disney film. For one thing, it stars my girl Idina Menzel in a role actually quite similar to the one I fell in love with her in. Elsa, like Elphaba, is a proud isolate. And she’s fairly morally ambiguous, which is awesome for Disney. Give the young ‘uns some deductive credit, why don’t you. Also, Disney blatantly lampshades itself in the form of Kristoff: “Why would you get engaged to someone you’ve only known for a day?”

Sooo…I decided to Nordic it up. Wintry pattern mixing, a Currier & Ives backdrop, and a touch of bright. I imagined myself as a contemporary citizen of Arendelle*, relishing Elsa’s legacy and snuggling with my pet reindeer.

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*Walt Disney’s grandfather was named Arundel. Coincidence? More like LIZARD PEOPLE.

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Dress: Savers Sweater: Classy Closet Hat, Shoes, & Scarf: Gifted Tights: Old Gold

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glass slippers will cut your feet

cindy III

Cindy won’t forget herself that easily. You don’t spend two decades scrounging scraps and counting every moment of peace only to slide painlessly into luxury. Cleanliness feels too naked, finery too bright. Trust doesn’t come so fast, not even for Prince Charming. Too many nights she finds herself pulled hearthward, hypnotized, drawn to some semblance of her old life.

Lace doesn’t go with ashes. She aches for a way to hide.

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I love fairy tales. I hope that’s obvious by now. I love the archetypes inherent in them. Their demonstration that humans have always been the same. More than that, I love how many ways exist to twist and queer and bastardize them. The goth in me doesn’t want to let anyone have a happy ending.

How much sense does it make for Cinderella to sail right into royalty without even a nod to her crippling PTSD? Exactly none. Part of her probably wishes she still slept beside the cinders every night. She knows embracing her new life is the clearest way forward, but she can’t let go of the rags and ash.

Under her gold and lace, she still wears that filthy frock close against her skin.

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At least as a slave she was Someone. Now she is Other.

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Dresses, Shawl: for sale at Downtown Threads Mask, Pearls, Ring, Belt: Gifted

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louche lady

morgaine I

I’ve been sitting on this idea for a few weeks now. I had meant to take a backlog of photos before leaving for camp, but heat caught up with me: I melt so easily that posing in full-length dresses in 90-degree weather would’ve made a sullen, sweaty mess. All I can offer for now is the first round, but I’m pretty damn proud of it.

I’ve mentioned before that I am first and foremost a costume designer. My daily outfits are a natural extension of that theatrical sensibility, but there’s just nothing like rolling up my sleeves to costume a show and pinning feverishly until everything is just right. Teaching theater this week has reminded me of just how much I love it.

Lately I’ve been trying to market myself as a freelance costumer. Working in the underbelly of Vermont’s ragtag theater scene would be a childhood pipe dream realized. Outfitting the stage with my vision is almost as good as occupying the spotlight myself, I figure. In the name of turning this blog into not just a personal outlet but a CV of sorts, I’ve decided to start an ongoing series of costume-design posts. All my favorite fictional characters and historical figures are fair game. The Louche Ladies.

Today I start with my favorite mythical witch of them all: Morgaine le Fay herself.

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Although my favorite interpretation of Morgaine, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon version, treats her as rather plain and pious, I decided to go fully regal with this look. I admit I was constrained by what I had in my closet, but I also wanted to broadcast power in a more immediate way than I think plainer clothes could’ve accomplished. In this spangled dress and shawl, Morgaine colludes directly with the dark around her. She establishes her dominion via her finery while still, with the dark themes, acknowledging the partnership inherent in her craft. The spangles, in my mind, represent little sparks of ghostly light she’s pulled from her environment and fastened to her person.

I whitened my face and put on extra lipstick for a bloodthirsty kick. I can pull off the pale, doughy-limbed medieval-painting look pretty well.

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I didn’t get as many pictures of this look as I would’ve liked to. My camera shit out around the ninth shot or so, and dusk was over by the time I’d finished charging the battery. On second thought, though, I like the photoset as it is. This look doesn’t call for too many close-ups. The power is best appreciated as a whole.

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A shawl atop empty air. She’s in ghost form.

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I do wish I’d gotten a better shot of the Celtic-knot headband. It was the perfect touch.

Dress: Stella Mae Shawl & Headband: Gifted Bracelet: Battery Street Jeans

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny7NZPfl0l4

persephone tripled

I got back more shots from Saturday’s shoot. I did two main themes that day: “broken open” and “Persephone”. The latter was entirely improvised: Brent happened to have a pomegranate sitting on his counter, and the rest is (ancient, mythical) history.

Copyright Brent Gould 2012.

persephone defiant   persephone obsequious

I call these “Persephone defiant” and “Persephone obsequious”.

persephone bloody

This one is delightfully anachronistic, what with the nose ring and the bright red lips and the golden nails. It points to how timeless mythology really is.