|10th April 2011||#1|
Join Date: July 2005
Cinderella: Alexandra Newton
Over the years, we have often enthused over fashion campaigns in which full-figured models have taken on the guise of characters from folklore, particularly from the fairy-tales of the Brothers Grimm. With their golden hair, fair eyes, and curvaceous figures, many of the world's most beloved plus-size models embody precisely the kind of Northern European beauty that the Grimms had in mind for the princesses and heroines of their tales, which harken back to the oldest folk legends of the German people, comprising a kind of written record of the Nordic soul.
One plus-size model who certain embodies this timeless ideal is Australian goddess Alexandra Newton (Bella Models, size 14/16). We were delighted to discover that a few years ago, in collaboration with Pantomime Photography (which also co-created the outdoor shoot with Alexandra that we praised in a recent thread), Alexandra shot a complete pictorial in which she was cast as the eponymous heroine of the Grimm fairy-tale Cinderella. And never in animation nor film has there been a Cinderella as beautiful as she.
Alexandra was a little less curvaceous at the time that these images were shot than she is today, but her fair beauty was already evident.
For now, rather than discussing the specifics of the images, we will juxtapose Alexandra's pictures with the text of the Grimm fairy tale, as translated by Edgar Taylor and Marian Edwardes. However, we have altered the original rendering of the name, "Ashputtel" (after the original German Aschenputtel), to the more familiar "Cinderella." This translation is based on the first Grimm collection, Kinder- und Hausmärchen, from 1812. We have condensed it for the sake of space, but do read the text in conjunction with the images. If you've ever wondered whether the original Grimm fairy-tales did, in fact, include passages of bloodcurdling horror amid scenes of lyrical beauty, you are about to find out.
The wife of a rich man fell sick; and when she felt that her end drew nigh, she called her only daughter to her bed-side, and said, "Always be a good girl, and I will look down from heaven and watch over you." Soon afterwards she shut her eyes and died, and was buried in the garden; and the little girl went every day to her grave and wept, and was always good and kind to all about her.
Then they took away her fine clothes, and gave her an old grey frock to put on, and laughed at her, and turned her into the kitchen.
There she was forced to do hard work; to rise early before daylight, to bring the water, to make the fire, to cook and to wash. Besides that, the sisters plagued her in all sorts of ways, and laughed at her. In the evening when she was tired, she had no bed to lie down on, but was made to lie by the hearth among the ashes; and as this, of course, made her always dusty and dirty, they called her Cinderella.
Now it happened that the king of that land held a feast, which was to last three days; and out of those who came to it his son was to choose a bride for himself. Cinderella's two sisters were asked to come...but her mother said, "It is all of no use, you cannot go; you have no clothes, and cannot dance, and you would only put us to shame": and off she went with her two daughters to the ball.
and she put them on, and followed her sisters to the feast. But they did not know her, and thought it must be some strange princess, she looked so fine and beautiful in her rich clothes;
and they never once thought of Cinderella, taking it for granted that she was safe at home in the dirt.
The king's son soon came up to her, and took her by the hand and danced with her, and no one else: and he never left her hand; but when anyone else came to ask her to dance, he said, "This lady is dancing with me."
Thus they danced till a late hour of the night; and then she wanted to go home: and the king's son said, "I shall go and take care of you to your home"; for he wanted to see where the beautiful maiden lived.
But she slipped away from him, unawares, and ran off towards home...though in such a hurry that she dropped her left golden slipper upon the stairs.
The prince took the shoe, and went the next day to the king his father, and said, "I will take for my wife the lady that this golden slipper fits." Then both the sisters were overjoyed to hear it; for they...had no doubt that they could wear the golden slipper.
And when he drew near and looked at her face he knew her, and said, "This is the right bride." But the mother and both the sisters were frightened, and turned pale with anger as he took Cinderella on his horse, and rode away with her. And when they came to the hazel-tree, the white dove sang:"Home! home! look at the shoe!
Believe it or not, the second edition of this fairy-tale included yet another graphic element that did not appear in the original: a particularly unpleasant comeuppance for the evil stepsisters:
When the wedding with the King's son had to be celebrated, the two false sisters came and wanted to get into favour with Cinderella and share her good fortune. When the betrothed couple went to church, the elder was at the right side and the younger at the left, and the pigeons pecked out one eye of each of them. Afterwards as they came back, the elder was at the left, and the younger at the right, and then the pigeons pecked out the other eye of each. And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.
We will discuss Alexandra's images in greater detail in a follow-up post, but for now, readers will surely marvel not only at Miss Newton's beauty (which has already been established), but at her narrative talent. She tells the story of this editorial in a completely convincing manner, yet the pictures never resemble mere still frames from a movie, but rather each image is a highly accomplished fashion photograph in its own right. Her poses and expressions are naturalistic and original.
|11th April 2011||#2|
Join Date: July 2005
Re: Cinderella: Alexandra Newton
Alexandra is so lovely -- a perfect Cinderella. How wonderful that she undertook a project like this on her own. Since print-magazine appearances for plus-size models remain rare, it's encouraging to see a full-figured model not letting this impediment prevent her from creating an editorial-like shoot. The photography is beautiful.
I particularly enjoy the fact that the envious stepsisters are skinny while Alexandra's Cinderella is curvier. To see a plus-size model triumphing over her thinner rivals is very satisfying -- as satisfying as the fairy-tale itself, which, after all, is about a heroine and her antagonists getting their just deserts. And there's no question that Alexandra would have been considered the most beautiful of the sisters in the time that the Grimm tales were published. She's gorgeous.
I love the effect with the full moon and the stars. I also think the shoot did something very creative by having Cinderella's benefactor, in a pink dress with wings, costumed in such a way that one could take her to be either a fairy godmother (in the Disney manner) or an enchanted bird (as in the Grimm version of the story).
But oh my goodness, the text does have a touch of horror, doesn't it? I did a little research and found that in the darkest versions, not only does the first stepsister cut off her toe to deceive the prince into thinking that she was the favourite at the ball, but the second stepsister cuts off her heel. The latter is only subtly alluded to in this text. I think the touches of darkness give the tale real credibility as a folk legend. It's a fascinating story, and Alexandra did a marvellous job retelling it via fashion imagery.
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