Annie Liebovitz And The Disney Princesses Part 2

Annie Liebovitz turns her extrordinary  talent to photographing the Disney Princesses and other Disney favourites.

Watch out for Russell Brand!



Tattooed and Pierced

What would happen if the Disney animators left their bubble of 1950’s inspired dresses and sensibilities and created Princesses that you might see hanging out in vintage clothing boutiques, fashion markets and listening to indie pub rock music? You know, your average young woman in 2011?

Well they might end up looking a bit like this…

Alice in Metalland


Still cheesey - nothing can fix that grin!

Cinderella rocks it in a Little Black Dress

Thoroughly Modern Mulan

Bent like Beckham

La Belle Goth

Ariel channeling her inner Pink-ness

One very cool rock chick

Images courtesy of Buzzfeed.

Princesses, Batman and Wedding Dresses

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

That’s all I have to say about these images of wedding gowns inspired by Disney Princesses and designed by Alfred Angelo.* It’s one thing to be a four year old pretending to be a Disney Princess, but a grown woman? On your wedding day? It really demonstrates the power of marketing and the exploitation of the ‘Princess Myth’. It’s promising more than just a dress, it’s comes with the implication that you are marrying your Prince Charming and you will live a life of Happy Ever After. Call me an old cynic, but I don’t think it works that way.

But before the wedding dresses, check out the little girl in this photo. that’s what I call bucking a trend!


'Princess Batgirl"


And now for the gowns –




Snow White




*credit where credit is due – I found these images at

Botox? No, just marry a Prince.

Miss E has some very definite views about Princesses.  She was quite insistent they couldn’t be mothers or if they were, only ever had 7 children (thank- you, Snow White). And now it seems she is of the very firm belief that not only do they not grow old, they never die. So cancel those Botox appointments and hold up on all that expensive medical research; the key to immortality and the fountain of youth is to marry a Prince or have the very good fortune of being born a Princess.

Princess Alice (centre) celebrating her 100th Birthday

But of course, life beyond the Disney Princess fantasy doesn’t work that way.We know that Princesses do indeed grow old, some gracefully, some not so gracefully. They are subject to the same misfortunes of life that we mere commoners are. Some marry well, some don’t. Some live to a ripe old age like, Princess Alice , Duchess of Gloucester who died just two months short of her 103rd birthday. Others are tragically killed when still young women. None more famously than Princess Diana at 36, and Princess Grace at 52 who  both died in car accidents.

The problem with the Disney princesses is that children think literally. Show them princesses who aren’t married, working, raising children or aging and they believe that’s what happens in reality. Cinderella had a wicked step-mother, but a kind Fairy God-Mother and so she married her Prince. Snow White was very pretty, lived with seven dwarves ate a poisoned apple and still got to marry her Prince.  The newer creations, like Rapunzel in Tangled have a bit more spunk and get up go, but the messages are still very mixed .  And don’t forget that Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel and Belle are all teenagers. Would you really want your daughter marrying the first ‘prince’ that came along when she was sixteen?

I don’t object to Fairy Tales, not at all. The tradition of the Fairy Tale is a long one that predates Disney and even The Brothers Grimm by at least a couple of hundred years. Many of the Fairy Tales were much darker and acted as cautionary tales rather than the bland, Happy Ever After Tales children, little girls in particular, are raised on now. The central message has become be good looking, marry a Prince and you’ll live Happy Ever After. And it’s not just aimed at little girls, either. When Kate Middleton married Prince William earlier this year, newspapers and women’s magazines almost invariably described it as a ‘Fairy Tale Wedding.’

So here are some  older women, who just happen to be Princesses.

Princess Elisabeth of Denmark

Princess Benedikte of Denmark

Princess Margriet of The Netherlands

Princess Ragnhild of Norway

Princess Astrid of Denmark

Princess Anne

You might also enjoy reading:-

The Princess Mummies

Re-imagining the Disney Princesses

If you’ve been reading The Princess Letters Project for a while, you’ll know I have fairly mixed feelings about the Disney Princesses. I’m not alone, L.A.-based illustrator and Microsoft Games Studio artist, Claire Hummel, has been doing some reinterpreting of  her own. Hummel has given the Disney Princesses a Trinny and Susannah-style wardrobe makeover bringing them right up to date. Well, up to date with a slightly more historically accurate dress-style.

The descriptions with each sketch are Claire Hummel’s.


‘It’s my happy middle ground when drawing a historical version of an inaccurate portrayal of a historical person.’


‘I went with the mid 1860’s for Cinderella’s dress, the transitory period where the large crinoline takes on a more elliptical shape and moves toward the back.’

Snow White

Snow White’s time period is pretty easy to pinpoint in 16th century Germany. Not that the film is accurate, but the clues are there – I took a wide swathe from 1500-1530 to come up with something that still maintained the spirit of the original design.’


The Little Mermaid is hard to place from a time period standpoint – Grimsby’s wearing a Georgian get up, Ariel’s pink dress with the slashed sleeves subscribes to several eras from the Renaissance to the 1840’s. Eric is…Eric.

I went with Ariel’s wedding dress as a starting point since those gigantic leg-o-mutton sleeves (so embarrassingly popular in the ’80’s wedding fashion) were a great starting point for an 1890’s evening gown.


Beauty and the Beast has always hovered in the 18th century (especially in the earlier concept art) so I redid Belle’s gold dress to 1770’s French court fashion.’  Think Marie Antoinette.


‘So Prince Phillip does specifically and emphatically say ‘This is the 14th century!’ at some point during the film [Sleeping Beauty], but Phillip’s an idiot (a handsome, handsome idiot) and I, never afraid to ignore source material, ignored him.

Oddly enough, Phillip’s clothing is a better point of reference than Aurora’s (since the hourglass, off-the-shoulder cut of her dress is straight out of the 1950’s) and there are more examples of his get up from the 1460’s onwards than in the 14th century. I went with my gut and ended up with something around 1485 – a little later than one might expect, but it’s such a (beautifully) stylised film, all bets are off.’


‘Let’s be frank – Aladdin is hardly an exercise in historical accuracy… it took some effort to track down some midriff baring outfits BUT BY GEORGE I DID! Thank-you Persian fashion plates.

You might also like this –

Snow White and her Seven 'Children'

Images from Flavorwire.

Reclaiming ‘Princess’

This is not a Princess

Princesses have been given a bad rap.

Little girls who are spoilt, precious, precocious, you know the ones, they’re labelled ‘princesses’. ‘Daddy’s little princess’,  ‘She’s such a princess’. It’s not a compliment.

I don’t want to blame everything on Disney Princesses, not when there’s so much other marketing, merchandising and media that has gone into creating the myth of the Princess, but for many little girls that’s where it starts. And it’s very hard to find products for little girls that don’t buy into the myth.

So in the spirit of gays reclaiming ‘queer’ and Afro-Americans reclaiming ‘nigger’, I’m reclaiming ‘princess’.

Here’s what I’ve discovered since I began this project.* Princesses are usually very well-educated and have often been high achievers, professionally, in their own right. Their official duties as a Princess are really quite extraordinary. Princess Anne, for example, had over 500 official engagements last year. They support charities and foundations across a very broad range of fields, but many are actively supporting furthering education for girls and young women. They support the arts, disadvantaged children, health programmes and micro-finance. Many officially represent the United Nations.

They juggle their official duties with raising children of their own and do so under the burden of public expectation about their looks, wardrobe, personal life and public demeanour. Their lives are the property of the state they represent. And they get letters with glittery stickers and lots of questions from a 4yo who lives in Australia.

Sure they have advantages that your normal working mother can only dream of. Staff,  live-in childcare, comfortable, affluent lifestyles, no worries about rising interest rates because the palace was paid for a few hundred years ago. But at the end of the day, they are working mothers, working women.

I’ve learnt a lot about the individual Princesses and have certainly developed a healthy respect for them (even if they don’t all answer the questions of  a 4yo). This project has created a picture of women who are individuals beyond the title ‘Princess’. And whilst I admit that most of that has gone over Miss E’s head, it has helped her form a picture of a Princess that is more than just Cinderella, Belle and Sleeping Beauty.

So, if your daughter is Princess besotted, let her enjoy the glitter and the frou-frou, it’s part of the magic of childhood. But perhaps you could buy a $10 chicken from Oxfam or sponsor a child through World Vision and explain that Princesses help those less fortunate than themselves.  And of course, introduce her to the Princesses on this blog!

*Things I know Friday – it’s harder than it looks being a Princess.

Doctor? Lawyer? No thanks – Princess

My four year old, Miss E, is obsessed with Princesses. In fact, she’s going to be a Princess when she grows up and live a life of Disney Happy Ever After. I suggested that perhaps having a job would be a good idea and she put some thought into this for a long time (approximately three minutes)  and decided that her job before she got married (to a Prince) would be ‘putting on her wedding dress’. Excellent. How had I managed to create a little girl whose life is a pink tinged world of Princesses?

And just when I thought she couldn’t get any more obsessed there was the Royal Wedding, a real live girl with flowing hair married her Prince ( not so lucky in the flowing hair department) and it all made perfect sense to Miss E. Here was Belle, Cinderella, Snow White  and Ariel on the TV and in the newspapers, Catherine Middleton proved that growing up and being a Princess was a totally reasonable and achievable career option.

So I decided it was time to make a stand. With Miss E’s help and her friends at Pre-School, we made up a list of questions for real live Princesses and have sent them out. So, now we’re waiting to hear back and find out how real live Princesses live and work.


All text and artwork are the property of Jennifer Smart.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 466 other followers

%d bloggers like this: