Fads may come and go, but classics last forever. Even though they are frequently dismissed as children’s fare, fairy tales never disappear. Disney is unapologetically one of America’s largest companies — their Mickey-gloved hand is in movies, theme parks, hotels, fashions, and collectibles. Disney also dominates movie box offices and family’s toy boxes. The two go together, like Cinderella and a pumpkin carriage or Snow White and a poison apple. In fact, Hasbro has just released a new version of some royal favorites called the Disney Princess Style Series. The new dolls are contemporary, yet classic. They play with their pedigree, but with a twist. These dolls are perfectly timed for holiday shopping and are attractively priced at $24.99.
The Disney Princess Style Series is a nod to the enduring legacy of these beloved figures. It’s hard to believe, but the Little Mermaid franchise began 30 years ago. Though difficult to fathom, there are indeed people who have never lived in this world without Ariel and Prince Eric. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is as much a part of their lives as air, water, and sunshine. She has always existed for them, and will likely continue to do so in new versions.
This year, in fact, Disney premiered a live TV spectacle that combined the animated film with real-life performers singing and dancing to the soundtrack. Who portrayed the redheaded, fair-skinned mermaid? A young singer of Hawaiian descent, Auli’i Cravalho, donned the red wig and belted her heart out. Cravalho was the voice of Disney’s wildly successful Moana character, so she was familiar with the brand’s demands. She was appropriately dewy-eyed, fresh-faced, young, and headstrong. This live production of the Little Mermaid’s storyline was multicultural and diverse. It honored the story’s spirit without following the traditional script. Its embracing of differences beautifully reflects Hasbro’s Disney Princess Style Series.
It’s a new generation of people who are absorbing the movies. Heck, I can’t even say they are watching the DVDs or viewing them on cable. With Disney’s own streaming service just launched, families will be programming their own Disney nights from the archived material. The ever-popular princesses will become even more important to young children, who are in charge of their streaming choices. Looking to create brand-new content, but tying it to the “tried and true,” executives will revisit old favorites. These classics will be repackaged and rebooted. It’s like a green initiative for entertainment: old titles will be recycled and repurposed. The Disney Princesses are the best test cases for re-imagining. Solid in their personalities (Belle is bookish, Mulan is brave, Ariel is curious), they can jump into different dimensions. These princesses can become the fodder for other live-action shows, prequels, musicals, and every imaginable form of content.
The Disney Princess Style Series gives us a glimpse of what these characters would look like if they exited their fairy-tale kingdoms. The Hasbro dolls are clad in their familiar costuming colors, but the final appearance is modern and not cartoonish. Belle wears her recognizable golden-and-yellow garb, but it’s not a gown. Rather, the studious heroine trades in a full-length dress for a more youthful tea-length outfit. The dress features a cinched bodice and a three-tiered skirt with sparkly rose detailing. Because the magical rose factors so heavily in “Beauty and the Beast,” the Disney Princess Style Series doll mirrors this. Her purse is rose-shaped and her necklace features rose designs, too.
The designers wanted to translate the ballroom scene into something more modern. As a result, they envisioned Belle getting ready for a red-carpet event. Their mission was to honor her rose motif, combined with a complementary color palette of high-shine gold and rose accents. I believe they really achieved their goal.
Likewise, Mulan is a character that is synonymous with strength, fearlessness, boldness, risk-taking, and family honor. Just like “Beauty and the Beast” became a live-action film, the cartoon “Mulan” is prepped to hit the big screens, too. Mulan is a fascinating heroine because she spends the majority of her tale dressed as a boy after she enlists in the Chinese Emperor’s army to spare her frail father from risking his life. We see even before she makes this impetuous decision that Mulan is not like the other girls. She doesn’t desire marriage, detests makeup, and is a matchmaker’s nightmare.
Still, like all the other Disney Princesses, Mulan is naturally beautiful. She doesn’t need to be coiffed and slathered with cosmetics. She shines from within. The Disney Princess Style Series focuses on the outfit that Mulan is forced to wear when she meets her village’s marriage broker. As she and her father share a tender moment, blossoms fall around them and scatter in the wind. The fragility of flowers, combined with their ability to endure and bring hope, is the guiding motif of this outfit. The Hasbro doll is adorned with floral themes and accessories.
The Disney Princess Style Series outfit is chockfull of blossoms. The palette of her dress and accessories is a blend of raspberry red, lavender, pink, and gold with navy blue accents. Mulan’s purse is shaped like a fan, harkening back to the matchmaking movie scene. Her headband is embellished with a flower. Bringing her into the 21st century, the Hasbro production team has shortened her dress to above the knee. It is given a touch of unexpected elegance via its sheer, sparkly, floor-length overlay.
Finally, Ariel rounds out the third new doll in the Disney Princess Style Series. Everyone’s favorite little mermaid trades in her bikini top and tail for very contemporary evening wear. Since the mermaid is an underwater princess, her attire plays on the hues of royalty (purple) and the ocean (sea foam green). Her ensemble is a two-piece outfit: a pearl-encrusted bodice and a sweeping skirt. The purple skirt is accented with a starfish and pearl-printed teal overlay.
Naturally, Ariel’s costuming continues this under-the-sea them from head to toe. The Disney Princess Style Series pays attention to every detail — nothing is too minute to ignore. Ariel’s purse is shaped like a seashell, and her headband boasts a pearly seashell as well. Each and every doll in the Disney Princess Style Series is a welcome, new version of a childhood favorite. For parents and grandparents, it is a revisit to a loved, nostalgic treasure. For today’s children, it is a chance to see these classic characters in a new, more fashion-forward light.