Alice in process…

Instead of the question “Who is Alice?” there are now paths leading to what Alice might come to be…

23 Mar 2015

Alice in Wonderland: The making of a style icon

Fot: Annie Leibovitz. John Galliano (the Queen of Hearts)

Kiera Vaclavik
The Independent, monday 23 march 2015.

"Gianni Versace compared himself to her, many of the world's most beautiful women have been photographed as her, and the great and the good of the fashion world have lined up to dress her. Alice in Wonderland may be 150 but her style seems to be eternal. 

In 2003, Annie Leibovitz shot the American Vogue Christmas photo essay, for which the likes of Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gaultier produced a new dress for Alice. There was just one stipulation: it had to be blue. 

Fast-forward 10 years to another Christmas, and couture Alice had gone mainstream. In 2013, the cornerstone of the British high street, Marks & Spencer, unveiled an opulent feature film-esque TV ad, with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Alice entering an urban rabbit hole, shedding her surface world clothes as she hurtles down into wonderland (revealing more than a glimpse of RHW's lingerie range for M&S in the process), only to land smack in the middle of a tea party presided over by mad hatter male model, David Gandy. 

 M&S's simple blue "Alice" party dress quickly sold out (and was particularly popular with older ladies, judging by the online comments posted by shoppers). As one promotional Disney video of 2010 proclaimed in insistent and repeated upper case: ALICE IS THE NEW BLACK. 

 It was Carroll himself who first styled Alice, in the manuscript which he offered to his friend Alice Liddell as a Christmas gift in 1864. In these drawings, Alice undergoes a series of costume changes – probably as a result of Carroll's untrained draughtmanship: necklines constantly shift, sleeves shrink and grow, seams, tucks and collars appear and disappear. Such problems were ironed out when Sir John Tenniel, the illustrious Punch cartoonist, took over the reins for the first published edition of 1865. Still widely known today, these illustrations contributed enormously to the initial success of the text. Alice is shown consistently as a smartly but not too fussily dressed Victorian child. The pinafore which Tenniel adds – and is such an important part of our own conceptualisation of Alice today – suggests a certain readiness for action and lack of ceremony. (…)"


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