Modern Fairy Tales Part 2: Beauty and the Beast

 In Features

While researching modern interpretations of the classic fairy tales, I found Vogue magazine’s April 2005 centerfold shot by photographer Annie Leibovitz. This spread is the perfect modern expression of “Beauty and the Beast”. The centerfold consists of six different shots all centered around the Beauty, modeled by Drew Barrymore, and her relationship with the beast throughout the story. The first picture features Beauty standing among a big rose bush with the inscription on the page: “A Thorny Problem: 
Beauty finds herself captive in the Beast’s palace when she selflessly offers herself up to save her father from the Beast’s almighty wrath. [Her father’s crime: picking a rose for his daughter from the Beast’s garden.]” The interesting thing about this picture is that in the story of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty does not go to the rose bush, her father does. But, it appears to be more dramatic for her to be at the rose garden.

The second photo features Beauty at the dinner table with the Beast. The inscription states: “A Feast for the Eyes:
 Every night, the Beast proposed marriage to Beauty, but she refused him again and again.” Beauty is standing and not eating in this picture while the Beast is sitting at the table. He also is sitting upright and has the body of a man with the head of a lion. He is dressed in a elegant style of clothing with his gold vest and navy jacket and pant suit.

The third photo features Beauty dressed in a white gown with large earrings being played for by a string quartet. This illustrates the elegance that she is living in and all of the things that the Beast is willing to do for her. The photo states: “A Haunting Melody
: The Beast adorned Beauty with the finest robes and jewels.”  The story obviously does not state that she is given a musical show by a quartet but it shows that our culture views an orchestra to be the epitamy of elegance and Beauty to be most taken care of by the Beast if she was given such a show every day.

The next photo shows Beauty laying on her bed and looking into a mirror. It states, “Through the Looking Glass
: “It’s quite a shame that the Beast is so ugly,” sighed Beauty, “for he is so good.” This brings up the functionality of the mirror that was also present in Snow White. She is looking inward at what has been placed into her growing up. The thought that a man must be attractive in order to marry has been placed into her head. She knows that she would marry him because he is good but he does not have the looks necessary for her to marry.

The next photo is of Beauty riding home on a black horse. It states: “A Dark Horse
: She wouldn’t leave the gentle Beast alone long.” This brings in the scenery reminiscent of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast where Beauty rode home on a horse.

The last photo is of Beauty leaning on the Beast who is now a full blown lion. The inscription states: Midnight in the Garden
: “I thought I felt only friendship toward you,” cried Beauty, “but I see that I love you.” She is once again in the garden and unlike the previous photo of the Beast at dinner, he is all animal, not half human-half animal.

This layout proves that, like many other fairy tales, fashion designers are able to use common fairy tales that the audience has grown up with and reinvent them to a fashion spread to reconnect with the audience. Beauty must be dressed in the finest couture and look longingly in all of the photos because she is of the highest society now because of the beast.

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