Central Booking — Christian Lacroix And The Tale of Sleeping Beauty
As far as fairy tales go, there was always a particularly enchanting charm to Sleeping Beauty — maybe it was the century-old snooze, unsealed by that fateful kiss, or the way fairies’ magic, the twirl of their glistening wands, seemed to rule the activities of the kingdom. Author Camilla Morton explores the glamorous, lyrical, fanciful qualities of the age-old tale in Christian Lacroix and the Tale of Sleeping Beauty: A Fashion Fairy Tale Memoir, a remixed version of the story featuring illustrations by Christian Lacroix himself.
Structurally, Morton’s version is fairly loyal to the original tale’s premise. A vindictive fairy still casts an evil spell on a beautiful, newborn princess during her Christening celebration, condemning her to die at the age of sixteen upon being pricked by a needle. And again here, a benevolent fairy manages to dilute the spell so that the princess would no longer die should a pinprick loom in her future but, rather, be thrust into a century-long sleep that would conclude with a spell-breaking kiss. The differences, then, lie in the clever and cheeky way in which Morton incorporates fashion world references.
In Morton’s version, for example, the evil fairy isn’t dubbed Maleficent but Fairy of Seasons Past (crotchety because of her outdated wares, perhaps?), and the reason why she hands the newborn princess a death sentence is her fury over being relegated to sub-par seats at the Christening celebration rather than ushered to a place in the front row. This clever twist, then, serves as a way for Morton to scoff at the childish and overly sensitive egos of the fashion editors and writers attending fashion shows, the way in which they obsess over what their seats say about their standing in the industry. It’s the perfect twist to a fashion fairy tale, one that adds humor at the most unexpected of moments.
The bright-eyed fairy who steps in to weaken the Fairy of Season’s Past curse, meanwhile, is dubbed Little Fairy Sequins — needless to say, her wings, the bodice of her dress, and her full skirt are all embroidered with a midnight sky’s worth of twinkling stars, adding sparkle to an otherwise dismal fashion fête.
But there’s a unique twist to Morton’s fashion fairy tale: cast as the leading man of this tale, a young Lacroix blossoms from a little explorer boy perpetually clutching colored pencils with which he draws paper dolls and outlandish outfits into a runway titan, redefining Parisian haute couture with his theatrical, Renaissance-influenced designs. His creative output and his professional trajectory (all plucked from Lacroix’s real-life accomplishments) unravel inside the clear snow globe Little Fairy Sequins gifted to princess Beauty at her Christening ceremony. Beauty, then, can literally peer into her snow globe and observe Lacroix at work, so that the magical token creates an invisible thread between the two strangers. Lacroix, meanwhile, finds himself sketching the same woman over and over, a lovely creature who, unbeknown to him, closely resembles the young princess.
Prose aside, this delightful book is a collector’s item simply because of the brilliance of Lacroix’s illustrations (some of which are shown here), many of which feature a collage-like style, as if the works of Renaissance, Cubist, and Surrealist painters had all been fused together, then sprinkled with cut-out fabric patterns, snipped magazine pictures, and black-and-white reproductions of famous landmarks. Perhaps the most memorable visuals surface toward the end of the tale, as Lacroix works his way through a dense maze of thorny roses, coming upon a camouflaged wall with hand-painted rose blossoms in shades of white, blush pink, light peach, and warm mauve, eventually awakening Beauty, who arises in a breathtaking gown designed by Lacroix himself, a floor-length, chartreuse and forest green frock with a high color, tiered skirt, and an extravagant train worthy of a royal.
Check out more of Lacroix’s original illustrations after the jump!