Being the history geek that I am, I guess it is kind of surprising that I haven't really done a "historically accurate" animation series before, but after seeing that awesome Buzzfeed Disney Princess video, and of course all the amazing art on here, I was inspired to make my own. I guess it is better late than never!
As I've said before elsewhere, from an artistic standpoint, I'm not at all bothered by the animated designs of the characters in Disney and Dreamworks films. They weren't documentaries after all so in most cases they didn't need to be accurate, and in animation in particular, it is more important to convey character and style in the designs. I am not trying to "fix" anything because I don't think there is anything to fix! That being said, it can still be fun to learn how your favorite characters might have looked if they had existed in real life.
For my series, I am trying to be as accurate as I possibly can. I'm taking the country of origin, the social class, the culture, and the specific decade into mind (instead of just a general sweep of multiple decades), and also adapting the colors and styles to fit what was available and worn everyday. I will try to keep the characters recognizable where I can, but I want to make my pictures realistic and so some elements of the original designs might be altered in the process.
Ok…so I know I said Moana was going to be the last one in the series, but after I concluded my Historically Accurate line I began to regret omitting Snow White, since she was after all in the very first Disney movie. When I rewatched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs again recently and realized how terrific the art was, that made it even worse! So I thought it might be fun to post the newest Disney Princess alongside the oldest Disney Princess, and see just how much things have changed in the meanwhile!
After watching the movie I decided to take my inspiration from the art of the German Renaissance in the early 16th century – I disliked the “Tudor” interpretation in the Buzzfeed clip because the movie definitely has a more medieval/fairytale appearance, resembling the artwork by Cranach and Albrecht Durer. However, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to represent Snow White in lower-class clothing rather than the wealthy fashion she would wear as a princess. Since the Queen forces Snow White to work as a maid I think it would be very unlikely Snow would have an elaborate Cranach gown in her wardrobe, even for her day out of the castle.
I was especially glad to find this depiction of a maid in Cranach’s triptych of The Holy Kinship as a starting point – her dress already looked a lot like a period version of Snow White’s! I referenced additional pictures for variations on the puffed sleeves and the pointed “gollar” that is worn as a cape around her shoulders. I designed her shoes based on the ones in this image. Also, instead of the lace-front bodice I opted for a striped bodice typical of German commonwomen style – it’s usually called a “kampfrau” dress in the reenacting community because it was often worn by female camp followers in the military. One thing I want to point out is that the VAST majority of these dresses were made from a single color, rather than the multicolor dress Snow White wears. However, I did find these two pictures that suggested there were exceptions, so I assumed Snow White had the same sense of style as these ladies and just went with a colorblocked theme.
Finally, I happened to luck out with a period hairstyle that would suit Snow White’s “hair as dark as night” – many girls and women, including working-class ones, wore their braids looped across the top of their head, and some of them even decorated the style with a ribbon headband! Her “skin as white as snow” would probably be compromised a bit by doing hard work outside in the sun, unless she decided to use some wheat flour to powder her face like other lower-class women - and her rosy lips could always be assisted by beeswax, too.
I have to say I'm pretty pleased with Snow White's results...I would never have guessed that German Renaissance clothing could come so close to a 1930s design!