Every child loves dressing up and I have continued that love into my adult years, (one of very few adults to have a dressing up box…). Part of that love stems from the enjoyment I got as a child, wearing clothing I usually wouldn’t and becoming characters who expressed more coherently the quirky and slightly less ordinary personality traits I admired.
Alice from the well known story by Louise Carroll is a perfect example of an independent, strong headed and elegant character I admire from my childhood. The way she dresses for me was less of an influencing factor, but did teach me that you don’t need to dress like a boy to be strong. And the fact that her story isn’t one of princes and true loves kiss, (while I do love a bit of romance, I was more interested in adventure and secret hiding places at that age).
The V&A Museum of Childhood exhibition of The Alice Look, focused on Alice and how she has influenced and been influenced by fashion throughout the ages. I felt that this was a suitably interesting exhibition for a museum aimed at children, but think that it would be equally, if not more so, if it were in a more adult setting and indeed could include a wider breadth of study about her and her character. One of the first things you learn about Alice’s wardrobe, is that while we associate Alice as wearing and blue dress and white apron, this is not the original, second or third interpretation, but was brought in to reflect that fashions of the 50’s by Disney. In the original sketch is looks as if Alice is simply wearing a blouse and skirt. The first colour sketch of Alice by Sir John Tenniel shows that he dress was in fact yellow and the blue is only featured as ribbon to edge her apron. It is here were we also first see the Alice band.
It was also interesting to see how Alice’c outfits had been changed and adapted to suit each era, audience and a multitude of different cultures.
My favourite display piece, was the pair of vans made with Liberty print fabric, created especially for the 150th Anniversary of the story of Alice. I was even able to buy myself a fat quarter when I got home!
(You can still buy the fabric online, but it’s sold out from the Liberty website, I got mine here).
Over all it was interesting and well worth a visit, but I do hope that if they choose to put up a display like this again, they make it bigger and include more.