Monday, 23 April 2007
I couldn't put it off any longer. Cinderella. If you're male, skip this posting. You won't get it. It's a girl thing.
This is the most popular Ladybird Book of all time, by miles, according to the long-standing poll on my website. There are thousands of different versions of Cinderella in the world. (Didn't someone once say, "There are only 7 stories in the world - and 6 of them are Cinderella?) And there were 4 different Ladybird Book versions of the story issued between the 1950s and the 1980s. But this one is the definitive oeuvre - this is the book that shaped a generation of girls' ideas of beauty and the posh frock. You see, Cinderella went to three different balls in this version and had three different dream dresses. It was like a magical precursor to "What Not To Wear". Yes, Cinderella gets the prince in the end - but she also gets a whole new wardrobe. Love and shopping - irresistable - like the "Rodeo Drive" scene on Pretty Woman (one of the 6 stories in the world).
Just about every British woman now aged between 35 and 50 will remember those three glorious frocks - and will have strong opinions about which was the dream dress - the subconscious yard-stick for the wedding-dress decades later. You were either a 'pink-silk-and-rosebuds girl', a 'blue-statin-and-net' girl or a 'white-gold-gauze' girl. Personally, I was pink-silk.
Here we meet Cinderella before the great make-over. How tastes change! This picture seemed all that was subtle, poignant and understated to my young eyes. I remember studying this picture and then asking my mother why the painting of the Mona Lisa was so famous and this picture wasn't. I remember my mother failed to give me an answer that I considered satisfactory.