The Lewis Carroll storybook is getting a new life this year in the form of books, television, theater, fashion, home goods, video games and even celebrity birthday parties. If you haven’t already you’ll soon be seeing Wonderland references both high and lowbrow, obvious and subtle. Shortly after the New Year, a new graphic novel by Rod Espinosa was published, while at the same time two networks, NBC and the CW, were pondering pilots with Wonderland themes.
Hollywood is so messy I can’t tell if the NBC pilot is still in development or if it is now the one that ABC has since green-lighted, and for which casting was announced this week, sealing the deal on a small-screen Wonderland influence courtesy of the same team (and hopefully high production budget) that brought us the hit fairytale show “Once Upon a Time”. The CW pilot seems to have gone away.
It seems we love fantasy in this country at this moment – whether it is of the vampire/zombie or the Mad Hatter/Red Queen variety, Americans seem to want to escape into the tall tales of their childhoods. Some apparently prefer a hybrid, as in the recently released novel for tweens “Alice in Zombieland”.
It may start with pop culture, but the design world is following suit. I wouldn’t be surprised if this year heralded a resurgence in interest in whimsical home brand MacKenzie-Childs, but consumers will surely, as ever, be flocking to Anthropologie, a brand that is always somehow true to itself yet first-on-the-trend. (How do they do that?) Have a look at their current “Tale of the Table” tabletop collections, and do watch the video.
If you were fortunate enough to attend DIFFA’s Dining by Design in New York this past week, you’ll surely have spotted the fanciful and sophisticated table-scape by interior designer Rachel Laxer with furnishings by the brilliant Robert Kuo. Kuo’s copper repoussé tree-trunk dining set and life-sized plastic sheep sculptures were situated in a darkly dreamy, moss-strewn jewel box whose backdrop was an enlarged reproduction of an ethereal and haunting painting by artist Ray Caesar. In it, a Marie Antoinette type character is tumbling midair, shoes akimbo having just slipped off of a gilt and red velvet swing. This is hardly full-on Alice whimsy. It feels darker and more brooding and full of classical art references thanks to Titian-esque lighting and the sumptuous, shadowy Dutch Master’s floral arrangement. Some have interpreted Rachel’s scene as an homage to Fragonard but for me, one glance and I was certain that tumbling, corseted blonde girl would land somewhere in between a leering cheshire cat and a bats**t crazy rabbit.
The corseted napkin holder that Rachel so cleverly included brings me to what is happening in fashion wonderland. Fall 2013 brings us plenty of corseted dresses and playing-card-red coats. This black leather corseted dress with accents of fluffy white fur suggests that next-big-thing fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra has indeed been out chasing rabbits.
Bloomberg reports that department stores are boosting denim sales this year by offering the ubiquitous fabric in new shapes including Wonderland-worthy corsets, pinafores and circle skirts. And of course it doesn’t get much more Wonder-lusty than Alexander McQueen. Either of these frocks from the House’s current Spring collection would be right at home at the Mad Hatter’s tea:
I predict this trend will last a while. Aside from the upcoming ABC pilot, a new play, “Peter & Alice” by John Logan has just opened this week at the Noel Coward Theater in London’s West End. It stars the venerable Judy Dench as Alice Liddel Hargreaves on whom Carroll based his Alice character. The charming Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, The Hour) co-stars with Dench as Peter Llewelyn Davies, the boy who provided J.M. Barrie with the real life inspiration for the character of Peter Pan. The play is about how these characters seemed to follow the two throughout their lives. It is quite the buzz in London so I can’t help wondering how long until “Peter & Alice” might come to Broadway, or perhaps eventually even to a movie theater near you.
If you’re not convinced that there’s a trend, allow me to put way too fine a point on it. This is a list of celebrities, celebutantes and celebu-types who have held star-studded and elaborately themed Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea parties for their birthdays during March of 2013:
March 4th – Paris Hilton’s 32nd birthday with L’il Wayne, among others
March 24th – Perez Hilton’s 34th birthday with Kim Kardashian (rocking a fascinator), among others
March 28th – Lady Gaga’s 27th birthday with Vampire Diaries’ star boyfriend Taylor Kinney among others
This is my first trend story of 2013. Don’t miss my TREND/OBSESSION Pinterest board illustrating this trend. Look for more trends here throughout the year. Let me know what you think of the Wonder-trend, and how you’re picking up on it in your world or with your brand strategy!
Photos in this post courtesy of: perezhilton.com, telegraphuk, Rachel Laxer, Images & Details, quintessence.coom , millionlooks.com, fabsugar.com, anthropologie.com and my new favorite online read, pastemagazine.com