Alice in Wonderland jewellery, myth or magic?

Alice fever has gripped the jewellery world thanks to Tim Burton's Disney film Alice in Wonderland.

Juliet Hutton-Squire on why we should embrace this Hollywood trend.

By Juliet Hutton-Squire

Did you ever think that a bedtime story dating back to1862 would hold so much power and influence, not only on the silver screen raking in blockbuster figures in its opening weekend, but also on jewellery sales?

This epic 3D fantasy adventure has not only inspired jewellery collections that have adorned the world’s celebs (Avril Lavigne rocked the Red Queen bracelet by Tom Binns for Disney Couture at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Games); but also appeared top of the wish list of jewellery lovers, collectors and fashionistas. The Wonderland jewellery trend was also cited as a must-have by fashion blogs, weekly glossies and editorials. With the endorsement of names such as Swarovski, Binns and Stella McCartney, could we go far wrong?

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The impact of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is global. The windows of some of the most esteemed department stores in the fashion capitals of the world were given over to Alice mania. The Lexington Avenue windows of Bloomingdale’s flagship store in Manhattan were filled with Binns’ jewellery, modelled after the Red Queen, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat. There were Tea Party vignettes set up in the home department and movie props alongside designer Sue Wong’s Alice-themed cocktail dresses.

Printemps in Paris teamed up with nine influential designers, including the likes of Christopher Kane, Alexander McQueen and Martin Margiela, each tasked to adorn a mannequin inspired by the theme. La Durée further endorsed the Alice magic by installing a temporary Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on the ground floor and if this weren’t enough, the soundtrack from the Alice movie was piped onto the street from loud speakers.

Selfridges created the Wonder Room – a pop-up shop showcasing jewellery by Sho Fine Jewellery, Anna Lou of London, Tom Binns, Stella McCartney and Jessica de Lotz. Lavish tables bedecked with playing cards, oversized clocks, multi-tiered glass cake stands and fairytale-fantastic trinkets recreated a scene from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and caused many a passer by to stop and drink in the magic potion of Wonderland charm, even if just for a moment.

For the first time ever and only available online, Swarovski launched four, limited-edition pendants inspired by the famous Tea Party scene, which encapsulated the playfulness and imagination of the magical affair. Teapots and the Cheshire Cat form part of this collection as well as the Sparrow pendant which Swarovski created in collaboration with the film’s costume designer, Colleen Atwood. Mia Wasikowska, Alice’s character in the film, wears this exact pendant on set.

Pam Lifford, executive vice-president of global fashion and home for Disney Consumer Products says: “Disney fashion continues to be at the forefront of trends, drawing inspiration from such creative works of art as Alice in Wonderland and collaborating with top designers like Tom Binns keeps Disney and our characters relevant with tastemakers and serves up an aspirational halo effect with consumers and Disney fans of all ages. Tom Binns’ range is the first in a series of Alice-inspired fashion collaborations.”

The Tom Binns for Walt Disney signature line, one in a series of Alice-inspired fashion collaborations, launched in Spring 2010 to coincide with the movie debut. The collection comprised six, limited-edition over-the-top runway-style pieces, reflecting his much coveted design aesthetic. The pieces ranged from £500 to £1,000. Binn’s also launched a cheaper 35-piece line with pieces ranging from £50 to £250.

”It was a great project, working with a great director and a mega company like Disney which is not fashion,” says Binns when we meet up to discuss the project. “It was an imaginative project, and they gave me carte blanche.”

British fashion designer, Stella McCartney joined forces with Disney Couture to design a collection of Wonderland-inspired costume jewels. The magical themed collection included charm bracelets and necklaces inspired by the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter’s hat and the Queen of Hearts’ army. Cut-outs of the spade, club, heart and diamond filled the bracelet and were all made from Plexiglas and Swarovski crystals.

Anna Lou of London shows a banner on her homepage titled, “We love Alice in Wonderland”, showcasing a whopping 36 items based on the theme and she is not the only one.

Independent retailers have jumped on the bandwagon too. Lindsay Coulter, owner of UK-based online jewellery store Zentosa, stocks the widest range of Disney Couture jewellery. I catch up with her and ask about the impact of Alice in Wonderland on her jewellery sales for the quarter.

“The impact has been significant; sales for the last three weeks since we received the Alice Disney Couture stock have been fantastic,” Coulter says. “We are expanding very quickly. I would guess that Alice jewellery has contributed at least a 20 percent increase to our total sales.”

Alice in Wonderland jewellery trend: magic or myth? So, are you going to echo the words of the Queen of Hearts and say “off with her head” when it comes to embracing the impact of media on jewellery and dismiss it as a load of trend-driven gimmicky nonsense, or are you going to be like the inquiring Alice and embark on a whole new adventure making jewellery the hero, a valued commodity which can easily translate a narrative and express a theme in a media-dominated environment?

As a closing question during my interview with Tom Binns, I ask if he had a pearl of wisdom for the jewellery industry based on his experience, particularly with regards to this collaboration. He replies: “Always try and be your best creatively, try and be unique. This collaboration shows there are other avenues creatively to work in with your abilities beyond fashion.”

 

Juliet Hutton-Squire is editor of jewellery trends website Adorn London, www.adorn-london.com.

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