Fairy tales often include descriptions of clothing, such as magical shoes, magnificent dresses, and concealing cloaks. These garments can hold great meaning, representing a character’s power, vanity, greed, or transformation. While the importance of Cinderella’s glass slipper is widely known, it is but one of numerous references to clothing in fairy tales.

Fairy Tale Fashion attempts to bridge the gap between the significance of dress within fairy tales and the use of the term “fairy tale” in fashion journalism and photography. Not all of the designs featured were inspired directly by the stories they represent, but they can be easily linked to the stories’ texts. This imaginative approach is influenced by the countless creative ways that fairy tales have been illustrated over time, as artists often must rely on limited descriptions to depict their characters.

Since fairy tales are rarely set in a specific place or time period, the exhibition includes clothing and accessories that date from the 18th century to the present, with particular emphasis on extraordinary 21st-century creations. In the midst of a global, technologically driven fashion industry, there remains a desire—perhaps even a need—for designs that value fantasy over function.