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A Photo Tour of Disney’s Cinderella: The Exhibition

November 24, 2014

By John Corrado


Back on October 22nd, I had the opportunity to visit Disney’s Cinderella: The Exhibition, an amazing collection of costumes and props from their upcoming live action fairy tale, elaborately set up for two days at CBC headquarters and open only to exhibitors and members of the media.

Although bursting to talk about what I saw, I’ve been under tight embargo since then.  But with the official trailer released last week, the embargo has finally lifted today.  The touring exhibit gave me an early taste of what to expect when director Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella opens in theatres on March 13th.

And the film looks quite lovely.  Being able to see the richly designed sets and original props up close, as well as the gorgeously detailed costumes by Oscar-winning designer Sandy Powell, was like seeing Disney’s beloved 1950 animated classic come to life.  I also got a chance to watch a few brief clips and an extended trailer for the film, which were playing on screens throughout to transition us between the different sets, and the footage looks very promising.

The tour started with artwork and merchandise from the original film, and culminated with a collection of products that will be on shelves this spring.  Between these two different examples of the enduring Disney brand, we were taken through the sweeping entrance way and cold cellar that make up Cinderella’s house, giving way to the nicely atmospheric garden and the spectacular ballroom that will be seen in the film.  Connecting the two halves of the exhibit was a giant pumpkin adorned with glowing lights that we literally walked through to find a shiny gold carriage on the other side, ingeniously connected by a mirrored wall.

This was one of my favourite little touches in an exhibit filled with tons of cool details to absorb.  I enjoyed the whole thing so much that after the formal tour, I asked to go through a second time, which the publicists kindly obliged.  Although outside photo and video was strictly prohibited, they had a professional photographer on hand, and below I have included ninety official photos spread over six slideshows, along with some descriptions and trivia for each section of the exhibit.  Enjoy!

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Heritage Gallery

• This gallery showcases original never before seen artwork from the Disney Archive.

• A number of artists were part of the making of the film, however much of the artwork is unable to be attributed to a particular artist as their work was not consistently documented at the time.

• Mary Blair was credited with colour styling on Cinderella.  Seven of her visual development images are included in the exhibit.

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Entrance Hall

• In the entrance hall of Ella’s stately home, you meet Ella’s sometimes cruel Stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), whom Ella’s father remarries many years after her mother passes.  Lady Tremaine’s costumes are luxurious and extravagant.  Green is the most prominent colour that features in her outfits, emulating the envy that she has for Ella’s charm, grace and beauty – qualities her and her daughter’s possess little of.

• Meet Ella’s often mean-tempered stepsister’s Anastasia (Holliday Grainger), an empty-headed narcissist, and Drisella (Sophia McShera), a bratty know it allNotice the detail on their arrival dresses – the flowers have been hand painted and a process called flocking has been used to create different textures on the surface of the material.

• You’ll also notice a wealth of significant props in the entrance hall; Lady Tremaine’s harp, the step family’s arrival luggage and Ella’s childhood toys including the butterfly toy, her favourite toy from childhood given to her by her devoted and loving father.

• All props were created in the UK at Pinewood Studios, where the movie was filmed.

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The Cellar

• Ella spends a lot of her time in the cellar, which is cold, dark and damp with only the hearth of the fire to stay warm.  Having always befriended animals from a young age, Ella’s closest companions are the house mice which live in the cellar and whom she cares for as tiny members of the family.

• Ella spends her days hard at work cleaning her once beautiful home.  Seeing her clothes turn to rags and all of her family’s precious possessions wasted, Ella could quite easily give up, but her mother’s words “have courage and be kind” stay with her, especially during the worst of times and she knows that where there is goodness there is happiness which always gives her hope.

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The Garden

• On the night of the Prince’s Royal Ball, Ella wears her mother’s wedding dress, which she has lovingly restored, however her stepmother maliciously rips her gown resorting her to tears and with nothing to wear.

• A beggar woman appears in the garden and transforms into her Fairy Godmother to help her in her time of need. The Fairy Godmother’s costume is adorned with 10,000 crystals and was illuminated with lights during filming.  She is an enchanting and spirited force who makes Ella’s dreams come true by magically turning a giant pumpkin into a beautiful carriage, a lizard and a goose into the coach drivers and Ella’s torn dress into a spectacular gown.

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The Ballroom

• Unrecognizable wearing an entrancing gown adorned with butterflies, 10,000 Swarovski crystals, 3 miles of fabric and 24 layers, Cinderella immediately catches the Prince’s eye.

• The Prince (nicknamed Kit) is a gallant young man, and drawn to the exquisite stranger’s grace and charm.  The Prince is played by Richard Madden.

• Alongside the Prince is his father, the King (Derek Jacobi), who hope’s his son will meet a Princess who he shall one day marry to bring peace throughout the kingdom.

• The King’s royal advisor, the Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgård) stands beside him offering his guidance, although a little tainted and narrow-minded as he is ultimately trying to improve his own status.

• And the Captain (Nonso Anozie), the most close and loyal friend to the Prince who has his best interests at heart.

• Lady Tremaine and her daughters look on as the Prince dances all evening with the mysterious girl, who they do not recognize as Ella.

• A group of international Princesses from Spain, India, China, Japan and Africa are all there to meet the Prince, however he is so mesmerized with the beautiful stranger that he only has eyes for her.

• The beautiful costumes were designed by three-time Academy Award winner Sandy Powell.

• The intricate hair design we see on all of the mannequins were designed and crafted by Carol Hemming.

• At the stroke of midnight, Ella flees the ball losing one of her beautiful glass slippers in the process, the only clue the Prince has to finding his true love.

• The Swarovski slipper was made especially for the film.

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Modern Day Princess Gallery

• We present a stunning shot of Lily James as Cinderella fleeing from the Ball, taken by globally renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

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