Skip to content

Contes de Fées (Fairy Tales)

Start Date 07 April 2018
End Date 04 November 2018
Venue Centre National du Costume de Scene
Location Moulins, France
Curator Martine Kahane, Alain Batifoulier and Simon De Tovar
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
For the first time, kings, queens, princes and princesses, legendary elves, sleeping beauties, carabossi fairies, magical creatures or hook-nosed witches, leave their castles, dens and enchanted woods and deliver their finest pageantry with a wave of a magic wand , the visitor is transported along a magical and colorful journey punctuated by 150 costumes, accessories, images and videos from the collections of the CNCS but also from the funds of the Opéra de Vienne, Bordeaux, Paris, or even Geneva…
Sparkling dresses, vaporous tulles, twirling feathers, flamboyant jackets and magical hats illustrate how over the centuries, costume designers, choreographers, filmmakers and visual artists have interpreted the legendary characters straight out of the imagination of the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Madame d’Aulnoy and Madame de Beaumont. From the first room, the tone is set. A wave of the magic wand and the visitor finds himself in the midst of witches and fairies. The world of magic is all in opposition: human beings and fantastic creatures, good and bad, fairies and witches… It is the occasion for the costume designers to indulge in all the fantasies. The feathers, jewels and tulle of the tutus in pastel tones rub shoulders with long dresses and doublets in dark shades, black, purple or dark red.The exhibition trail then gives pride of place to several tales and takes the visitor to the heart of a fantastic story. At each window, a tale  – From Cinderella to Hansel and Gretel via Snow White and Riquet to the tassel – and its famous characters: Belles (in the sleeping wood or in love with a Beast), fairies (Carabosse and Lilac in Sleeping Beauty , godmother in Donkey skin) of kings, queens, princes, princesses (The Little Prince , The Prince of Motordu or the Prince of nuts in The Nutcracker), magical creatures (The Witch Nibbles and the Merchants of Sand and Dew in Hansel and Gretel , fairy creatures in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) but also animals (the rats of the Nutcracker , the fox of the Little Prince , the caterpillar of Alice in Wonderland).

Finally, a special place is reserved for accessories which play a major role in fairy tales and are placed in the rank of symbols: magic wand, mirror, apple, shoe, seven-league boots, grimoire, magic sword, rose, stopper rod, spinning wheel…

Each room presents a dozen costumes alongside models, films, photos and sketches illustrating this incredible source of inspiration for costume designers. The design and aesthetics of the space lead the visitor into a veritable labyrinth. Everywhere there are doors open, closed, ajar, strange cupboards, nooks and crannies conducive to refuge. On shelves, emblematic objects from fairy tales, on the walls giant images, etc.

Through this exhibition, the CNCS wonders with what aesthetic, what choice of shapes, textiles, ornaments and colors the creators will appropriate these popular tales known to all. The Fairy Tales exhibition thus delivers the vision of these couturiers (Christian Lacroix, On aura tout vu ), costume designers (Tomio Mohri, Franca Squarciapino, Olivier Bériot, Anthony Ward) and visual artists (Henri Galeron, Philippe Guillotel), who have taken hold of this magical universe and its characters.

Images courtesy of Centre National du Costume de Scene