Most people might not actually realise that Lewis Carroll is a nom de plume, Carroll's real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. There's an interesting bit of trivia for you. And, the novel wasn't written by Carroll/ Dodgson with the goal for it to be published and become one of the best loved book of all time, no, it was merely the telling of 'Alice's Adventures Underground' a fairytale that Carroll described to the kids of the Dean of Christ Church College on a boat trip one afternoon. One of them requested the tale to be written down and although he took his time to actually fulfil the request, it eventually culminated in a completed manuscript, illustrated with his own drawings. He sourced a publisher called Macmillan of London and also an illustrator, noted cartoonist John Tenniel. Following the release Carroll began work on a sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, published in 1872. The two Alice books remain in print today, over a century after their publication.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Throughout the book the illustrations by John Tenniel show quite elaborate and lavish costumes being worn by each of the characters that Alice meets on her fantastical journey. These were to be later recreated and embellished upon in various film and television adaptations and in some instances lose some of their uniqueness, but more about that later. Back to the book and if you leaf through the pages and absorb some of the images that accompany the novel you can see Tenniel has really made the Lewis Carroll creations come to life. For example, the lady who dons the Queen of Hearts costume with her caricature like features and outfit which look as if the inspiration has been taken from a playing card, something which is more than likely with the playing card characters in the tale. For the sake of prosperity and in the event you are wondering, the spades are gardeners, clubs are soldiers, diamonds are courtiers, and hearts are members of the royal family. It's true, look it up.
A simple outfit which is easily as recognisable as any of those more intricate such as the Mad Hatter costume is that of the protagonist in our tale. The Alice in Wonderland outfit is of course bereft of colour due to the black and white printing of the original 1865 version, yet still looks delightful. The Alice in Wonderland fancy dress is popularly depicted as a pale blue knee-length dress with a white pinafore over the top. Originally the outfit was yellow in “The Nursery Alice”, a shortened version of Lewis Carroll's book for under fives. If we look at the early coloured works by John Tenniel, her dress was blue, her white pinafore outlined in red, and she was blonde. This is probably the defining description if you consider the original artist's interpretation.
Alice In Wonderland Film
At the time of writing there have been sixteen adaptations of major TV and film projects broadcast to the world. You can actually head on over to YouTube and see the very first silent movie directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow. You can see how the inspiration for the character's costumes were heavily based on John Tenniel's original illustrations. Take a look at Alice in Wonderland (1903) now, for nine of the original twelve minute short film restored by the BFI National Archive. It's not bad for a short made over a hundred years ago.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland finally received the big budget attention it deserves in 2010's Tim Burton variation on the story, effectively making it a sequel to the first Alice book. In the movie a 19 year old Alice returns to the magical world from her previous childhood adventure, where she reunites with old friends and learns she must end the Red Queen's reign of terror. The film went onto be honoured with Oscar's for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design at the 83rd Academy Awards.
If you still haven't seen the film you'll be happy to hear that the Oscar for Best Costume Design is well deserved. The Mad Hatter costume that was worn by Johnny Depp in the picture looks vastly different to what you may remember in a literary sense. The Tim Burton Mad Hatter appears to have a more colourful look with his bright tie and boasts orange hair, which is said to be an allusion to the mercury poisoning suffered by many hatters who used mercury to cure pelts.
Another of the outfits that will really surprise you and leave you admiring the incredible costume design is the Red Queen costume. The Red Queen, who actually featured in Through the Looking-Glass, the book which followed Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is the antagonist in this feature film. The Red Queen is portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter and wears a glorious regal gown which although I have tried to describe I really cannot do it justice.
Lastly we have the Alice in Wonderland fancy dress as worn by Alice, of course, and played by Mia Wasikowska. The actress dons a beautiful Alice in Wonderland dress which looks so vivid in Burton's fantasy world.
Alice in Wonderland Fancy Dress
There's a decent selection of Alice in Wonderland fancy dress costumes available to buy. If you would like to mark the birthday of Lewis Carroll's classic tale take a look below for some of the most popular costumes available today from our fairytale costumes range.