As we all know, Internet culture has two main interests: cats and reimagined Disney princesses. Thanks to photographer Tony Ross and costume designer Nephi Garcia, the latter culture just became a little bit richer. The pair teamed up to create a series depicting Disney princesses as queens, decades after they save the kingdom and meet some handsome prince along the way. Needless to say, the results are beyond stunning — they're as majestic as it gets.
The concept of a realistic Disney princess photo shoot is not anything new, but Ross and Garcia added a fascinating layer to the idea. On top of photographing young women as real life Disney characters, they brought in the models' mothers to portray the same characters in stately middle age. After all, not even princesses stay young forever. Eventually, they mature into queens, with duties and families and political influence. But don't worry — if the photo series is any indication, they retain their fantastic sense of style. (Garcia, who styled the photo shoot, is well known for his intricate Disney-inspired children's costumes.)
The series takes a simple format: Each photograph of a young Disney character is followed by her older, equally elegant counterpart. Try not to flail right out of your chair when you see a middle-aged Mulan serenely gazing straight into your soul.
Ross told A Plus that the series celebrates the bond between mothers and daughters. In fact, it was part of a Mother's Day photo shoot. "The main idea was to portray the relationship between a true mother and daughter as the same princesses a generation apart to show the similarities, the features that are alike," he said, adding that they had to narrow down their choices from many different princesses at first. Once they made their picks, he explained, "Nephi designed paired dresses that resembled the youth, vibrancy, and life for the daughter, and a much more royal and elegant toned dress for the mother."
They contacted people they knew personally to portray the characters. According to BuzzFeed, each one is a mother-daughter pair except for Snow White, who was depicted by a woman and her mother-in-law. (They may not be related, but they still look shockingly alike.)
But enough talk. You want to see another photo, don't you?
Garcia told BuzzFeed that he hoped the photos would carry a "sense of realism," which is often lacking in the realm of Disney. "These princesses are not just meant to dress up prettily, but they each have a responsibility," he told the web site.
In addition to Ariel and Mulan, the princesses featured in the series include Cinderella, Belle, Ariel, and Elena. Maybe Jasmine fans can hope for a sequel to the photo shoot.
Of all the Disney reimaginings out there, this particular series is unique in that it shows the princesses as anything other than slender young women. It isn't the first time someone has depicted the characters as they age, but the idea is certainly still uncommon. It doesn't help, of course, that Western culture has a complicated relationship with aging, especially when it comes to women. Women past the age of 30 are often treated as if they passed their beauty expiration date. But as the photo shoot shows, that could not be further from the case. The older Disney princesses — the Disney queens, as it were — are just as lovely as their younger selves.
To see more of Garcia's designs, head over to the Designer Daddy website or follow him on Instagram. Photographer Tony Ross can be found on Instagram as well, or you can check out his website. To view the rest of the photo series, head over here.