By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV, The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE, Md. (AP) – Danielle DiFerdinando thinks it’s time for all children to have role models and pictures that reflect them. As a result, lead designer in charge of the Danielle Nicole X Disney collection has put more emphasis this season on showcasing Disney’s first black princess through her contemporary fashion accessories.
Brand founder Danielle Nicole, which sells handbags and accessories worldwide from her New York base, made an extra attempt this year to promote her merchandise associated with Disney’s Color Princesses, with the lead poster Tiana, the first Black Disney princess from the movie “The Princess and the Frog”. The film has become a cultural phenomenon as it was the first time that Disney has featured a dark princess in a lead role.
For this limited edition collection, which goes on sale on December 17, DiFerdinando has been commissioned by Disney to donate to three princesses – Tiana, Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” and Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” – a contemporary twist imagining their life after their appearances in the cinema.
The Tiana Frappucino Crossbody Handbag is inspired by Tiana’s entrepreneurial spirit. In the movie, Tiana runs a cafe and the bag represents one of the drinks her character would sell.
“She is the hardest worker and she does what she wants. She’s so inspiring, ”said DiFerdinando, 34. “It’s more about making sure all the princesses are represented.”
DiFerdinando’s efforts are aimed at helping correct decades of missteps by Disney, which has been accused by critics of culturally insensitive by exclusion and stereotypes in a number of its previous films.
DiFerdinando said she made it her mission to properly capture Tiana’s strength, courage and beauty.
“I want to spotlight Tiana as an African American,” she said. “Every girl of any age can relate to Tiana because everyday women need inspiration. I watch how hard she worked. She wasn’t looking for anything. She was passionate about what she wanted. . She is also so beautiful and feminine. She is a princess who has it all.
Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” is a 2009 animated version of the novel “The Frog Princess”. The film is based in the 1920s in New Orleans and follows the adventures of Tiana, a passionate worker who aspires to open her own restaurant. She transforms into a frog after kissing a prince who has also been transformed into a frog.
The Tiana bag features additional handcrafted details – a chunky gold chain, textured metallic materials, rhinestones and pearls – that make it one of the most expensive bags in Danielle Nicole’s Disney collection. The bag, which was delayed for two months due to supply chain issues, sells for $ 90. Former Disney collections designed by DiFerdinando ranged from $ 60 to $ 120, according to the Ellicott City native and River Hill High School graduate who now lives in Manhattan. Its main competitor is Loungefly Bags & Accessories.
“It was like putting an entire item of clothing on the handbag,” said DiFerdinando, who was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2015. “I wanted to make them beautiful, stylish and stylish bags. We didn’t care about the price.
When asked about the collaboration, Disney declined to comment.
Zoey Washington, editorial director of Jellyfish, an advertising agency headquartered in Baltimore, thinks DiFerdinando’s designs are important.
“Diversity has been a hot topic lately. We’ve seen a lot of brands jump on it inauthentic ways. What I like about what Danielle does is that it’s very determined. It’s respectful and she takes the time to not only understand the product she is presenting, but there is also an elevated, super trendy and timeless approach to her design, ”said Washington, who is a former fashion editor at magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Popular Style Shows.
“The options shouldn’t be just a tchotchke item or a gift with purchase,” Washington said. “We should have the same feeling of special or inclusiveness that you have with Cinderella. The sky’s the limit with some of these heritage Disney characters.”
In addition to Tianna, DiFerdinando is also responsible for creating new accessories for all princesses, including other colored princesses, from the films “Mulan”, “Aladdin” and “Moana”. While Danielle Nicole has a licensing agreement with Disney to produce handbags and accessories for all the princesses and other characters in their projects, the focus on representation is how DiFerdinando approaches the racial reckoning of 2020.
DiFerdinando will focus on the birthday bag for Princess Jasmin, who will turn 30 in 2022. She also has a new collection, DANI by Danielle Nicole, which will be launched in 1,100 Kohl’s stores in early 2022. The pieces in this collection will all sell for $ 50 or less.
“It’s a beautiful thing. It shows diversity. Beauty is in every person, regardless of age and race, ”she said.
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