Thursday, January 7, 2010

Retro Aesthetic Inspiration: Lady LovelyLocks

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last couple of days--Jan Term's started at college and I'm busy writing a paper on Beowulf and Paradise Lost. Two English epics completely unrelated to the content of this post, lol.
The first of what I hope will be a continuing series of aesthetic inspirations I've gathered over the years. Today's piece of inspiration is from the 1980s and typifies the decade's obsession with bright colors, princesses, and above all--BIG freaking hair.
Lady LovelyLocks was created by American Greetings, the same company that produced Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Bright. LovelyLocks never reached their level of lasting popularity, but is a very interesting series nonetheless.

Here's the story: In the faraway land of LovelyLocks, where everyone has long and lustrous hair, the king and queen give birth to a beautiful girl they name Lady LovelyLocks. However, the Grand Duchess RavenHair, envious of their power, destroys the king and queen. A wizard named ShiningGlory rescues the infant princess who will return once she grows into her powers. Lady grows into a fair maiden whose magical hair is streaked with three colors: "The soft pink glow came from the Dawn, the Sun added the radiant gold, and Twilight bestowed the shimmering lavender. These precious streaks enable her to summon the friendly little forest creatures called the Pixietails and command them to do her bidding." The Pixietails are these tiny woodland creatures with long magic hair that keep the kingdom lovely and free of evil. Lady also has another power--she can see the goodness inside anything no matter its outward appearance. With her parents gone, she is completely responsible for protecting LovelyLocks Land from the wicked heiress of RavenHair, the Duchess RavenWaves.

Lady LovelyLocks and the PixieTails, artwork examples.
What is really cool about the series is the artwork, which is highly stylized due in part to American Greetings' having originated the series. All the watercolor work, the over-the-top pastels and the cherubic faces of the characters are quite astounding. It's shocking in our age of cg-animation and 3-d to see something so intricately designed by hand! I actually only remembered the series a short while back, when I found a card from AG featuring LovelyLocks and thought," gosh, how pretty." A little googling and I found whole sites dedicated to the old cartoon/doll series, including (where the images in this post come from).

The vain and wicked young Duchess RavenWaves
I think my favorite aspect of the show is that, by social standards, RavenWaves can be considered prettier than LovelyLocks. Yet she feels the need to compete, never satisfied with how she looks. Indeed, Lady and her friends initially hope to welcome RavenWaves as a friend and ally, but RavenWaves betrays them out of jealousy. Usually the villains on girls' shows in the 80s were portrayed as ugly hags, equating physical beauty with goodness. In this series, the villainess and the heroine are equally beautiful, but Lady is courageous, friendly, and compassionate--the things RavenWaves lacks on the inside and tries to compensate for on the outside. The one thing RavenWaves fails to realize, as we're told almost every episode, is that Lady's true powers come not from her appearance, but from her heart. The strongest message of the show was that girls needed to stop fighting with each other over what's on the outside because power and lasting beauty is only found on the inside. And to complement this, the prince on this show is named StrongHeart (emphasis added), and is cursed to live in the form of a dog, playing a secondary role the majority of the time. A different take on the fairytale model, that's for sure. But even if the show and the backstory aren't your thing, the angelic art from American Greetings is still pretty phenomenal:

The series is definitely for those of the sweeter persuasion, princess and fairy kei fashion enthusiasts would be more likely to enjoy it than your average 80s timesurfer. Tata! :-)

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