There are multiple Disney theme parks across America and countless stores where one can purchase Disney-branded merchandise ranging from sippy cups and onesies to computer games, shoes, and all matter of children’s toys. And if you’re an adult, there are plenty of Disney products made just for you: sweatshirts, fine jewelry, silverware and even a line of bridal gowns in styles called “Belle,” “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty” with which a Disney fan can be made to feel like a fairy tale princess on her big day.
And now, Latina teens celebrating their quinceañera can channel their inner princess with a new line of gowns by Disney that “combine classic styling with elements of fantasy and magic.”
Disney’s Royal Ball collection will feature 21 gowns, all designed to “bring an air of royal and fairy tale to young women celebrating their Quinceañera,” Disney announced Wednesday. Young girls celebrating their coming of age can choose from gowns inspired by each of Disney’s princess characters, including Ariel (“cascading waves of organza ruffles and oceans of jewels”), Pocahontas (“these gown celebrate the beauty of the earth and the sky”) and Sleeping Beauty (“as alluring and beautiful as Aurora herself”).
The quinceañera party – celebrated throughout Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean – is traditionally held on a girl’s fifteenth birthday to commemorate her entry into womanhood and typically, the gown is an integral part of the celebration. While the fiesta de quince can be as elaborate (think a formal church ceremony, court of attendants and ballroom party) or as simple as budget allows, the quinceañera is a custom maintained by many U.S. Latinos and is now a national industry which generates more than $400 million a year.
“The Latino community has a strong affinity for Disney, and the Disney Royal Ball Quinceañera Collection offers another avenue to make the Quinceañera celebration even more unique and meaningful for Latina teens and their families,” said Gilberto Martinez Kladt, vice president of licensing for Disney Princess of the collection. “Disney is thrilled to provide young Latinas with the opportunity to celebrate the elegance, grace and poise of their favorite Disney Princess characters on such a special and momentous day.”
But for some parents, like Cristy Clavijo-Kish, shopping for the big occasion may not automatically mean turning to Disney. As the mother of 11-year-old twin girls, the Miami-based lifestyle blogger says the decision to go Disney will ultimately rest with her children, who she says ultimately may not prefer such a formal style.
“These dresses are definitely very girly girl,” says Clavijo-Kish, whose Cuban parents threw her a fairly low-key event and rented her a simple dress. Her twins are likely to consider personal style over brand, she says, especially because “they are past the age of wanting to be a princess.”
Even so, Clavijo-Kish says she likes the dress line, citing its modest designs (“I hate it when quinces look inappropriate for their age,” she remarks) and range of “fun” colors and sizes (all gowns will be available in sizes 0-20).
Martha Bermudes, the owner of a bridal and quinceañera gown boutique in Sacramento, California, agrees that Disney’s main selling point for its new collection will be style – not its commercial branding.
“I don’t think girls coming in here would immediately want to look at a Disney gown,” says Bermudes, who typically sells gowns between $100 and $500 dollars; less than the Disney collection gowns priced from $530-$999. The predominantly Mexican-American clientele that come into her store want colorful gowns and what she calls “big, fluffy dresses.”
“If the Disney dresses can make girls feel like princesses, then that’s what they will go for,” explains Bermudes, who has been in the quince gown business for six years. “I don’t think I will stock the dresses right away in my store, but I would probably get a catalogue and special order them if clients are interested in buying them.”
And style might help Latinas and their parents overlook the fact that to date, Disney has not featured a Latinas as a princess in any of its films. There is an American Indian (Pochantas), Asian (Mulan) and African-American (Tiana) princess in Disney’s roster of classic films and parents like Clavijo-Kish are waiting for a bilingual princess to call their own.
“I think there should definitely be a Latina princess,” says Clavijo-Kish, who cites “princess” characteristics like loyalty, entrepreneurship and bravery as some of the values that Latino parents are most likely to appreciate about the current lineup of Disney princesses.
Until then, Latinas across the country can choose – if they have the budget – to embody the Disney princess look on their big birthday.