Cinderella Reinvented: The magic of a makeover never ends

Makeover moments never get stale. As a little girl, I felt the magic when Cinderella transformed into a princess and astonished all the people at the ball as she makes a grand entrance.

Fast forward to the 20th – 21st century and you have a long string of makeover movies. The fairy godmother may no longer be there to wave her wand, but the magic of a makeover is still present. Deeper than the makeover though, is the woman the character becomes after the makeover. From early 20th century London to the modern day New York City, let’s take a journey and see how makeovers have generously worked their perpetual magic for us women.

Sabrina (1954): Sleek and Sophisticated


This is one of Audrey Hepburn’s timeless classics, where she plays Sabrina Fairchild, daughter of the driver of the powerful and business savvy Larrabee clan. From a simple, gawky and lanky girl, she reinvents herself as a sophisticated fashionista showing-off her new-found French style.

 FASHION MOMENT: Fresh from cooking school in France, she arrives and shocks David Larrabee (the man she has had a crush on forever, played by William Holden), with her new look. Audrey Hepburn is famous for her iconic fashion statements in her movies and this particular film does not disappoint. In the movie, she returns to the States in shades, wearing a black skirt and blazer with a white scarf tied over her head. David’s reaction in the scene when he realizes that it was actually Sabrina Fairchild, the woman who practically grew up in his garage, earned a laugh from its viewers. The new Sabrina that exuded humor and confidence in clear contrast to her previous shy and fearful character displays the power of a makeover.

The movie ends with the classic twist of Sabrina falling for Linus Larrabee (David’s brother played by Humphrey Bogart) instead. Disappointing? Not at all, the movie left me delightfully rooting for them get together. After all, who can resist Humphrey Bogart aside from Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca?

My Fair Lady (1964): The timeless Princess- do


In the movie, we are taken into a free fashion show set in the early 20th century. Timeless pieces which have been reinvented through time and have inspired many designs of today are manifested in the entire film including the famous white, lace serpentina gown that Eliza Doolittle wears to the horse race. From a flower girl with dirt all over her face, she metamorphoses into a regal beauty. This is one of the best makeovers in movie history.

FASHION MOMENT: Her entrance in the queen’s ball is a dream of millions of girls all over the world. Who wouldn’t want to play princess for real?  The transformation was complete. Eliza entered the room in a Greek-inspired flowing, beaded, ball gown with delicate pleats at the center. Her hair was pulled back, with a diamond crown to complete the look. She had every head in the room turned, including the queen’s.

The queen was so impressed in fact, that she asked Eliza to dance with her son; the crown prince. She even manages to fool the Zoltan Kaparthy; the Hungarian phonetics expert, who usually can tell if someone’s faking their social status. After screening her, he finally concluded that she was a Hungarian princess in disguise, “Her English is too good…which clearly means that she is foreign.”, as retold by Professor Higgins after the ball.

Pretty Woman (1990): Dressing like a Lady


…and so the princess at the top of the tower was rescued by her prince and they lived happily ever after.

This was the version of the fairy tale that we knew. Never did we expect Cinderella to be rescued from Hollywood Boulevard, as professional escort; Vivian Ward (played by Julia Roberts), proved otherwise. In this witty, romantic picture, Vivian meets her prince charming in the person of powerful and rich business executive; Edward Lewis (Richard Gere).

FASHION MOMENT: She bloomed into a lady, worthy of a balcony sit in Broadway. When she meets Edward for the Broadway show, it was a 180 degree turnaround from what she previously looked like. From the blonde wig that she was wearing at the beginning of the movie, her hair was now dark red and pulled back. She also had traded in her black mini-skirt and worn-out leather boots for a red off-shoulder, figure flattering dress and white gloves, giving her a really refined look. Everyone in the hotel lobby looked at her in amazement as she walked side by side with handsome Edward.

The graceful beauty that she gained through the makeover shone even brighter when she decided to quit being an escort and chose to live a better life.

Head Over Heels (2001): Smoky-eyes that captivate


The makeover gets a little bit funkier in Head over Heels, a romantic comedy starred by Monica Potter who plays Amanda. After having broken up with her boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself renting an apartment with four models, who give her the makeover of her life.

FASHION MOMENT: This movie emphasizes the use of smoky-eyes being the make-up’s focal point. The look mixed classic and vintage fashion by combining a long black dress with a feather collar with detailed silver jewellery. The incredible overhaul was able to kill the history nerd look, giving her a more daring and eye-catching one. This definitely made her the belle of the ball. What a good makeover it was, after all, she got the attention of Jim Winston (played by 90’s heartthrob Freddie Prinze, Jr.), who fell head over heels in love with her.

 Although the makeover was indeed a success, Jim knew better and saw Amanda for who she was as he gives her his full attention saying, “You’re not like most of the women I see in these parties.”. Makeover moments aren’t the “end all, be all” of the story, it’s only the beginning, but it gives you quite a good start anyway.

 Devil Wears Prada (2007): Runway Galore


The road to beauty is not always an easy one. Take it from Andie Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway in this addicting film set in a world headed by cold-hearted editor-in-chief, Miranda Priestly where how you looked – did matter. From an idealistic and somewhat naïve girl wearing what looked like her “grandmother’s skirt”, she evolved into a woman that had a thousand dollar wardrobe including Valentino, Jimmy Choo, and Channel as her second skin.

FASHION MOMENT: Andie shocked Emily when she entered the office in knee-high black, leather Channel boots, a white-outlined black, wide-collared, blazer on top of a grey mini-dress, backed-up with a chic bangs and  highlights, and completed with a layered gold necklace. This left Emily (Emily Blunt), bitter with envy. We all witnessed how her confidence skyrocketed, as she dealt with fashion Runway’s fashion gurus with ease and charm. This earns Miranda’s very rare nod of approval.

 At the end of the movie though, we see Andie Sachs quit. Truly, it was proof that Andie, after having faced a lot of challenging moments at Runway that almost ate her up alive, had transformed. Far from the submissive self that she previously was, she now had the courage to say, “Enough!”, to the most powerful person in fashion.

Do you have a favorite makeover movie? I’d love to hear about it!