If the shoe fits…

Our blogger Amanda is covered in magical fairy dust and abandons her cynicism… 

ThinkstockPhotos-87740713I’m having a bit of a Cinderella moment this week. We hot-footed it to Leicester Square after school to take in the free Disney Cinderella, The Exhibition organised by sparklers to the stars, Swarovski, to celebrate the opening of the new Disney Cinderella movie starring Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Lily James this weekend.

I’m usually very sceptical about these promos – after all, as product placement goes Swarovski’s products couldn’t be more dazzlingly centre stage. The jewellers not only created Cinders’ crystal slippers, but also the stardust that sprinkles every ball gown in the scene and whose light up crystals make Helena Bonham Carter’s fairy godmother glow from within.

But we were utterly bewitched by the whole experience – not only is the exhibition free, but on the rainy evening we attended the crowds were minimal and at times it felt as if we had the ballroom, cellar and kitchen all to ourselves. We could pose unhurriedly for photographs inside the golden pumpkin coach, feel slightly faint at Cinders’ teeny tiny waist and gawp longingly at her crystal slipper as it shimmered beneath glass on a slowly rotating plinth. I haven’t heard such oohs and aahs from grown women since I went on a school trip to see the crown jewels at The Tower of London, decades ago.

“It’s too sparkly to take a picture of,” cried Cleo, trying in vain to capture it on her phone as the light bounced off its 221 facets.

Whoever curated the exhibition must have had a ball – as well as many nights when they stayed up late enough to turn into a pumpkin. It is a magical recreation of the film set arranged in a way that makes the V&A look a bit lacklustre. We strolled from the garden to the cellar, then into the magnificent ballroom where the exhausted or overwhelmed can sit on gold and red velvet banquettes without being shooed off by the exhibition staff. Everywhere you turn, there is a well-informed young guide to introduce the exhibit, share snippets about the filming and welcome all the visiting princesses into the ballroom. We couldn’t have been made more welcome if as if we’d had a personal invitation from the prince himself. The finale is to die for – virtually a chance to slip into Cinderella’s shoes. Pure magic – and what was most impressive is that this wasn’t a press junket, just put on for the cynical and jaded journos. It’s available to everyone, and you are encouraged to bring your own tiara. It’s free, fun, and is run by trendy young things who are not only informative but seem to genuinely enjoy their work.

Best of all, they don’t force you out through the gift shop – it’s in a separate marquee so if you’re canny and quick on your slippered feet, you can take a sharp right and be back on the tube home before your little princes and princesses have wiped the stardust out of their eyes. To ensure your invitation click your fingers in this direction; you shall go to the ball.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

Amanda Blinkhorn is a freelance journalist who has been writing about money, family life and everything in between since she was 19.

She blogs here almost every day and writes the Money Matters finance column in Candis magazine as well as for The Sunday Times and other newspapers and magazines. She lives in London with her four children aged between 8 and 19. She has almost finished training to be an adult literacy teacher and will qualify this summer, if she ever finishes those pesky essays.

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