A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle
“Beauty and the Beast is my number 1 favorite thing. In life.”
April Lilly’s first Disney memory is of getting goosebumps as a toddler, while watching the introduction of Disney’s 1991 animated feature film, Beauty and the Beast. This memory was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the film, and its lead character Belle.
“I live and breathe Beauty and the Beast! It’s my absolute favorite in all respects: storyline, message, princess, prince, music, epic kiss - everything. The Beast/Prince was my first crush, and I fell hard! It still counts even if I was only 3!”
There Must be More Than This Provincial Life
For April, the love for Disney runs deep. April, now 26, is originally from Romania, but has been living in New Zealand since she was a child. Though she works as a graduate teaching assistant at a local university, her true passion lies in treasuring anything Disney– an obsession which led to her impressive collection.
“I was always into collecting. Throughout my life I’ve had a lot of random collections.”
As a child April held onto Kinder Surprise toys, vinyl records, paintbrushes, Sailor Moon, Harry Potter, T-Shirts, My Little Pony, paintings, makeup and, of course, dolls.
“I’ve had a small doll collection ever since I was little -mostly made up of Barbies and knock-off Barbies since the real thing was very hard to come by in Romania in those times.“
As an adult, April’s childhood love for dolls was reignited when she discovered the 2012 Disney Designer Villains Collection. She instantly fell in love with the entire collection and bought her first piece, the Limited Edition Designer doll: Mother Gothel from Disney’s 2010 film Tangled.
“I started off with buying the Villains and then it all went downhill (for my wallet) from there. I didn't just collect Disney dolls, but also started collecting Monster High, Ever After High, Barbie Collector dolls, and more!”
April’s collection has now grown to include shelves of dolls, 72 old Disney books, Disney figurines and Mcdonald’s toys, mugs, diaries, post cards and shirts. April’s favorite item? The Limited Edition Designer Fairytale Beauty and the Beast doll set of course!
Here's Where She Meets Prince Charming
April’s husband not only supports her collection, but has engaged in a bit of collecting himself including books, records, sports cards and music memorabilia. Because of her love for Beauty and the Beast, when April got engaged to her husband, she tentatively suggested that the wedding be themed with pieces inspired by her favorite film….and her very understanding fiancé accepted!
While the pair agreed that they wanted the Disney film to inspire everything in their wedding, they didn’t want the day to turn into a cosplay event at the risk of losing the romance. While the wedding was not a Beauty and the Beast replica, it was gracefully infused into the details of the day.
Though the bride opted for a traditional white bridal gown, it was paired with a yellow parasol and a hairstyle which echoed Belle’s in the famous ballroom scene of the film. April’s husband-to-be wore a Beast inspired, royal blue ballroom tailcoat trimmed with gold, and a white dress shirt with a white ruffled kerchief.
Throughout the wedding and reception, small accents paid homage to April’s favorite film, with the flower bouquets made up of yellow florals, the wedding cake decorated with yellow roses, and a red rose under a glass dome making a statement in the room. The guest tables were also themed: each one adorned with a Lumiere inspired candelabra and guests gifted little pocket watch wedding favors, as a nod to the endearing character of Cogsworth.
April’s bridesmaids and maid of honor were also given a rose themed jewelry set as a thank you on the day, and a large painting from the film, painted by April, was the finishing touch to the room.
Look There She Goes - the Girl That's Strange but Special
As well as April’s treasured collection of Disney, dolls and more, April also has a collection of Disney inspired art which she creates herself.
April’s artistic skills developed as a child. When April’s was around seven years old, her mother recognized her talent, and organized for April to have private art lessons by a student from a local fine arts college who taught her basic art concepts and encouraged her to apply her artistic talents whenever she could. By the age of 12, April had her own art exhibition and has continued to paint, draw and experiment with different techniques ever since.
Two years ago, April put her creativity to good use on YouTube, creating her own channel ‘Disney Ever After’. Disney Ever After is a channel set up for reviewing toys and dolls, as well as giving some of the toys makeovers and customizations. April also shows her latest art and craft projects, taking viewers through the process step-by-step so they can watch her creative process and create their own pieces. Some of April’s most popular videos are her ‘thrift store haul’ videos, where she showcases treasures she has found at local second hand stores and online auction sites, including Disney figurines, dolls and much more.
Since its establishment, April’s Disney Ever After channel has had almost two million views and has gained over 8,500 subscribers. This has allowed April to build a loyal fan base of devoted followers and conduct international give-away's every month.
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