The Kenneth Branagh-directed film Cinderella opens today with the fair Lily James in the title role—you've probably seen her floating across those ubiquitous movie posters dressed in her diaphanous sky blue gown and iconic glass slippers. With the release of the beloved fairytale comes an opportunity for fun: gather your little girls and boys (or grown ones, for that matter) before or after the show for a fete that celebrates fairy dust, helpful talking mice, and magic pumpkins. We turned to fashion designer Cynthia Rowley—who also has a candy store in downtown Manhattan called Curious, “where Willy Wonka meets Tim Burton,” she explains—for her artful ideas on creating a party that’s fit for a princess.
What’s on the menu, you ask? This particular shindig is all about sweets, but to keep your guests energized, it’s important to have something savory in the mix. Rowley suggests simple cucumber canapés, which are easily made by spreading a thin layer of cream cheese on white bread, sandwiching sliced cucumbers in between, and trimming off the crusts. Rowley arranges them on cake stands, and evokes Cinderella’s wildlife pals by placing a white, miniature stuffed squirrel alongside the tea sandwiches. "Cake stands give the setup a 'wow' factor," she says. "Arranging the various treats and props at different levels gives the table movement. I like to present a little story with each stand."
A parade of cupcakes, chocolates and cotton candy kick up a fantasy mood. Little chocolate mice illustrate key Cinderella characters, and live happily next to white mini cupcakes sprinkled with edible luster dust.
Instead of bouquets of flowers, gather skinny cones topped with swirls of cotton candy, and nestle them in a vase. Rowley sprinkles hers with more edible luster dust since sparkle is a crucial theme. “I covered the table with dark linen cloths to reference midnight, and threw silver confetti stars on top for extra glitter,” she says. "We are talking about what happened on a starry night, after all."
A shimmering crown at each placesetting gives guests their own royal moment ("who doesn't want to wear a glitter crown all of the time?" she asks), and teacups make for personal lollipop holders, until its time to fill them with juice, or something stronger for the adults. Try to tuck a pumpkin or two into your decadent tablescape to keep your Cinderella themes on point (Rowley centers one on a cake stand along with a bluebird or two). "You could also place a fresh mini pumpkin from the green market at everyone's seat," she says.
When it comes to the soundtrack, "any rocker-style stuff does the trick," she says. "I like to mix all of the frills with something unexpected!"