Ballet and fashion have always made a great couple, both forms of art, both built on drama and beauty, with jaw dropping pieces of clothing at their centre. For over a hundred years they have enjoyed a fruitful relationship, from Coco Chanel’s costumes for the Ballet Russes, to Yves Saint Laurent’s 1977 catwalk collection inspired by the very same Russian ballet company.
Ballet chic is set to be huge through spring and summer 2011. Black Swan has already won a Golden Globes Award for leading lady Natalie Portman and coming soon is Emily Blunt also playing a ballerina in the movie The Adjustment Bureau along side Matt Damon. The clothes of ballerinas have long played a part in today’s fashion culture but with Hollywood’s renewed facination in all things ballet we can expect an explosion of dance inspired clothing hitting the high street.
What is so special about Ballerina fashion?
Ballerinas evoke elegance, sophistication, athleticism, beauty, fragility, strength and sensuality.
But what about this word: fashion?
With the buzz surrounding ballet suspense thriller “Black Swan,” there are reasons for fashion designers to pirouette.
That’s because dance clothes aren’t just being worn by ballerinas these days. Fashion for adults and children is rife with ballet-inspired garments, including tutu skirts, jazz pants and of course dance sneakers from makers such as Bloch and Capezio. Perhaps the most successful cross-over to the high street has been achieved by Pineapple with the colourful dance studio derived garments.
The growing trend of ordinary people buying dance clothing
The appeal of ballet fashion is not surprising, says Margaret McKeever, Commercial Director of Dancemania, it’s all about mystique.
“There are certain words people associate with ballet dancers — glamorous, elegant, mysterious, beautiful, youthful and thin,” said Margaret, who has supported the production of numerous dance shows and events. “They’re so prim and proper and I think a lot of people would love to be that way.”
“We have a lot of customers who call in to our Poole showroom with young daughters who simply want to dress like a ballerina, and from that age the ballerina becomes a role model for them. We also have a lot of rugby players and Royal Marines requesting tutus, but I think that merits a blog post all of its own.”
“In general we have seen the adoption of dancewear by the non-dancing public increase dramatically over the last few years following a small decrease after the legwarmer era of the 80’s. I think this increased interest is because of the cachet of being able to dress like a dancer and also due in no small part to the wonderful designs that combine brilliant function and form.”
what willl be trending in ballet fashion this year?
In recent years, women’s collections have included lightweight wrap cotton sweaters, leather ballet flats, skirts made from shredded fabric, feathered skirts and gowns with jeweled bodices — all of which are fashion staples for professional ballet dancers. Designers as varied as Chanel and Alexander McQueen have taken their cues from the genre as well, and bridal collections this year are playing up elaborate designs involving tulle, netting and organza and fuller silhouettes with ruffles, layers and other embellishments.
Take this dress from Reem Acra with its Lyrical lines of feathered hem and Ivory satin ballet ribbon waist band – a purely ballet inspired creation from their autumn 2011 collection.
The trend is timely with the popularity of the psychological thriller “Black Swan,” starring Natalie Portman. Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director, the film centers around a young ballerina who must let go of her perfectionist ideals and mother’s strong hand to reach an emotional breakthrough. Portman’s costumes are the work of sister designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. Known for their use of fabrics and often abstract designs, the duo created several ornate costumes made with feathers and Swarovski crystals for the film, which also includes wardrobe selections from dancewear maker Yumiko.
When did dancewear become so fashionable?
Ballet dancers haven’t always been in style. James Glavan, professor of costume technology at the University of Texas, said he remembers a time in the 1970s and ’80s when dancers didn’t have much fashion cachet. That changed, he said, with the popularity of movies such as “Fame,” “Flashdance” and “Dirty Dancing,” in which standard dance clothes such as leotards, sweaters with waist ties, leg-warmers and ballet flats became fashionable.
Glavan said he believes Björk’s swan dress, worn to the 2001 Academy Awards, might have led to the ultimate resurgence of ballet-inspired clothes that consumers see today in fashion garments. The Icelandic singer’s now-infamous swan dress designed by Marjan Pejoski was a talker for years.
In Björk’s case, the dress, which had a faux swan’s neck for a collar, was used for the cover photo of the singer’s album, “Vespertine,” but, while dramatic, the dress seemed out of place on the red carpet at the Oscars. However, it did accomplish two things. Björk got attention in the media and her dress selection reminded viewers of the special qualities of a ballerina’s wardrobe, Glavan said.
“There’s nothing as feminine and eloquent as a tutu or a ballerina in a tutu,” he said. “There’s a certain fragility about that that’s very attractive. There’s a desirability. It’s an image that’s desirable to possess. Not everyone can look like that, and not everyone can possess that woman. It’s such an ideal. Just the ballet tutu itself inspires quality, beauty, elegance and grace. The couture quality of a ballet tutu is unmistakable.”
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