Ballet and Fashion: Perfect Partners

Famous photography by Andy Warhol

While it’s said that ballet originated as a form of dance in the 15th century, it has long been seen as more than just performance art – ballet’s stylistic elements have gone on to contribute to societal trends in both fashion and beauty.  After Audrey Hepburn slipped on her shoes for the classic film Funny Face, we became hooked on the heelless ballet flat.  Iconic polish empire, Essie, has made their perfect shade of “ballet slipper” pink near legendary, and the “ballerina bun” tutorial may be more common in the blogosphere than it is in the studio. Whether you’re grabbing inspiration from tulle, wrap sweaters or the genre’s soft color palette, ballet continues to influence our self-expression. This collection illustrates how far ballet has come in popular culture and the impact it has on our personal style.



Ask Question
Which aspect of ballet has influenced your style the most? The flirty, tulle skirts, classic colors, elegant flats or conservative updos?
Two dancers of the Ballets Russes in costumes by Coco Chanel, from 1928.

"Chanel designed costumes for four productions, notably Le Train Bleu in 1924 and Apollon Musagete (Apollo, Leader of the Muses) in 1929. According to Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel's current creative director, she, "…helped Diaghilev to stage (his ballet) again after World War I in 1919". Designing costumes for dancers was perfect for a designer whose clothes liberated women and allowed them to move more freely. She once said that, “I have always tried to give women a feeling of being at ease with their time.” Read more at Suite101: Fashion History – The Influence of the Ballets Russes on Fashion

Some of Chanel's costumes for Le Train Bleu, 1924


The allure of the ballet bun

"Although the bun hairstyle is synonymous with ballet, it owes its origins to the women of Ancient Greece, who created a hairstyle now known as the Greek knot. A simple, low-lying bun knotted at the back of the neck, it was typically adorned with jewellery as a status symbol for wealthy Greek women."

"The bun’s crowning moment came in the Victorian period. The 19th century saw many variations of the bun. “Apollo’s knot” was popular during the 1820s and 1830s, and consisted of a middle-parted, high-sitting bun, complimented with corkscrew curls around the face and ears.


The Lure of Perfection

THE LURE OF PERFECTION: FASHION AND BALLET, 1780-1830 offers a unique look at how ballet influenced contemporary fashion and women's body image, and how street fashions in turn were reflected by the costumes worn by ballet dancers. Through years of research, the author has traced the interplay between fashion, social trends, and the development of dance. During the 18th century, women literally took up twice as much space as men; their billowing dresses ballooned out from their figures, sometimes a full 55 inches, to display costly jewelry and fine brocade work; similar costumes appeared on stage. But clothing also limited her movement; it literally disabled them, making the dances themselves little more than tableaux. Movement was further inhibited by high shoes and tight corsets; thus the image of the rigidly straight, long-lined dancer is as much a product of clothing as aesthetics. However, with changing times came new trends. An increased interest in natural movement and the common folk led to less-restrictive clothing. As viewers demanded more virtuosic dancers, women literally danced their way to freedom.

THE LURE OF PERFECTION will interest students of dance and cultural history, and women's studies. It is a fascinating, well-researched look at the interplay of fashion, dance, and culture-still very much a part of our world today.

Valentino designs costumes for 3 ballets

"Valentino Garavani…emerged from retirement to design and create costumes for three upcoming ballets." "Sarah Jessica Parker, a former dancer herself, helped plan the event and knew Valentino's airy design aesthetic was a no-brainer match for the demanding requirements of performance-ready costumes."

The Ballerina Project

The Ballerina Project grew from the idea of New York City as a magnet for creativity; each photograph is a collaborative work of dance, fashion design and photography played out against the city's landscape. Dane Shitagi is the both the creator and photographer of the Ballerina Project.

2010 was a big year for fashion & ballet

Chanel sent dance-inspired looks down their spring runway, and Black Swan rocked the silver screen.

EmilyBee created Ballet and Fashion: Perfect Partners
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