“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, on the stages, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening”
In 1924, Coco Chanel was one of the first designers that understood the deep synergy between two art forms, Fashion and Dance. Focusing on performances through the years, we might say that these two creative universes are intrinsically linked. Movements are the medium used by dancers, but they are also the essential horizon which designers have in mind when create a new dress or a new accessory.
Designers and coreographers have often met each other establishing stunning collaborations that made the history of these two fields. As a matter of fact, It is not a coincidence if dress and adornment have played an important role for such a long time in the visual allure of dance, and fashion designers have often been inspired by way dancers look, too.
Everything started when Coco Chanel, dance lover and passionate in all kinds of art, designed the sportswear worn for the main gymnasts of the play “Le train bleu”. This collaboration probably gave the green light to an innovative route that many important members of the fashion system have followed after her. We all know that fashion is based on “flux and re-flux” so it is not strange to guess how Karl Lagerfeld, current creative director of the Maison Chanel, took ispiration from this collection to design the costumes for the English National Ballet in 2009.
For few years, the war cut out these works, but they got re-started again after the conflict with a completly different style. In this period also Christian Dior, joined this phylon creating the famous dresses for the “Black Swan” for the show “Swan Lake” with the music of Tchaikovsky.
The 1940s saw the Birth of the most acknowledged accessories nowdays: the ballet flat. They were designed by Rose Repetto, mother of Roland Petit, one of the most important dancers in history. In a very short time, ballet flats became famous also beyond the dance world, tried and tested by both genders and by many important people as Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsborg and Audrey Hepburn.
When Roland Petit grew up, he asked Yves Saint Laurent to design the costumes for the show “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1959 and the more famous one “Notre-Dame de Paris” staged at Opèra de Paris in 1965 that probably consolidated more the link between fashion and coreography.
There were many of these collaborations and it is not possible to talk about each one, even if they were in their own way important and suggestive. Over the years this current was reversed and nowdays dance follows fashion instead of the other way around.
To remember the show “Bal de Couture” organized by the New York City Ballet”, totally dedicated to the couturier Valentino Garavani which designed the costumes personally, blaffed the spectators with a feast of colors and shades of high fashion.
Source: New York City Ballet Tiler Peck, center, and fellow company members in Valentino in “Bal de Couture” at the Koch Theater. Credit Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
More recently also Alexander McQueen, Elsa Schiaparelli and many others were reasserting the connection between dance and fashion saving the heritage of the predecessors in this way.
There is no more magical scenario for designers than the theater, where they can travel with thoughts and with scissors among the scene costumes which remain in the history of the stages, cinema and styles. Fashion and dance: a timeless ode to beauty: in the past, now and in the future.
Source: NYCB Principal Dancer Tiler Peck, in Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen
“The Guardian” Website: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/nov/08/dance-fashion-exhibition-new-york-fit-museum
“Il fatto quotidiano” Website: http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2014/08/19/dance-fashion-lunione-fra-balletto-e-moda-in-mostra-a-new-york/1081928/