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Fashion and Ballet: When Two Worlds Collide

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How they inspire each other.

Ballet fitness is still a growing trend. Since the very beginning of ballet, the dance form has both inspired and been inspired by high fashion. There seems to be a never-ending dance between both worlds, both influencing one another throughout the centuries.

Ballet’s ethereal quality is an appealing trait to fashion designers. The sense of beauty and sophistication it bestows cannot be denied. It is in fact due to ballet’s costume designers bringing their own style and professional fashion expertise to the stage that fashion became a part of this art form.

A ballet performance requiring original costumes only grew more customary as time went on. In the 19th century when ballerinas such as Geneviève Gosselin, Marie Taglioni and Fanny Elssler experimented with new techniques such as pointe work, new shoe and dress designs were introduced, often intriguing both designers and the public.

This brought forth the balletic ideal of light and that ‘pure movement’ look we all know and adore. Movies have also made use of this art form, from “Funny Face,” where Audrey Hepburn dances a more contemporary form of ballet, to “The Red Shoes,” one of my beloved classics, the red ballet shoes.

Also Moira Shearer’s flaming copper hair, her topaz-colored ball gown as she ascends the steps of a crumbling south-of-France villa, is one of the most striking visions of ballet on film.

More recently, “Black Swan” starring Natalie Portman influenced spring runway lines. Chanel sent numerous looks down the catwalk that reflected the gothic, dark look of Portman’s character.

Ballet and fashion have inspired each other for as long as performers have been dressing up and dancing.

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