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Are there any costume designers out there in our community? Browsing through the V&A’s website I discovered some astounding costumes created for the Ballet Russes.

I have often mused that if I were living in another time it would be fantastic to create costumes for ballet or opera. One summer, in between studying Fashion Design in Italy, I interned for Emerson College’s Costume Design Department where I assisted the head designer who creates all of the costumes for Boston’s Shakespeare In The Park series. I realized I was not cut out for costume design, but that doesn’t keep me from admiring the handiwork.

The collage above features costumes designed for the Ballet Russes in the early 1900s. The first picture, clockwise from top left, is one of Vaslav Nijinsky costumes for “Le Festin”. The beading, jewels and embroidery is luscious (the lovely purple gloved hands belong to an employee of the V&A). The second costume, created for Alice Nikitina as Flore in Zephyr et Flore, is so beautifully embroidered and whimsical, I could see it translated into a dress I’d wear. Henri Matisse created the painted dress coat for the Mandarin from Le Chant du Rossignol. Picasso even lent his creative expertise and designed The Chinese Conjuror’s robes with gorgeous quilting detail and bright colors. I am in love with this front cloth used for Le Train Bleu after a painting by Picasso (1924). Lastly is an adorable drawing by Jean Cocteau of the composer Igor Stravinsky playing the music for Le Sacre du Prentemps (1913).


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    Jun 17, 2010, 02.07 AMby indira

    I studied costume design many years ago in Germany, and in those days we studied just the design for 3 years, and then we had the “Masters of the Garment”, the “Gewandmeister” who studied alongside us, and they were the ones who actually made the cozzies….. It was very involved and people ended up working in Opera and theatre. I ended up in Melbourne and made hats and jewelery for many years at the Opera here. But it’s hard to survive on costume design alone!

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    Jun 16, 2010, 05.03 PMby Ariel Jordan

    I just finished studying costume design at the University of Idaho and this summer I’m working as the costume shop manager at the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater. Costumes are interesting. It can be challenging, but the fun and interesting thing about theater is the colaboration!

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    Jun 16, 2010, 01.02 AMby sewfun2001

    I’m a costume designer that works at area community theatres. I’ve done lots of costume designing as well as stitching. It’s really fun and VERY therapeutic for me!

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    Jun 15, 2010, 06.03 PMby britlitgal

    Amazing. Works of art.

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    Jun 15, 2010, 08.14 AMby Sarah Magill

    I studied costume design and making and worked at the Royal Opera House in London. I now teach textiles, but still love costume, particularly historical dress. Sandy Powell is one of my favourite costume designers and the work of Leon Bakst, who designed for the Ballet Russes is simply stunning.

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    Jun 15, 2010, 03.35 AMby fraiche

    I work on costumes for the Boston Ballet! I actually started after being awestruck by seeing their production of the Ballet Russes last September.

    1 Reply
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      Jun 15, 2010, 08.11 PMby alisondahl

      Cool so you live in Boston. I used to live on Fort Hill. I’ve been to the costume shop at the Boston Ballet and worked with one of the seamstresses there. Sounds like you’re having fun!

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    Jun 14, 2010, 10.27 PMby minnietheminks

    Wow, what great costumes! I studied costume construction, not the designing but the making of costumes. We used alot of couture methods plus heaps of illusions. It is really a thrill to make a designers costume design come alive and then see it on the performer and think that you made it.

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