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Right before Christmas my boyfriend and I went to see The Nutcracker performed by the New York City ballet at Lincoln Center. I used to dance as a little girl and always dreamed of seeing this performance around the Holidays in New York— well my dream came true and we loved the performance, but for me, I especially adored the costumes. It got me to thinking about ballet’s influence on fashion and vice versa. In the collage above: Dujour Magazine: Such a Cheeky Life: Ballerinas, Natalie Portman in Black Swan, A Rodarte sketch for the film, Dujour magazine, Chanel S/S 2010

At one point in my life I wanted to design costumes for opera and film. One summer I interned for Rafael Jaen, the costume design professor at Emerson College, where he was designing all of the costumes for Boston’s Shakespeare & Company’s summer play series. I adored my professor and owe a lot to him, but I quickly realized I was more drawn to fashion design, though I still think it would be amazing to create some pieces for opera or film…

“The film “Black Swan” both reflects — and anticipates — a trend in the making, its multilayered tutus, feathers and cobwebby knits attesting to a shift in the fashion wind. Left, Natalie Portman’s character in one of the customes designed by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. Right, one of the designers’ sketches." Credit: Niko Tavernise/Fox Searchlight Pictures; Rodarte, via Associated Press (The New York Times)

Has anyone seen Black Swan? I’ve heard mixed reviews but I will see it when it’s out on dvd— if not only to see the costumes by Rodarte! I know we have a lot of costume designers in the BurdaStyle community, do you see an influence of ballet in fashion or vice versa?

For Chanel’s S/S 2011 runway show, Karl Lagerfeld explored dark and light, naughty and nice with ballerina-inspired dresses of tulle and chiffon; right, another Rodarte sketch. Credit: Niko Tavernise/Fox Searchlight Pictures; Rodarte, via Associated Press (The New York Times)

More looks from Chanel’s S/S 2011 runway show

The Amsterdam-based art school heroes Viktor & Rolf moonlighted as costume designers at Baden-Baden’s opera house. Last May, they dressed Carl Maria von Weber’s Romantic fairytale Der Freischÿtz. Vibrant costumes adorned with mountains of Swarovski crystals competed with clean, white costumes. W magazine

Lanvin’s S/S 2011 runway show’s models and gowns looked like floating ballerinas

In 1994 Vanessa Leyonhjelm embodied the 90s deconstructionist movement by creating a convention-bending line of costumes for The Australian Ballet’s Divergence. Tutus were made out of the mesh from air-conditioning ducts and were sent to an automotive painter to stain them black. Her designs resonated, zeitgeist-like, with Gaultier’s cones for Madonna when she turned car upholstery into breastplates and fashioned a breathtaking female shape." Photo Credit: BehindBallet.com

Liz Goldwyn’s Underwater Ballet: The director of Pretty Things, a burlesque documentary, turns her lens on the Juan Carlos Obando-clad ballerina Deanna Beasom.


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    Jan 7, 2011, 04.26 PMby Shannon Kramp

    Rodarte designed 40 costumes total for the movie’s entire ballet corps. Amy Westcott is the costume designer for Black Swan. Westcott and director Darren Aronofsky wanted to use a modern designer to reinvent ‘Swan Lake’. I believe they chose Laura and Kate Mulleavy due to Portman’s suggestion, she is a friend and client of the designers. It was a great decision since Laura and Kate Mulleavy take much inspiration from ballet and horror films which are both elements in the film.

    The movie is incredible and is racking up many nominations including four Golden Globe nominations. I have to admit my opinion is extremely bias since I’m a huge fan of Darren Aronofsky and Rodarte. Thank you for sharing this article!

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    Jan 6, 2011, 05.53 AMby kelepso

    Great article. Love the inspiration and fashion!

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    Jan 5, 2011, 11.45 PMby Shani Cortez Limbu

    THAT WAS JUST WOOOOW !! I love Ballet Dancers & i espically love the Video :) :)

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    Jan 5, 2011, 09.13 PMby misslivia

    I am trained as a classical ballerina and absolutely loved this post! I am currently working on a ballet inspired cocktail dress and have made my own classical tutu. I love the images you posted, thanks!

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    Jan 5, 2011, 02.58 PMby marcy harriell | oonaballoona

    great post as always alison!

    i love the shapes in the very first collage, top left corner— which designer is that?

    hubs and i went to see “the hard nut” at bam for christmas, and although it’s my favorite ballet, i found myself staring at the costume construction!

    1 Reply
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      Jan 10, 2011, 02.59 PMby burdastyle

      Hi Oona!
      In answer to your question about the models at top right of the collage— I forgot that credit, and here it is: Dujour Magazine: Such a Cheeky Life: Ballerinas.

  • Alterknits-dress-form_large

    Jan 5, 2011, 07.07 AMby littlemisssew

    I want a ballet inspired dress!

    I always had a thing for tu-tu’s :)

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    Jan 5, 2011, 05.08 AMby tasallison

    i have never understood ballerinas, who wants life to be that structured!

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    Jan 5, 2011, 04.50 AMby amandahaas

    I love Black Swan, it is a must see. Top 5 favorite movies on 2010. Gave me a lot of inspiration for everything.

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    Jan 4, 2011, 11.30 PMby Dibaj

    Beautiful dream

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    Jan 4, 2011, 08.38 PMby janul

    I´m so looking forward to seeing Black swan! Aronofsky + ballet = great combination! :) And I like films about dance… I think ballet inspiration is everywhere, skirts and most of all – ballet flats! We just want to look like those etheral dancers, I guess :)

    2 Replies
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Jan 4, 2011, 10.05 PMby alisondahl

      I love films about dancers too, and films about the theater like The Red Shoes, Topsy-Turvy, The Dresser, and Mrs. Henderson Presents… all fantastic glimpses into the world of theater and dance.

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      Jan 5, 2011, 10.11 AMby carottesauvage

      “The Black Swan’ release is eagerly expected in the UK. It should be good. Even the BFI has banners all over with Natalie Portman sporting her swannie make up on. Great Winona Ryder is in the cast!Powell and Pressburger’s Red shoe as suggested is such a great watch. I also suggest Robert Altman’s The Company . I remember watching Pina Bausch videos (Komm tanz mit mir and Cafe Muller) while doing improvisation dance during sport sessions in high school-don’t know how it got to be part of the cursus, but that was fun . No body obsession involved there (usually attached to classical ballet). But tulle fabric is the unsung performance.What a tutu be without it? Makes me feel like using this fabric more

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    Jan 4, 2011, 04.10 PMby vintagegal

    Here is a You-Tube link on the costuming for the film-interviews with the costume designer, and the Mulleavy sisters. Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie yet!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vhKni99QkwA

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    Jan 4, 2011, 01.54 PMby wackyblonde

    I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet on three occasions. The Nutcracker Suite, The Sleeping Beauty with Karen Kain and Swan Lake. They were amazing performances and the costumes were stunning.

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    Jan 4, 2011, 08.52 AMby loyl8

    soo beautiful!!! I am still waiting to go see black swan maybe for my birthday

  • Image_large

    Jan 4, 2011, 08.52 AMby loyl8

    soo beautiful!!! I am still waiting to go see black swan maybe for my birthday

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    Jan 4, 2011, 05.05 AMby Jamie Lau

    The tutu of the Vanessa Leyonhjelm piece is amazing!

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    Jan 4, 2011, 03.17 AMby wzrdreams

    I really enjoyed Black Swan. It made me want to knit a bunch of gauzy wraps and shrugs. Does anyone know to what extent Rodarte was involved with the costumes? Was it just the ballet costumes, or the costumes for the entire movie?

    1 Reply
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      Jan 5, 2011, 02.34 AMby redrosesews

      I’ve heard it was the costumes for the entire movie, like the leotards they practice in and the formal gown she wears in one scene. I can’t wait to see those designs!

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    Jan 4, 2011, 01.56 AMby sewcalgal

    I haven’t seen the movie Black Swan, but will try to find a copy soon. Thanks.


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    Jan 3, 2011, 11.29 PMby mynameisdavid

    Black Swan is one of the best movies I’ve EVER seen! Natalie Portman was mesmerizing, and her costumes were amazing!

    3 Replies
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Jan 4, 2011, 03.59 PMby alisondahl


    • Momooo_large

      Jan 5, 2011, 05.22 AMby variantvi

      YES It was amazing. At the end I didn’t even notice my jaw was dropped and All I could say was “wow” The gown Natalie wears in one scene is also very pretty.

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      Jan 5, 2011, 07.06 AMby littlemisssew

      I’ve been waiting to see it since the first news about the making came…^^
      Now,I’m patient untill the rushes in the
      movies stop so I can go see it…wuuuh :)

    • This is a question
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