Culture Spotlight: Couture for NYC Ballet

Fashion month may be on it’s way to Paris, but tonight top designers are returning to Lincoln Center as the New York City Ballet (NYCB) kick’s off the season with it’s Fall Gala, an evening pairing the ballets with specially commissioned costumes by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Mary Katrantzou, Thom Browne, Carolina Herrera, and Valentino Garavani.  An idea of none other than Sarah Jessica Parker, the vice chairman of the ballet’s board of directors, the recent years of designer-choreographer collaborations timed to have included Rodarte in 2012 and Prabal Gurung, Iris van Herpen and Oliver Theyskens in 2013.

Each year the selected designers work closely with the choreographers, interpreting the music and movements to create costumes that emulate and enhance the feel of the individual performances. NYCB costume director Marc Happel and the in-house design studio lend their expertise to ensure their concepts are not only executed conceptually and aesthetically, but allow for the movement essential to the ballet dancer’s performance.

NYC’s Museum at FIT is currently looking at the historic relationship between the arts of fashion and dance in ‘Dance & Movement,’ an exhibition tracing costume collaborations back to the early 19th century.  On show through January 3, 2015, the show features over 100 designs including Yves Saint Laurent’s couture ensemble for the Ballets Russes in 1976, Givenchy’s Riccardo Tischi and Christian Lacroix for the Paris Opera Ballet, and a costume from Merce Cunningham’s ‘Scenario’ designed by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.

The NYCB designer costume collaborations will be in performances at the Fall Gala, September 23rd, and performed again on October 2 at 7:30 p.m., October 7 at 7:30 p.m., and October 11 at 8 p.m.

‘Dance & Movement’ at the Special Exhibitions Gallery at the Museum at FIT is on display from September 13, 2014 through January 3, 2015.  A two-day symposium will accompany the exhibition on October 23 and 24.

About the Author

Sarah Bertness is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer covering the arts, music, fashion and culture. She has a love for all things avant-garde, late night rock and roll, wanderlust, and a good dose of fringe and gold sequins. You can follow her musings on Twitter and Instagram @sarahbertness.