Fashion+Dance: a long-standing love affair

Musings over Angelin Preljocaj’s Dance costumes exhibition at the National Centre for Scene Costumes in Moulins, France

(October 3rd, 2015 – March 6th, 2016)

When during my graduation year at ESIT, in Paris, I had to choose a subject for my graduation thesis – which consisted in creating a terminological dictionary about a technical sector of our choice – I decided to deal with stage costumes and, in particular, with dance costumes.


Being a balletomane and living in Paris, the home town of the most famed dance company and the biggest and most prestigious ballet house in the world – Opera de Paris – I was really excited about exploring such a domain.


During the months I spent reading plenty of books in the fascinating setting of Bibliothèque Fornay I discovered wonderful technical details about scene costumes and I also had the enormous chance to enter Palais Garnier and be guided through the huge stock of scene costumes owned by Opéra de Paris.


It was then that I learned how deep is the relationship between fashion and dance and between art and dance.


Later I read the wonderful Les Ballets Russes – Quand l’art danse avec la musique exhibition catalogue , which details the partnerships that Mr Diaghilev, the company’s impresario, succeeded in building with various artists of his time like Cocteau, Picasso, Léon Bakst, Sonia Delaunay and Coco Chanel.

Costumes designed by Coco Chanel for Ballets Russes’ The Blue Train – foto sourced from
Costumes designed by Coco Chanel for Ballets Russes’ The Blue Train – foto sourced from


Diaghilev was a real pioneer in many repects, including his building of creative bridges between dance and other forms of art.


Valerie Steele’s Dance & Fashion exhibition held at Museum at FIT (September 13th, 2014 – January 3rd, 2015) and the related book illustrate the uninterrupted dialogue that dance has been carrying on with Fashion during the 20th and 21st Centuries as exemplified by the work of designers such as Alexander Mc Queen for Sylvie Guillem’s Eonnagata, Jean Paul Gaultier for Angelin Preljocaj’s Snow White, Valentino for the New York City Ballet and many more.


Jean-Paul Gaultier for Angelin Preljocaj's White Snow
Jean-Paul Gaultier for Angelin Preljocaj’s White Snow


Alexander McQueen for Sylvie Guillem's Eonnagata
Alexander McQueen for Sylvie Guillem’s Eonnagata


McQueen's sketch for Eonnagata
McQueen’s sketch for Eonnagata


Valentino for The New York City Ballet
Valentino for The New York City Ballet


Today Angelin Preljocaj, Costumes de Danse exhibition highlights once more the strong relationship between these two arts, both of which have a strong tie with the body: Dance tames and shapes the body of dancers, at the same time liberating it by giving the dancer a powerful means to express his/her creative push; Fashion covers the body but, like dance, gives people the power to define themselves from an aesthetical point of view. Moreover, if dance makes the body more harmonious and powerful, fashion enhances and sets off its beauty.


There are many parallels between Fashion and Dance and the way in which choreographers and designers have worked together, as in the case of Preljocaj with e.g. Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaïa shows the inherent link between these two worlds.


Another parallel can be built between the challenge that dancers have to face to defeat gravity and the limits of their own body and the challenge the designers face when creating costumes that merge aesthetics with a dance-proof wearability.


The Preljocaj exhibit highlights all those aspects of the long-standing love affair between these two forms of art through a series of rooms in which the actual stage costumes are shown next to videos showing them worn by dancers on stage.


What would Fashion be without the soul that the moving body instills in it? And how poor whould our body language be without Fashion heightening each of our movements and gestures?


Dance is the ultimate expression of movement and when those sublime movements are coupled by sublime designer costumes the resulti s pure magic and lasting emotion.


Azzedine Alaïa for Angelin Preljocaj's Les Nuits
Azzedine Alaïa for Angelin Preljocaj’s Les Nuits


Thank you for having followed me in this little journey through Fashion&Dance.



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