From Chanel to Gaultier, fashion explores the dance world

A century ago now, Chanel was the first brand to approach dance and revolutionize the Russian ballet. Ever since, the greatest designers have regularly peeked into the ‘laboratory’ of dance to explore bodies and draw inspiration from the world of motion.

In dance, costumes need to both preserve the essence of haute couture and meet practical needs

explains Philippe Noisette, curator of the exhibition “Couturiers de la danse” (“designers of dance”) currently running at the Centre National du Costume de scène et de la Scénographie in Moulins, in the middle of France.

couturiers de la danse

Jersey tracksuits, ‘underwear  pieces’ elevated by Chanel, Baroque dresses by Gianni Versace for the Teatro alla Scala or Maurice Béjart, sailor suits by Jean Paul Gaultier, square tutus by Viktor&Rolf or laser-cut versions by Iris Van Herpen, and Issey Miyake’s pleated pieces for William Forsythe’s ballets: with 120 costumes, the CNCS pays tribute to these prestigious collaborations.

In the ‘laboratory’ of dance, fashion designers cannot but bridle their ego and put it at the service of actors and directors: the stage costumes should not impede movements, nor obscure the choreographies.

Colors are removed for the body to be more visible – that is what stirs emotions. The bodysuits are dyed in the same color as the dancers’ skin

specifies French tailor Adeline André.

She finds that the main restrictions are associated with the fact that dancers sweat heavily, so costumes “need to be washed every day” and fabrics have to be designed so that they do not tear in action.

couturiers de la danse

Today, “dance is everywhere – in urban planning, in cinema… Fashion designers are intrigued by this encounter around the body, this universe of immediacy. And fashion shows have become more and more spectacular, more and more similar to real shows”, points out Delphine Pinasa, director of the CNCS.

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