Exhibition: Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse — Closes
February 7–April 18, 2020
Ballet took its place in the western pantheon of modern high culture during the interwar years of the twentieth century. The ballerina, the form’s most celebrated practitioner, blossomed into a revered figure of beauty and glamour, and her signature costume—the corseted tutu—inspired many of fashion’s leading designers. Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse will illustrate the influence of classical ballet and ballerinas on high fashion from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. It is being organized by Patricia Mears, deputy director of MFIT.
The popularization of classical ballet owes much to the British and Americans. Imperial Russian classical ballet would become the most popular performing art in the United Kingdom during the 1930s and 1940s, and later, the United States. At its peak, from the early 1930s to mid-century, haute couture looked to classical ballets such as Giselle, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty for aesthetic inspiration. Modern ballets performed in leotards and tights would also influence mid-century American active fashions.
Most of the objects on view will be high fashion garments, ranging from Parisian couture to British custom-made clothing and American ready-to-wear. Also included will be a small selection of ballet costumes and rehearsal clothing that illustrate the connection between dance costume and fashion.