Thursday, 21 October 2010


The A/W 2010 and S/S 2011 catwalks were full of garments inspired by the Ballet Russes, whether directly by ballet, as in the case of Marchesa and Alexis Mabille, or Russia - look to Erdem - or just 1920s society, see Jenny Packham. Whatever the influence, the exhibition in the V&A I introduced earlier has had a huge impact on fashion for the upcoming seasons.
If you wish to recreate this look on the high street, regard ruffles, lace and brocade as a must have. Don't shy away from 1920s inspired cuts such as dropped waists and wrapover coats and choose which direction you wish to take - flamboyant embellishment or simple silhouettes. Don't confuse the two.

Jenny Packham S/S 2011
David Koma S/S 2011

Alexis Mabille Haute Couture A/W 2010

Bora Aksu S/S 2011

Chanel Haute Couture A/W 2010

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


The Victoria and Albert Museum are currently holding an exhibition entitled Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes: 1909 - 1929. A must see for everyone interested in 1920's society, fashions of the time, designer connections to the ballet, or even just ballet purely isolated as a dance form.

The Ballet Russes was pioneered by Sergei Diaghilev, a Russian creative director, artisan and socialite, who took traditional forms of ballet and developed it into a ground-breaking dance company which incorporated Orientalism, high fashion and radical choreography. For theatre, fashion and dance ever since, the Ballet Russes has had a lasting influence.

The biggest designers of the time; Coco Chanel, Paul Poiret and Leon Bakst, were heavily involved in the costume of the Ballet Russes, designing cutting-edge pieces that allowed the dancers freedom of movement whilst simultaneously conveying the story. The heavy Orientalist connotations, influenced by Diaghilev's upbringing, were featured in colour ways, bold patterns and silhouettes. The harem pant, jewelled colours and Art Nouveau patterns brought this theme together - which was aided and abetted by the influx of Japanese artwork throughout the 1920's and the discovery of Tutankhamun in 1922.

The Ballet Russes was a true fashion phenomenon, yet I have realised, not so widely acknowledged by contemporary fashion enthusiasts. Perhaps this is due to its brief life, engulfed by other major events of the 1920's. Although the Ballet Russes continues today, it has not had the impact in fashion that it initially had, however, hopefully the V&A exhibition will highlight the true importance and influence of such an exciting movement.