Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse is a revelatory, irresistible treat for dance aficionados and fashionistas alike. Couturiers such as Balmain, Balenciaga, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Charles James, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent designed ballet-inspired dresses and gowns, many featuring the boned bodices and voluminous tulle skirts of classical tutus. American ready-to-wear designers such as Claire McCardell found inspiration in ballet leotards and other practice clothing, creating knitted separates, bathing suits, and wrap dresses.
Written by fashion and ballet experts, the book is illustrated with archival photography by such masters as Richard Avedon, Edward Steichen, Irving Penn, Man Ray, and Cecil Beaton, along with newly commissioned photography of contemporary ballerinas wearing ballet-influenced couture.
Patricia Mears is deputy director of The Museum at FIT.
Laura Jacobs is a dance critic, fashion writer, and novelist.
Jane Pritchard is curator of Dance, Theatre and Performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.
Rosemary Harden is manager of the Fashion Museum in Bath, England.
Joel Lobenthal is a dance critic.
With their mutual love of beauty, elegance and performance, fashion and ballet have long seemed perfect partners. But, until the early 20th Century, the relationship was decidedly one-sided. Ballet’s lengthy relationship with fashion is … the subject of a new book, Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse by Patricia Mears.
The ballerina occupies a unique place in Western high culture as a symbol of beauty and grace . . . Her influence seeped into the world of fashion as the tutu became a source of inspiration for leading fashion designers. Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse pairs archival photographs of ballerinas with newly commissioned photos of modern ballerinas wearing ballet-influenced couture. The book’s text, written by leading dance and fashion critics, traces the relationship between ballet and fashion and between great ballerinas and designers.
Wall Street Journal
Like two sisters sharing a closet, fashion and ballet have borrowed freely from each other for over a century. . . . It’s fun to document these parallels, as Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse, by Patricia Mears, does in fastidious detail, with a rich assortment of photos.
Though it covers only a short period of time, the book sparks ideas about how ballet continues its relationship with fashion today. A homage to creativity within the arts, both performing and visual, these pages are full of romance, glamour and history and are quite simply, a joy to explore.