Museum at FIT Explores Relationship Between Dance and Fashion

Costumes by Tara Subkoff for Underland (2011) by Stephen Petronio Company
(© Sarah Silver Photography)

Where high fashion meets art is oftentimes on the stage — and ballerinas have been known to pirouette in costumes designed by Yves Saint Laurent, Riccardo Tisci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Christian Lacroix, to name just a few.

Marc Happel of the New York City Ballet is one costume director that has said his costumes have been inspired by fashions designed by Dior and Balenciaga. Meanwhile, Paris-based designer Rick Owens was so enamored by African-American step dancers that he had them perform on his Spring 2014 catwalk.

This September, “Dance & Fashion” at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is exploring how designs have translated from the runway to the stage, or how the stage inspires the runway. 

Featuring almost 100 exquisite costumes from the 19th Century to the present day, including classical Romantic ballet tutus from the 1830s and African-Caribbean-inspired costumes for contemporary dancers, highlights of the exhibition include: a couture ensemble from Yves Saint Laurent’s 1976 Ballets Russes collection; a costume from Merce Cunningham’s Scenario designed by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons juxtaposed with a CDG “bump” dress, which in turn inspired the dance costume; a flamenco dress and a selection of flamenco-inspired dresses by designers such as Cristóbal Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Paquin, Oscar de la Renta, and Ralph Lauren; as well as costumes worn by famous dancers such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev

Not forgetting the accessories, the pointe shoes of prima ballerinas Anna Pavlova and Margot Fonteyn will be juxtaposed with high-fashion styles by Christian Louboutin and Noritaka Tatehana that were inspired by ballet shoes.

“Dance & Fashion,” September 13 to January 3, 2015, the Museum at FIT, New York. Click here to preview some highlights.