Dance & Fashion

An Exploration of the Synergy Between two Separate yet Interlinking Art forms

Ballet’s tutus and pointe shoes have influenced countless designers, including Christian Dior and Christian Louboutin. The influence of the dramatic Flamenco can be seen in the works of designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. The lines between dance and fashion have become increasingly blurred, spurring on the director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Valerie Steele, to explore this intersection further.

I noticed that fashion designers were increasingly being invited to design dance costumes, and I realized that no one had really explored the relationship between the two embodied art forms.

The book, Dance and Fashion, contains contributions from many of Valerie’s colleagues and curators at The Museum at FIT, including FIT dean, Dr. Mary Davis. The project took 18 months to complete, and involved research, picture research, and the acquisition of objects for the accompanying exhibition which features nearly 100 dance costumes and dance inspired pieces.

We asked Valerie more about the meshing of these two worlds:

The Plus: We noticed that there is a strong ballet theme in the book.
Valerie Steele:
Ballet is the dominant genre of performance dance and the one, which has had the greatest influence on fashion — although modern dance is also very important.

TP: Was there something that surprised you to learn about the intersection of dance and fashion?
I didn’t realize that Odille did not appear as the Black Swan until many decades after Swan Lake was first danced

TP: The book contains essays of ten fashion experts. How did you decide who would contribute?
Talking about the project with other colleagues, I found that several were independently working on related themes: For example, Masafumi Monden had just written an essay and was willing to take it further.

TP: Do you have a favourite/ stand out image in the book? -if so, why?
I like our cover image, because Iris Van Herpen has created such an unusual and strikingly new ballet costume.

Dance and Fashion, edited by Valerie Steele, is available in the UK from 30th October, on Yale University Press.