Raising the Barre: Ballet-inspired fashion
Bairbre Power on this spring’s love affair with the ballerina
Published 22/01/2011 | 05:00
The release of the movie 'Black Swan' this weekend will start a graceful rush to embrace ballet- influenced fashion. The TV series 'Mad Men' turned our heads and set us on a retro, lady-like style journey over the past year, and now it seems fashion fiends are headed to the ballet, inspired by the ethereal costumes in Darren Aronofsky's new movie starring Natalie Portman.
'Swan Lake' styling emerged over the past few seasons and feathered ostrich skirts won us over, with Jason Wu and Collette Dinnigan's exotic pieces and the high street delivering affordable versions.
Now, with the release of 'Black Swan', we can brace ourselves for a 'corps de ballet', with trendsetters lining out in everything from tutus, leg warmers and ballet pumps to those cropped, cross-over cardis you might remember from childhood days practising pliés.
Natalie Portman is completely in love with ballet -- she is engaged to Benjamin Millepied, principal dancer with the New York Ballet -- and the prima ballerina trend will continue to dominate the glossies.
Emily Blunt also plays a ballerina in 'The Adjustment Bureau', and you might even like to try out the new fitness craze, Pure Barre, while sporting your new ballet wardrobe. It uses the ballet barre to perform small isometric movements to change your body, with results promised in 10 classes.
While the super-talented Mulleavy sisters, Laura and Kate, from Rodarte designed the clothes for the movie, J Mendel and Oscar de la Renta subsequently dressed Natalie for fashion shoots.
Seduced by these high-end designer looks, the high street has interpreted them well and you can work the look at various levels.
Shy but curious types should opt for level one, with simple feathered adornments for the hair and flat ballet pumps. Valentino, Chloé and Donna Karan all featured floaty, pleated chiffon and crepe-jersey gowns this season.
These fabrics are pricey, but there are lots of high-street takes coming through from brands such as Fever London, and BCBG Max Azria, and Lipsy of London is due to introduce tutu-inspired skirts and dresses this season.
Feeling more confident about channelling your inner Margot Fonteyn? Level two allows you to explore ballet separates such as pastel-coloured leotards and bodysuits, which are cute with this season's must-have wide-legged trousers or more casual at weekends with jeans or relaxed pants.
Inspired by 'Swan Lake', David Koma's catwalk models wore structured bodices, while Erdem's footwear resembled the dancers' slippers with ribbons tied at the ankle. Be warned, the ribbon-up-the-leg look really only works if you have slim pins.
American Apparel at the bottom of Grafton Street has a good selection of basic ballet pieces, including a petticoat slip skirt (€70) in blush peach or white. The latter looks cool with a gathered-waist skirt, which has a double layer of pink chiffon (€42).
The peach woven skirt in pique (polo-shirt fabric) is ideal for summer wear and also costs €42. Complete the look with cotton Spandex leotards in deep pink -- there's a sleeveless lace version (€40) or a peach one in cotton for €26.
Dance World in Dublin's Ranelagh and Parnell Street stocks adult-size ballet apparel, but if you don't think you can carry off the stirrup leg-warmers or the 'theatrical pink' regulation tights (€12.50), then the fishtail georgette skirt (€20) or the longer wrap skirt (€32) can be easily introduced to your wardrobe. The Bloch teacher shoes are pumps with a slight heel -- très chic at €45.
If you want to go the whole hog, try multi-layered, sheer tulle in girlie shades of peachy pink and baby blue. Carrie Bradshaw rocked a 1990s version of the tutu in 'Sex and the City', but with mixed success. With midi hemlines in vogue, this year is a good time to opt for the longer, three-quarter-length 'bell' style.
If you are determined to get a short tutu, however, the Bloch version at Dance World comes in black or white (€40).
If you are working the dark eye make-up from the movie, you can afford to lighten up with sheer, diaphanous materials. Explore shades from the nude palette again this season and seek out lots of peachy tones, which are so good with Celtic complexions.
Start with a peach bra (€8, Penneys) and work your way out to a jacket such as the lovely leather biker look from M&S's Autograph collection. Add depth by drawing in complementary shades of mocha and contrast sheer chiffons with crêpe de chine and silk satin.