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Upcoming Exhibitions

Balmain dress

Dance & Fashion

Special Exhibitions Gallery

September 13, 2014 - January 3, 2015


Balmain evening gown, tulle and taffeta, c.1956, France, gift of Mrs. F. Leval, 84.125.5
Dance & Fashion explores the relationship between two great embodied art forms: dance and fashion. Dance has utilized a wide variety of costumes, including contemporary fashions, to identify different characters, but there are also certain iconic styles, which represent a dance more abstractly. Tutus and pointe shoes, for example, are integral to the image and movements of the ballerina, just as leotards and tights are associated with the modern dancer.

Traditionally, dance costumes were created by dancers (such as Martha Graham), artists (such as Léon Bakst), and costume designers (such as Karinska).  But in recent years, fashion designers have increasingly been invited to create dance costumes. For example, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino designed for the ballet and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons provided costumes for Merce Cunningham. Fashion designers have also been inspired by the dance. Christian Dior loved the tutus of Romantic ballerinas, while the shoe designer Christian Louboutin has transformed pointe shoes into fetishistic high heels. The focus of this exhibition, organized by Dr. Valerie Steele, is on ballet and modern dance, but other dance forms, such as tango, flamenco, and stepping are featured.

Read more about the exhibition here.

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