Fashion Forward: Finding inspiration in ballet
Published: Monday, March 12, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 01:03
After John Galliano's unfortunate anti-Semitic tirade, the fate of Christian Dior fell into the hands of Galliano's collaborator Bill Gaytten. With a renowned design house name like Dior comes high expectations, and unfortunately Gaytten seems to be falling just a little short, at least in the eyes of the fashion elite. When the Christian Dior fall 2012 collection debuted a few weeks ago, The New York Times reported that the Paris house of fashion was settling in a "comfortable place," while the International Herald Tribune said, "It lacked any pizzaz." Vogue.com labeled it a "safe, timeless, fashion-neutral haven for shopping."
The collection may have been safe, but I happened to fall in love with it. I have to admit I'm a little biased. The theme encompassed something that took up half of my life—ballet.
Up until high school, I studied classical ballet, and from it I gained so much more than grace—discipline, concentration, ambition, not to mention my style. Everything from the colors to the textures to the shoes has inspired my style since the moment I donned my first tutu.
Gaytten's looks embraced muted tones of dusty pink, mauve and gray, delivering a sense of soft modernity to the collection. The colors may have lacked vibrancy, but I found it to be a clever take on ballet tones for the fall season. I was first attracted to ballet when I was three years old—and to tell you the truth, it was mostly because of the color palette. Color combinations of pink, nude, white, gray and black still never cease to take my breath away. There's something about ballet hues that is so distinctive—the palette isn't exactly a pastel overload, or too cutesy that it reminds me of Easter eggs. Instead, Gaytten's collection created a soft yet serious mood, much like that of a Degas painting.
The Dior collection showed a smart use of textures. In contrast with the soft tones, Gaytten incorporated leather into many of the pieces. The combination juxtaposed the ladylike looks with a tough, edgy feel. Fun pieces included mauve leather on pink tea-length dresses and blocks of black leather on structured jackets. One of my favorite aspects about ballet is the mélange of different fabrics used in dancewear—leather ballet slippers, satin ribbon, tulle and fuzzy warm-up pieces taught me to mix and match textures. Ballet is perceived to be a pretty and lovely sport (which, by all means, is very true) but it also requires strength to dance. The mix of soft and tough is completely fascinating, both in technique and aesthetics.
I'll never forget the day I found out I could start dancing on pointe. I was 13 years old, and my first fitting felt like a "Harry Potter" scene at Ollivander's wand shop—we went through dozens of pairs to find a perfect match. The moment the first model stepped onto the Dior runway, I couldn't take my eyes off her shoes. They were my absolute favorite aspect of the collection—chunky heels that mimicked the perfect pointe shoe, complete with a box toe and an ankle strap. They were chic and adorable.
To incorporate the graceful, feminine dancer's look into your wardrobe, ballet flats are the perfect place to start. Try various textures like leather, patent or suede. Nude is a chic pick, and black is a great basic to pair with anything. Whether you're going to class or an interview, ballet flats, especially ones from shoe company French Sole, are the perfect choice for any occasion.
For me, the Dior 2012 line accomplished more than cliché chic. Add a ballet element to any design and you'll win my heart. Over time I may have lost my pirouette, but my affinity for pretty pale hues, tulle and anything that embodies a prima ballerina will never fade.