BALLET HAS INSPIRED COUNTLESS CAMPAIGNS AND EDITORIALS. FROM THE DISASTROUS FREE PEOPLE CAMPAIGN FROM LAST YEAR, TO THE GLORIOUS 'RED LADY' PHOTOSHOOT IN VOGUE RUSSIA, BALLET HAS FREQUENTLY TAKEN CENTRE STAGE IN FASHION. ALTHOUGH IT DOESN'T ALWAYS GO ACCORDING TO PLAN...
If we have learned anything from the Free People debacle of last year, it’s that using ballet related imagery in fashion lookbooks can be a minefield. As Free People undoubtedly learned the hard way, use non-dancers at your pearl, especially if you are going to be incredibly literal, such as having your models do some approximation of ballet or go en pointe. In one fell swoop the very market they were trying to appeal to were offended en masse.
However, that was definitely an extreme case and ballet has been used countless times as inspiration for editorials and, more often than not, executed beautifully. Put a barre in an editorial and my attention is piqued almost immediately. On a personal level, it speaks to me as a dancer but also because I can tell immediately what the vibe of the clothing is most likely going to be. The narrative is set without me even having to see anything. It could be argued that that’s because ballet cliches come thick and fast in most ballet related editorials or lookbooks, so it can be easily predicated. Tulle - check; wrap around tops - check; hues of pale grey and pointe shoe pink - check; hairbands - check. But the fact is, watch classes from World Ballet Day (I highly recommend it) and you’ll see those things are very much still present in the real ballet world. The romantic ballerina of the past is actually not that different from the dancers of now. Delicate hairbands control wayward hair from pirouette whipped buns, shades of pastels are omnipresent in the plethora of Yumiko leotards and angular hips are caressed with the wispiest of chiffons. It's that presence of delicacy in even the most athletic of dancers that makes ballet so enthralling. It’s little wonder it’s proven inspiration for so many designers and magazine editors.
Recently, I came across the gorgeous imagery from the Isabel Marant Etoile AW15/16 campaign , which has a ballet narrative running through it. It features models, yes, but without resorting to making them attempt to dance. There is a real male dancer present, lending the campaign gravitas.
The clothes themselves have the typical Marant insouciance and don’t obviously or directly reference ballet. Needless to say I would wear most of them in a heartbeat.