Ballets Russes: The Art of Costume (exhibition)

I’m very excited about the new exhibition that opens in Canberra this Friday – if you’ve read my book Love Vintage, you will have noticed that I consider Sergei Diaghilev’s early twentieth century ballet company to be one of the major turning points of modern fashion – the exotic Orientaliste designs inspired a major cultural swing from soft and feminine pastels to exciting and rich lush fabrics and colours of the East. Diaghilev collaborated with many major artists and designers of the time including Picasso, Dali, Cocteau, Chanel, Gontcharova, Bakst and Matisse.

One of the world’s richest collections of costumes from the famed Ballets Russes resides at the National Gallery of Australia and will be on display …through 140 costumes from 34 productions from 1909 to 1939, the vivid and innovative dance design of the early 20th century will be brought to life on the 100th anniversary of the Ballets Russes.

What: Ballets Russes: The Art of Costume.
When: 10 December 2010 – 20 March 2011, 10.00 am – 5.00 pm every day
Where: The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
Cost: Adult $20, Concession / Member $15, Children $5

More information can be found at the National Gallery of Australia’s website.

Léon Bakst Costume for the Blue God c 1912 (detail) worn by Nijinksky
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 1987

I once saw this costume on display at the NGV, I think it was 1991 – and sneakily peeked inside the neckline when no one was looking – the lining is still stained with the blue make up that the wonderful Nijinsky wore when he danced all those years ago.

Might have to book a trip to our country’s capital city I think.

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One comment

  1. How fabulous. The Blue God costume anticipates Baz Luhrmann’s Orientalism (in his “Midsummer Night’s Dream”) by 80+ years…

    The 20th-century writer and illustrator Osbert Lancaster did a witty take on Ballets Russes style in his book, “Home Sweet Homes”, c.1939. Highly recommend Lancaster’s books for his insights into period design and social taste.

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