Ballerina will be the first large-scale exhibition to illustrate the influences of classical ballet and its most celebrated practitioners – ballerinas - on modern high fashion throughout history. Although ballet is a centuries-old art form that consistently reflected and absorbed prevailing fashions, it was not until the 20th century that this dance form took its place in Western culture and began to influence many areas of creativity, including fashion. At the same time, the ballerina blossomed into a revered figure of beauty and glamour, and her signature costume—the corseted tutu—inspired many of fashion’s leading designers for the first time.
The exhibition presents objects that reflect this phenomenon, from tutu-inspired haute couture gowns to American ready-to-wear designs based on leotards and other ballet practice clothing. Dating mainly from the 1930s to the early 1980s, the approximately 90 objects were selected from MFIT’s permanent collection and from British institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London, and the Fashion Museum Bath. Many of these objects will be on view in the United States for the first time.