Christian Lacroix ballet costumes on display

Christian Lacroix ballet designs go on display in France

Chrisitan Lacroix, great French couturier who has become a designer of costumes for theatre, opera and ballet, created the sumptuous costumes for the ballet La Source, given at the Opéra national de Paris in the autumn of 2011.

Now these sumptous costumes are presented in an exhibition organized by Christian Lacroix in partnership with the CNCS – “The Centre national du costume de scène et de la scénographie”. The exhibition lets visitors see the costumes designed by Lacroix for La Source, a work in a wide range of styles and materials including tutus in Japanese organza, tunics and loose pants made from vintage saris, ethnic dresses and accessories adorned with Swarovski crystal.

This classical ballet, which disappeared from the repertoire of the Opéra at the end of the 19th century, tells the story of the sacrifice of Naïla, spirit of the source, for the love of the hunter Djemil and his beautiful Nouredda.

These costumes, of refined neo-classical style for the fantasy roles, tinted with orientalism and shimmering colors for the folk characters, bear witness to the dream world of Christian Lacroix. He spoke about this during the preparation of the ballet in the costume workshops of the Opéra national de Paris, saying, “I wanted to give the impression that these costumes, as well as the ballet, had come out of a long sleep with their freshness and memories, and, in addition to have the rustic aspects contrast with the opulence of the brocades, ornaments and jewels.”

The ballet is a succession of nymphs in romantic tutus made of Japanese organza (one of the lightest fabrics in the world); of odalisques draped in tunics and loose pants made from old saris; of Caucasian women as “Russian dolls”, in their ethnic dresses, and Caucasian men in coats inspired by traditional clothing but given new color with the palette of Christian Lacroix; costumes and tiaras decorated with Swarovski crystals.

Transported to the heart of the costume workshops at the Palais Garnier, the CNCS reveals (the exhibition opens June 16 and runs through December 31), room by room the different costumes of the characters in the ballet, retracing for each one the stages of development, technical research and artistic interest. Display cases and rooms aredecorated with the sources of inspiration for Christian Lacroix (documents, photographs and historic items of clothing), maquettes which he drew for each character as well as patterns, fabric samples, dye tests and prototypes.