Exhibition Journal: Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

While not technically not a fashion exhibition, this show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in 2013 is one of my all-time favorites.  I’ve said before that it you want to really understand the fashions of the Teens and Twenties, you have to look at the work that was done by the costumers and set designers of the Ballets Russes.  Scheherazade,first performed by the Ballets Russes in 1910 that set off a fad for Orientalism in fashion that lasted into the 1920s.  Even the great couturier Paul Poiret was influenced by the movement, even though he downplayed it in his autobiography.

So much of the beauty of the Ballet Russes costumes is in the attention to detail.  In my journal I made a border of the ones I found to be the most interesting, and in the center, on a piece of translucent paper, I drew Sonia Delaunay’s magnificent costume for the 1918 production of Cleopatra.



Filed under Journal, Museums

2 responses to “Exhibition Journal: Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

  1. I had the great good fortune to see the Surreal Things exhibition at the Victoria and Albert in London in 2007, and it had a fair number of costumes from Ballets Russes, particularily those for the Triadic Ballet (Oskar Schlemmer). I did not think to make drawings as excellent as yours.


  2. Our library had a documentary on Ballets Russes with interviews of their youngest members, being the ones still alive at that time. It was fascinating to watch, particularly from the costume point of view. Sorry I missed that DC exhibit. Thank you for sharing from your journal!


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