Anna Sui & Les Ballets Russes

New York Fashion Week came to an end yesterday, and while there was a major Halston influence (fashion’s current Patron Saint) evident on the runways– more on that later– the ongoing ballet trend seduced an unlikely suitor in Anna Sui, whose Ballet Russes-inspired collection provided a fresh, graphic spin this classic, oft-cited style.

Eschewing the pale pinks and flowy chiffons of other recent ballet-esque collections (read: Chanel haute couture, Chloé S/S 11), Sui gravitated instead towards her signature 60s/70s-influenced prints incorporating stylized florals, checkerboard motifs, and abstract geos for an aesthetic that was classic Anna. Also inspired in part by British socialite sisters Alice, Jane, and Victoria Ormsby-Gore, who ostensibly purchased a lot of Ballets Russes costumes at a Sotheby’s auction in the late 60s and wore them day and night, Sui’s collection achieved a modern balance; visually extravagant yet grounded in wearable silhouettes for contemporary women.

Below, some costumes culled from throughout Les Ballets Russes’ history to analyze & illustrate Anna’s possible visual references.

Alice Ormsby-Gore, late 60s                                                                           Program, Les Ballets Russes, 1911

Anna Sui A/W 11 (& throughout); Costume sketch by Adrian Feint, 1910s

Costume for the Blue God [“Le Dieu Bleu”], Léon Bakst, 1912

Hat by José Maria Sert, 1919-20

Shorts by Léon Bakst, 1910

Costume sketch by Adrian Feint, circa 1910s-20s

Anna herself; Set sketch by André Dérain for La Boutique Fantastique, 1919-20 Images courtesy of Stylesight and The National Gallery of Australia, currently showing ‘Ballets Russes: The Art of Costume” through March 20, 2011.

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