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Dries does ballet [& Bowie]

With fashion month over and the “onslaught of apparel,” as Cathy Horyn would say, halted for the next 6 months, we here at the Vault will be revisiting our favorite collections of the F/W 11 season, mining the best of the best for vintage inspiration, fun and folly. As a proven fan of the opulent and the exotic, it should come as no surprise that Dries Van Noten’s F/W 11 collection was inspired by such rare birds as David Bowie and Ballets Russes dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Leave it to Van Noten’s deft hand with melding seemingly disparate influences to make us note, with surprise, that the two are not so different after all.  Bowie was as much a fan of full-body leotards as your average ballet dancer, and not shy about showing a little thigh– so photographs of him in the Ziggy Stardust period, purportedly Dries’ reference, read like a 70s version of the early 1910s-20s photographs of Nijinsky, with more makeup.  Of course, the collection was less about leotards [there were none] and more about attitude, movement, color, and print- the extravagance of Bowie and the Ballets Russes combined to create wholly modern clothing, and epitomizing Van Noten’s signature brand of brazen elegance.

Stylesight’s Daily Chronicles review of the show wisely mentioned the influence of Russian constructivist artists and textile designers Lyubov Popova and Varvara Stepanova, whose graphic prints and sketches were rendered in both dance costumes and state-produced dresses in the 1920s era of ‘sartorial socialism’ in Russia.

Below, a visual analysis to help connect the vintage dots…


Dries Van Noten F/W 11; sketch by Paul Dukas, 1911


Textile design by Varvara Stepanova 1920s; in her own design; shorts by Picasso, 1919


Dries Van Noten F/W 11; David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, 1970s


Art by Lyubov Popova; art by Varvara Stepanova; sketch by Léon Bakst, 1910s


Dries Van Noten F/W 11; David Bowie early 1970s


David Bowie early 1970s; textile samples by Lyubov Popova early 1920s


Dries Van Noten F/W 11; Ballets Russes program featuring Nijinsky as the Faun, 1912


Dries Van Noten F/W 11; costume sketch for The Sleeping Princess by Léon Bakst, 1921


David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, early 1970s

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