Dior Designer Debuts Ballet Costumes at Rome Show Dedicated to Philip Glass

Courtesy of Julien Benhamou

Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of the luxury fashion house, designed 16 costumes for the 'Nuit Blanche' performance at the Opera House.

Maria Grazia Chiuri returned to her hometown of Rome on Thursday night to present her original costumes for the Nuit Blanche ballet, part of a multi-part dance performance dedicated to influential Academy Award-nominated American composer Philip Glass that runs through April 2 at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.

Glass has written numerous operas, symphonies, concertos, musical theatre pieces, and other chamber music, as well as film scores. His work earned him a Golden Globe for The Truman Show in 1998 (in which he has a cameo, performing at a piano) and a BAFTA Award for The Hours in 2002.

The Dior artistic director collaborated with dancer Eleonora Abbagnato, who stars in the performance, on the exclusive designs. Dance has long been a part of the Christian Dior heritage. Dior himself designed the wedding dress of Royal Ballet star Margot Fonteyn in 1955. And Chiuri has frequently presented her interpretation of the art of movement, both in how dance has influenced couture, and in how its feminine culture can be translated to elegant comfort on the runway.

She dedicated her spring-summer 2019 ready-to-wear fashion collection to pioneers of dance, including Isadora Duncan, Pina Bausch and Loie Fuller. The September runway show had dancers leaping alongside models in a powerful performance choreographed by Sharon Eyal as rose petals fell from the ceiling. And Dior ballet shoe pumps and flats, corps-de-ballet gowns and fluid bodysuits and tights continue to be some of the most coveted fashion purchases of the year from the luxury house.

Chiuri designed sixteen costumers for the show, each a play on light and fluidity through her favorite fabrics – tulle and knits. While the final pieces echo her latest runway work, she focused on the technical and aesthetic requirements of dancewear to create functional yet jaw-dropping pieces that drew grand applause from the audience.

Abbagnato, who is currently prima ballerina at the Paris Opera Ballet, appears alongside Friedemann Vogel, principal dancer of the Stuttgart Ballet, both wearing ivory. She danced in a full skirt featuring heritage Dior silk flowers encased in two layers of tulle to resemble flowers dried between the pages of a book. 

The ballet corps wore black tulle over a spectrum of powdery colors, giving the performance an ethereal quality that perfectly punctuated the music of Glass. The dancers will also appear in a new Dior advertising campaign, further celebrating the fashion house’s strong connection between ballet and fashion.

“I’ve admired Eleonora Abbagnato’s work for years,” said Chiuri in a statement. “She is an extraordinary artist who has worked hard to achieve her goals. She represents a great source of inspiration for a new generation of women. Her career, much like mine, was forged between Italy and France, which brings the two of us even closer together.”

The event drew in a crowd of Italian stars to see the performance, including fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni, fencer Beatrice Vio, and actresses Isabella Uguccioni, Sara Serraiocco and Isabella Ferrari, all dressed in the latest Dior.

Nuit Blanche, choreographed by Sebastien Bertaud, can be seen nightly through April 2 as part of the Philip Glass Evening.  Other ballets in the event, which is conducted by Carlo Donadio, included Hearts and Arrows, choreographed by Benjamin Millepied, and Glass Pieces, choreographed by Jerome Robbins.

Guests Beatrice Vio, Chiara Ferragni and Sara Serraiocco in Dior.