Sarah Jessica Parker Notes Requirements for Designing NYC Ballet Costumes

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Sarah Jessica Parker

Carolina Herrera, Sarah Burton, Thom Browne and Mary Katrantzou kicked off the fall season in style onstage

"Fashion always starts with a fantasy and a dream, but that dream has to become a reality," said Carolina Herrera in a behind-the-scenes clip that aired in the David H. Koch Theater at the beginning of the New York City Ballet's fall gala, which kicked off the company's four-week fall season on Tuesday night and celebrates the newly minted tradition of pairing fashion with dance on the Upper West Side.

It's a task unfamiliar to even the most seasoned Fashion Week face, but the classic designer contributed new costumes — ruffle-trimmed, cleverly embellished chiffon dresses of different colors and length, plus loose gray tops and black pants — especially for Peter Martins' 10-movement piece "Morgen," which premiered in 2001. Following the refreshed performance, Herrera stood onstage with the six dancers, dressed in what began as a conversation and a sketch.

What are the requirements for a designer to leap from the runway to the ballet? Turns out, there are none. "We welcome everybody — you never know who a choreographer is going to want to work with," Sarah Jessica Parker told The Hollywood Reporter while chatting with Andy Cohen and Scott Whitman at the lantern-laden cocktail reception. Each year, the handpicked designers work with NYCB director of costumes Marc Happel to make their ideas movement-friendly. "We don't care whether you're emerging or established, and that's the beauty of supporting a company like this. It will grow and will continue — please, God! — to have one of these every year. There's a whole future out there for young designers, and I'm excited about it."

Though the actress is a vice chair of the NYCB board of directors and again served as event chairman for the annual fashion-and-dance cross-section she helped launch in 2012, she has no say in selecting the designers who then cross over to costumes; she does help facilitate introductions, if necessary. "These collaborations, often they've never met and sometimes they will never meet," she told reporters, noting that Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton never traveled to New York to outfit Liam Scarlett's dancers. "[These choreographers] have an idea in their head, they think about the music and they think about this outside layer, and that helps tell their story."

Following Herrera's ballet costume debut and a reprise of Christopher Wheeldon’s This Bitter Earth, which was first performed at the 2012 fall gala with costumes by Valentino Garavani, Troy Schumacher premiered the playful and nostalgic "Clearing Dawn," with sequences of schoolyard fights and sudden hugs. Thom Browne outfitted the six dancers in oversize peacoats (with attached mittens) that floated up to reveal uniform-inspired costumes of gray blazers, shorts and pleated skirts with white trim, dark vests and ties.

Scarlett's premiere of the impassioned duet "Funerailles" dressed the company's newlyweds Robert Fairchild and Tilar Peck in Burton's black looks with gold details: a knee-length jacket and a strapless corset gown with tattered gradient layers. The night closed with the premiere of NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck's "Belles-Lettres," with four women and five men, led by Anthony Huxley, soaring in flesh-toned bodysuits and long tulle skirts by Mary Katrantzou, decorated in subtle pastel and dark-colored lace appliques cut out as alphabet letters and arranged into unique configurations.

Parker wore a vertically patterned top and skirt by Katrantzou to the event. "She's really smart — I love the way she deals with textures and patterns, she's not afraid of anything, and she's her own unique vision," she told reporters of her look's creator while on the red carpet. She also posed with fine jewelry designer Cindy Chao while holding their co-designed Black Label Masterpiece ballerina butterfly brooch, which will be auctioned to benefit the NYCB.

Alongside Parker, Cohen stayed poised all evening in a tux. "I try to behave myself, because I like to get invited back," he joked while out on the Lincoln Center Plaza. "I try to save the crazy for concerts!"

Also in attendance were Nate Berkus, Ivanka Trump, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Lydia Hearst, Jordan Roth, Jonathan Tisch, Arden Wohl, Wendi Murdoch and Indre Rockefeller, among others.

Last year, the company collaborated with Prabal Gurung, Oliver Theyskens and Iris van Herpen.

All five fashion-friendly ballets will also be performed on Oct. 2, Oct. 7, Oct. 9 and Oct. 11 (evening).

Twitter: @cashleelee

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