In The Making: Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Exquisite Costumes For The Nuit Blanche Ballet

Last week, the Italian fashion designer helming the French fashion house of Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri, unveiled her costume designs for Nuit Blanche.

The Nuit Blanche was but one of the three ballet acts staged in homage to the renowned composer and musician Philip Glass at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. It was choreographed by the French dancer Sébastien Bertaud and the shows ran through the past weekend.

That marked Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first foray into costume design for Christian Dior.

The house of Dior has long mined ballet for creative inspiration.

In the late 1940s, Monsieur Christian Dior himself collaborated with the ballet director, Roland Petit, on the costumes for the ballet Treize Danses.

An image of Monsieur Christian Dior himself at the Treize Danses in 1947. Image source: Parisen Images via Pinterest.
An image of Monsieur Christian Dior himself at the Treize Danses in 1947. Image source: Parisen Images via Pinterest.

In 1955, he designed the wedding dress for the late English Royal Ballet dancer, Margot Fonteyn.

Last year, Chiuri followed in Dior’s footsteps and took inspiration from the universe of circus, acrobatics, and dance for her Spring 2019 runway show. Industry insiders praised it for the performance art and Chiuri’s spin on dance costumes.

This year round, Chiuri joined hands with a fellow formidable Italian woman, Eleonora Abbagnato, the director of ballet at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Together, the duo created 16 ballet costumes that “focused on new, contemporary definitions of femininity and masculinity, through the use of light, supple materials that best correspond to the technical and aesthetic requirements of dance,” the brand wrote in an official release.

Lead dancers Friedemann Vogel and Eleonora Abbagnato. Image source: Christian Dior.
Lead dancers Friedemann Vogel and Eleonora Abbagnato. Image source: Christian Dior.

“I am delighted and honoured to be able to contribute to the staging of a project that combines so many elements of performance art, including music, choreography, set design and costume design. Here, my work is like a ‘choreographic exercise’ in itself” says Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior costume design sketches for Nuit Blanche. Image source: Christian Dior.
Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior costume design sketches for Nuit Blanche. Image source: Christian Dior.

The maison’s signature ‘Miss Dior’ dress was the point of reference for the costumes. As seen on Abbagnato, knit and tulle were married in a graceful mother-of-pearl shade. Handcrafted silk flowers were then embroidered between the two fabrics — a romantic gesture reminiscent of flowers dried and immortalised between the pages of a book.

Aside from the lead dancers, the rest of the ballet corps were dressed “in a kaleidoscope of powdery hues sheathed in black tulle worked with delicate silk flowers, like an impalpable cloud,” the brand noted.

“We want everything to be harmonious and above all to have a strong emotional impact on the artists themselves,” says Maria Grazia Chiuri in a behind-the-scenes video by Dior. “It’s something that is translated in their movements and then transmitted to the audience.”