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Monday Muse: Sergei Diaghilev€™s Ballets Russes Inspire Diane von Furstenberg

Sergei Diaghilev€™s Ballets Russes

According to Diane von Furstenberg herself, 40 is the new 30, and after four decades of her revolutionary wrap dress, she presented a collection inspired by Sergei Diaghilev€™s Ballets Russes (which happened to come into prominence during the 1920s, but let’s not play a numbers game). The collection was a celebration of DvF’s heritage, looking back on her iconic pieces — there were plenty of wrap dresses — and bringing them into the modern woman’s wardrobe through new prints and a fresh new take on something that just about every woman has in her working wardrobe.

Lifar and Danilova in Apollon Musagetes

After the Russian Revolution, Sergei Diaghilev and his itinerant troupe of ballet dancers toured Europe, bringing a decidedly Russian take on the art of ballet to the rest of Europe in a way that they’d never seen before. The principles of the Ballets Russes included collaboration, which brought in new choreographers at every stop (the troupe’s ties in Paris are actually quite loose, since they only performed in the city for one season), new composers, designers and dancers to keep the company constantly changing and evolving.

Diaghilev even commissioned works from huge names in the art and fashion worlds, such as Coco Chanel, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. And while change seemed to be the only trademark that the Ballets Russes was known for, the team did develop certain signatures, such as elaborate sets, striking visuals that shook the very foundation of dance in Europe and even America. The Ballets Russes even brought Russian folklore and traditional dance to audiences that had never been exposed to it before. And as dancers came and went, some stayed back in cities such as Paris to teach a younger generation of dancers the techniques of the Ballets Russes, which was known for its high caliber of dancing as much as it was for its revolutionary style.

Diane von Furstenberg Fall 2014

Diane von Furstenberg Fall 2014













For Fall 2014, von Furstenberg entitled her collection Bohemian Wrapsody.

Cheeky? No doubt, but it was also an apt title for a collection that drew on the rich history and vagabond lifestyle led by the principal dancers and company of the Ballets Russes. There were plenty of opulent, Deco-tinged prints and bold, saturated colors, and you could imagine a few of the items, the oversize coats and slouchy bags, for instance, that could have been picked up in shops just a little off the beaten path.

Diane von Furstenberg Fall 2014

There was the blend of old and new — veteran model Karen Elson opened the show, swiftly followed by model of the moment Karlie Kloss — including wrap dresses in recognizable DvF prints with a dash of extra gold here and there, or little wrap cardigans that you’d see on dancers during warm up sessions done in traditional baby pinks and bold gold alike. The show included a finale of gold dresses, each and every model shimmering with a thousand paillettes as she stomped on the patterned catwalk. While there was little you could call revolutionary in the collection, that’s not what DvF is about — she created a collection that real girls can wear to whatever occasions they might have, and she did it in the newest way possible: in the brand spankin’ new Spring Studios and utilizing the full force of social media before, during and after she show (model Coco Rocha even hosted a pre-show and interviewed celebs and attendees, the whole thing streamed online for the entire world to see). At the end, a shower of gold confetti rained on the crowd and the designer herself as she took her final bow. If this is how DvF does 40, we can’t wait until she shows us just how much fun 50 can be.

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