The Stepmother wears Schiaparelli

The Australian Ballet has released photos and sketches of Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella, a production that will premiere in Melbourne later this month.

There’s a decidedly 1930s look about the costumes, especially those for the Stepmother.

The designer, Frenchman Jerome Kaplan, was obviously inspired by the shoe hat of the Italian fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, and of course the shoe is so perfect for a fairytale about a young woman who loses her shoe and then finds it again in the hand of a prince.

Kaplan, who designed the sets and costumes for Ratmansky’s Don Quixote for the Dutch National Ballet, and also for his Lost Illusions, has dressed both the small and tall Stepsister in puff ball skirts, a look made famous by the designer Christian Lacroix in the 1980s.

Coincidentally, this year Lacroix created an haute couture tribute to Schiaparelli, one of his heroines for the past 40 years.

Both Lacroix and Schiaparelli have ballet connections, with Lacroix designing the costumes for La Source for the Paris Opera Ballet and next year, creating new designs for Balanchine’s Symphony in C, also for the Paris Opera Ballet.

Schiaparelli was inspired by the glory of the Ballets Russes when she first moved from Italy to Paris in 1913.

Her fashion signatures later evolved as hot (‘shocking’) pink and surrealism.

Palmer White, author of Elsa Schiaparelli: Empress of Paris Fashion wrote that in the autumn of 1937 “she designed a black hat in the form of an upside down shoe with a velvet heel sticking up like a small column…

“…in the same autumn she dared to wear a beret shaped like a mutton chop sporting a perky patent leather white frill over the bone, perhaps her ultimate claim to eccentricity”.

The shoe hat idea originated in 1933 when Salvador Dali was photographed by his wife Gala, wearing one of her slippers on his head.

Four years later he sketched a design for the shoe hat that Schiaparelli made.

The hat was worn only by Gala, Schiaparelli and Daisy Fellowes, the Franco-American editor of the French edition of Harper’s Bazaar.

The Stepmother will join their brave, fashion-forward ranks this month.

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The Stepsisters, Jerome Kaplan’s designs for Ratmansky’s Cinderella, the Australian Ballet

The Stepmother, design by Jerome Kaplan, Ratmansky’s Cinderella, the Australian Ballet

Schiaparelli’s hats

Schiaparelli fashion, Ladies Home Journal, 1930s

Christian Lacroix, bubble skirt, défilé haute-couture, printemps-été 1988 photo © Guy Marineau