Trends like tulle, taffeta and pumps in ballet studios are growing in popularity, but they could be problematic.
Fashion is embracing the ballet look and has raised the bar. British Vogue’s April cover was unveiled this week, featuring Anya Taylor Joy of The Queen’s Gambit. The photoshoot featured tulle dresses and mesh body stocks from Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier taffeta corsets, and Alexis Mabille’s chantilly-lace corset dress. It was a loving letter to the worlds of leg warmers, hair buns, and leg warmers.
Both Zoe Kravitz and Lily James wore dresses in “ballet rose” at the Oscars. Later in the week, Sarah Jessica Parker reminded Carrie Bradshaw’s pink tutu she wore in a Prabal Gurung maxi gown. Harry Styles also showed off his ballet pumps for Harry’s House on the cover.
Beyonce, Dua Lipa, and Billie Eilish have made balletic catsuit by Thierry Mugler their go-to uniform. Meanwhile, the blue wrap cardigan worn in the recent episode of HBO’s Euphoria by Sydney Sweeney went viral.
Professor Alison L Goodrum is a fashion historian and fashion theorist who directs research development at Norwich University of the Arts. “[The look] channels the dress room, the rehearsal area, and the dance studio where clothing must feel comfortable and versatile, easy on and off, and with little overdue decoration,” she says.
This style is gaining popularity among the public. Lyst, a fashion search engine, reported a 36% rise in searches for ballet flats, and a 22% rise in searches for tulle dresses over the past six months. Also, social media has seen a #Balletcore trend with 7.5 million views on TikTok. Fashion brands such as Simone Roche and Molly Goddard have also been greatly influenced by the fluid dance style.
It can be seen too as a reaction to the pandemic and after a spell of wearing tracksuit bottoms. Goodrum says, “It suggests a more widespread rediscovery and reorganization of the body after a substantial period of time under baggy, shapeless, or non-clothing during lockdown. The look emphasizes the natural contours and beauty of the body.”
Angela McRobbie is a cultural theorist at Goldsmiths University of London. She says that “The ballet studio continues to be such a popular place of fantasy for girls. There is a lot of nostalgia for ‘girlhood” that underpins the current romance with ballet.”
Balletcore is all about romance and fantasy, but it is also potentially problematic. McRobbie says that there is a lot of discussion on Twitter about black ballet, and how important it is to challenge its past existence as dominant whiteness. In an age of plus-size advocacy, it is not a good idea to promote super-slim bodies. Goodrum adds that some may argue that the look encourages and supports an overemphasis of the body and strict disciplining it in pursuit of dancerly perfection.