Thursday, May 09, 2013

New York City Ballet Gala

Queen Latifah Rocks The Ballet

Last act of ballet
(All photos Lieba Nesis)

The New York City Ballet held its annual spring gala at the David Koch Theater at Lincoln Center with much hype surrounding the event.   Queen Latifah was going to sing and more importantly, this is a critical staple in any New York socialite's busy calendar.  The event started off with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres on the terrace of the Koch theater. 

Jean Shafiroff

The crowd was bedecked in jewels and long flowing gowns-this was socialite heaven.  The excitement was palpable with most of the crowd familiar with each other from their busy social circuit.  Jean Shafiroff, the reigning socialite,  showed up in a stunning pink Oscar de la Renta ball gown adorned by Van Cleef and Boucheron jewels.  There were other ladies beautifully groomed in vintage Dior, B. Michael, and Monique Lhuillier floor length dresses.  As the bell began to ring, it was time for the crowd to take their seats and for the dancing to begin. 

Michele Herbert in Monique Lhuillier

The costumes in the ballet were splendid- with women in pink and purple tutus, men in orange, green and red tights; and one act where the men were in jeans and t shirts with the women in full bodied skirts.  While the connection between art and fashion has always been clearly established, the one between ballet and fashion has been rather tenuous.  However, over the past years this connection has been strengthened with the help of Valentino, Rodarte, J. Mendel and Nanette Lepore, all of whom have designed costumes for the New York City Ballet. 

Joseph Altuzarra

This year Joseph Altuzarra, the French fashion designer, was designing the costumes for two principal dancers, Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild.  Altuzarra, is a luxury women's ready-to-wear clothing designer who launched his brand in New York in 2008.  Mr. Altuzarra, a winner of the Vogue Fashion Fund Award, the FGI Rising Star of the Year Award and numerous other honors, was a perfect choice as he himself danced ballet for eight years as a youngster in Paris.  Tiler Peck wore a pale blue crepe de Chine with an asymmetical ruffle on the bottom and Fairchild was clothed in an off white costume with a pale blue underlay. Peck's and Fairchild's costumes were extremely simple and understated in comparison to the voluminous costumes Valentino designed for the last gala. 

Principal dancers Ashley Bouder in B. Michael, Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck in Joseph Altuzarra

 However, the dancers seemed to be more at ease in their movement with these simple garments.  Fairchild's off white top was draped over his bodice for which Altuzarra said he was inspired by rehearsal pictures of Baryshnikov and Nureyev in the sixties and seventies.  These costumes were elegant and utilitarian-perhaps too practical for my taste. 

Valentino Garavani

The next act, my favorite part of the night, included Queen Latifah singing "The Man I Love" accompanied by two dancers in a loving pas de deux. This was a crowd pleaser and a moment I will not soon forget-I had no idea Queen Latifah could sing a ballad with such conviction.  The costumes of the last dance were coordinated perfectly - with the men dressed as soldiers and the women in blue, pink and yellow tutus complementing the men's attire.

Ann Duong & Hamish Bowles

The dinner took place in the main dining room with an incredible crowd of luminaries from all walks of life.  Hamish Bowles, Ann Duong, Lesley Stahl, Valentino Garavani, and Joseph Altuzarra were among the bursting crowd.  Valentino said he would love to do the costumes for the Kirov ballet and he really enjoyed designing the costumes for the September ballet gala.  Altuzarra said, "it was a great experience to be in the ballet world where it is all about movement, which allows you to think outside the box and not be confined to street clothing."  Tiler Peck, echoed this sentiment stating, "I loved working with Joseph Altuzarra because he understands how a piece of clothing works with movement, making it so easy to dance and so enjoyable."

At the conclusion of the evening, I was left to contemplate whether the fusion of ballet with designers and musicians was simply a gimmicky way to attract a large crowd or a symbiosis between these creative expressions.

-Lieba Nesis

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