Balletcore: A Look Back at How Designers Have Been Inspired by Dance

Most recently re-energized by Miu Miu, balletomania is back in fashion—only this time it’s called balletcore. And it’s not all about the tutu. All our barre workouts have accustomed practitioners to leotards and legwarmers. On and off the runways, the ODD look (off-duty dancer) is giving the MOD (model off-duty) aesthetic a run for its money. It helps that viral dance crazes are rampant, and comfort (which often translates to active-fashion hybrids in fashion) is at a premium.

“The influence of ballet on fashion, specifically practice clothing such as leotards and tights, dates back to the rise of balletomania during the 1930s and 1940s,” Patricia Mears, who curated Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse at the Museum at FIT, told me. “It was strongly revived during the disco era of the 1970s, long before the term athleisure entered our vocabulary,” she continued, so the recent re-emergence of ODD may indeed be connected to the current social media-driven dance craze. “The use of social media platforms by classical dance companies and their star dancers is helping make the art form more accessible.” The virtual output includes everything from costumes commissioned by leading designers to looks worn by ballerinas in their everyday lives.

Whatever you prefer to call the trend, this iteration of balletomania speaks more fully to a dancer’s all-round experience, from street to studio to stage. The results include a range of garments that speak not just to fashion fantasy but also to quotidian needs, which is a move in the right direction. Here, a look back at fashion’s ongoing fascination with dance.

Off-Duty Dancer

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