I was thrilled when I discovered this year's theme was about the connection between corsetry and ballet, since my little sister is passionate about dance and has been practicing it since she was 4 years old. So, naturally, I chose her as a model and collaborator on this project.
After talking with her about what could be done, I realized the encounter between corsetry and ballet was also an encounter between her passion, her universe and mine, so I decided to take this duality as the basis of my work.
I concretized this duality by taking inspiration from another form of living art that I know and love, and that is closely related to corsets: Burlesque. This is what sparked the idea to make a transformable costume inspired by the undressing art of burlesque, but applied to a ballet tutu. I have always been fascinated by transformable costumes/clothing, especially in correlation with dance, for it gives movement to the costume which tells a story of its own, and complements the choreography. The best examples I have in mind (and which were my main inspirations for this project) are this green corseted dress made by Ziad Ghanem, which reveals another "secret" dress, and this garment worn by Dita von Teese at a Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show, with a black exoskeleton hidden underneath.
I decided to make a very classical looking tutu, one that would be my version of the "music box" ballerina, which could be quickly removed by pulling a bone out of the center front. It would then reveal a hidden exoskeleton-looking structure inspired by crinolines, with a much more contemporary, neo-classical look. It would show my vision of the two universes of dance and corsetry, as well as a contrast between traditional ballet and neo-classical ballet. I told my sister about this idea and she liked it, and decided to imagine a choreography that would complement this costume.
The "hidden" part of the tutu is made of skin tone mesh and black PVC, and the blue costume is made of peacock blue satin fused to black coutil, finished with twill tape on the inside (using the antique corset construction method). I decorated it with black beaded lace that I made using the needle tatting technique, and positioned on the garment to accentuate the curves of the body. The tutu was made using a mix of black tulle and blue organza. I drafted my own pattern for this project, using a mix of several patterning techniques.
This whole project was very challenging, because it required me to do many things i had never done before (sewing a tutu, building a crinoline-like structure, working out the center front to make the costume quickly removable, working with PVC...), and because the finished garment had to be comfortable and practical for my model, who is quite thin and doesn't bear much compression, and had to dance in it.
The end result doesn't exactly conform to what I had in mind, and contrary to what I thought, I ended up liking the blue design way more than the black one. I think I should have started working on it earlier to leave myself more space for trial and error, but I am glad I managed to give life to my idea, and loved collaborating with my sister.