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Style and ballet: How they intertwine

By Zhao Siyuan | | Updated: 2016-11-15 17:04

Style and ballet: How they intertwine

Dancers perform Meta, a Royal Ballet production at the Royal Opera House in London. [Photo by Helen Maybanks/provided to by Royal Opera House]

One doesn't have to be a fashionista to be aware of ballet's influence on fashion.

Ballerina flats, an all-time classic shoe, were named after ballet dancers. From high-end brands like Repetto to cheap knock-offs, the flats with bows on their tops have been touted as comfortable chic.

Six years after its release, ballet-themed movie Black Swan is still an inspiration for Halloween looks. Natalie Portman's iconic black tutu and smoky eye make-up in the 2010 hit can be found in most costume stores.

Conversely, ballet often looks to fashion designers for some expertise. From legendary Coco Chanel to current big-names, such as Miuccia Prada, Jean Paul Gaultier and Stella McCartney, examples are ripe in the collaborations between fashion houses and ballet productions, which is how designers personalize the ballet stage.

Robert Wun was the latest designer to take on ballet costuming. His collaboration with the Royal Ballet's production of Meta exemplified how two artistic worlds – ballet and fashion – can create a spark when driven by similar aesthetic values.

For people who know Wun's style – bold, ultra-modern cutting yet feminine – would not be surprised to see wave like ruffles of the ballerina's dress. It's one of his favorite elements, which is apparent in his previous collection.

"As you can tell, it's very me," Wun said after the show at the Royal Opera House in London Tuesday night.

Nonetheless, it was a shock to realize how such a modern style fit into traditional dancing so well. Then you'd push yourself into the contemporary dancing world where the elegance of the classic Swan Lake remains, but from look to spirit it's completely modern.

A somber cello opened the 15-minute dance about how four individuals find themselves in an unknown environment and interact with one another.

Together with the lighting, the setting created a surreal and other-worldly atmosphere.

When the stage brightened so more details could be seen, you'd find that the make-up of dancers was clean and minimalist, in contrast to ballet's traditional heavy make-up.

This is just one of the details that Wun had to pin-down during the four-month collaboration with the ballet production.

The change of the make-up style was his idea, as an example of how he makes his own decisions rather than compromising.

Again for people who know Wun, his non-compromising, free-style gig could be predictable.

The 25-year-old is a London-based emerging young talent. Drawn to this city by its welcoming, idealistic and innovative fashion industry, he met his counterpart from the ballet world – Charlotte Edmonds.

At the age of 19, Edmonds has already made a splash in the choreography scene. The protégé of renowned choreographer Wayne McGregor took part in the production of Meta in celebration of McGregor's 10th anniversary as a Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet.

"She knows my style. We have similar aesthetic values," said Wun.

Which is why when he embraced the clash of colors – black and white – with a biblical connotation, Edmonds liked the idea.

"It's about how the world was made, how God creates life from darkness. Black and white were the first two colors," Wun said, explaining how the Bible inspired him.

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