Ballet Preljocaj and designer Jean Paul Gaultier have given a fashionable twist to a classic fairytale. In this production of Snow White, characters jeté and fouetté in lavish, couture ensembles – some of which appear to take inspiration from the French designer’s classic bustiers and patent leathers.
Gaultier was contacted by choreographer Angelin Preljocaj to help create costumes for a version of Snow White that was dark and sensual. And in true Gaultier fashion, the results are dramatic and daring.
The designer gave the “arrogant, sadistic, cruel” stepmother a costume that would have Madonna drooling: Spike-heeled, thigh-high boots and a high-cut black bustier. “She has a train and a corset, with the effect of blood on the hemline. This is because in her memory, she has some blood. She is primitive, menacing,” he told the Washington Post.
Gaulter’s biggest challenge was designing a costume for Snow White. The titular character represents the opposite of Gaultier’s bondage aesthetic, however, the design gave him the most satisfaction. “There was something very tender and beautiful between her and the prince,” he said. “Sensual but beautiful and pure. I try to make an outfit that is white, innocent, in jersey, but that drapes. It’s attached with a kind of elastic you don’t see. It clings to the skin like a . . . a . . . like a miracle! Like she’s wearing nothing.”
While admittedly ballet is not his “cup of tea,” Gaultier did find value in designing outside of his usual métier. “At the core I am a fashion designer and I design clothes. I am happiest when I see someone in the street wearing my creations,” Gaultier told Harper’s Bazaar. “But I am sure that I will continue to work on different projects outside fashion. It is always a happy coincidence, a fortuitous encounter that has led to collaborations that I have had with dance or cinema.”
Snow White is showing at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center April 23-27, 2014.