NEW YORK — It’s become a natural extension of New York Fashion Week: For the last five years, noted designers have been recruited to costume dancers performing new works at the New York City Ballet fall gala. As if to underscore the fusion of the two disciplines, the fashion designer takes a bow at the end along with the choreographer.
The results are always interesting, if sometimes mixed. Many of the designers are dressing ballet dancers for the first time, and dancers move differently than models on a runway. The learning (and pinning, and sewing) process is captured in entertaining short films shown before each ballet.
At Lincoln Center on Tuesday evening, it was the turn of Narciso Rodriguez, Jason Wu, Rosie Assoulin and Dries Van Noten to display their wares.
First up was Rodriguez, known for his elegant and minimalist look. His simple and flowing creations in a restrained palette of black, white and light pink seemed designed to let the dancers move easily — something that isn’t always accomplished in these collaborations. The look was ideal for the challenging choreography in “For Clara,” a debut work by one of NYCB’s principal dancers, Lauren Lovette.
Next was Van Noten, whose colorful, knee-length silk dress for ballerina Sara Mearns in “The Dreamers,” by Justin Peck, could have doubled as a cocktail dress for the party later in the evening. The designs for Mearns and her partner, Amar Ramasar, were inspired by the work of British abstract artist Patrick Heron.
As for Wu, he noted in the filmed interview that he had initially thought to clothe his dancers for “ten in seven” in black and white. But after talking with choreographer Peter Walker, the team — which included Marc Happel of the ballet company’s own costume shop — decided on neon colors under the black lace, melding old and new.
Finally, designer Rosie Assoulin provided the entertaining — and sexy — costumes for Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Unframed.” Her designs were like chic corporate suits, gradually deconstructed. Toward the end, dancers Sterling Hyltin and Adrian Danchig Waring may have been wearing the least fabric of anyone — but in this case, less was more.
The evening concluded with the reprise of Peter Martins’ 2012 “Bal de Couture,” with lavish and frilly costumes by Valentino.