Kim Jones Dresses Reece Clarke In Dior For Ballet Performance at Charleston Festival

It’s widely known that Christian Dior was the designer of dreams. A Parisian couturier, he built a high fashion house that dressed the women of Paris and the world in extraordinary gowns, elegant day dresses and the New Look. Eventually, he suited men too. Now, under the artistic direction of Kim JonesDior’s menswear touches every bourgeois space, dousing them with the house’s exceptionally elegant savoir faire and irresistible magic. One such space is the ballet.

In 1955, Monsieur Dior designed the wedding dress of Royal Ballet starlet Margot Fonteyn. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s SS19 collection for the house spotlighted dancers Isadora Duncan and Loïe Fuller who wore gauzy frocks with pleated tulle skirts and ballet pumps while the show featured a performance imagined by choreographer Sharon Eyal. Jones’s AW24 menswear show was directly inspired by the Soviet-born, influential ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev and Colin Jones, a former British Royal Ballet dancer who is also the designer’s late uncle. Models wore couture-ified off-duty dancer looks with ballet flats and fitted tops while they walked – or stood like Roman statues atop a revolving platform – to ‘Dance of the Knights’, which famously scored Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Back in March of this year, Chiuri twirled into the dance world again, designing the costumes for Sleepless nighta ballet paying homage to the composer and musician Philip Glass, that was performed at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.

Now, Jones has lent his deft hand to Reese Clarke, principal dancer of The Royal Balletfor his performance at the 35th Charleston Festival which took place Tuesday. Performing a reimagining of Vaslav Nijinsky’s The Afternoon of a Faun with choreography by Russell Maliphant OBE, PhDthe award-winning director and choreographer of Russell Maliphant Dance Company, Clarke was the focal point of a live performance by celebrated pianists Melvyn Tan and Churen Li using two Steinway pianos (as originally imagined by the composers), accompanied by dramatic readings by actor David Morrissey. First performed for the Ballet Russes over 100 years ago (and causing an uproar that dramatically changed how the world thought about music and dance), for this updated rendition of the nine-minute solo, Clarke wore a bespoke costume that featured a brilliant jersey embroidered tank top and jersey leggings, with Nuryev Dior trousers from the AW24 show and a fluid tailored coat with a drawstring at the back. “The costume lends perfectly to Russell’s choreography and allows me to move freely and extend my limbs, whilst maintaining a sculpted frame and showcase the male form,” Clarke tells 10adding “It’s so incredibly exciting to be involved in a project alongside two incredible artists, Kim Jones and Russell Maliphant. I have been inspired by both their creations respectively and to be able to collaborate with them and combine their genius for this new solo performance has been a match made in heaven. I’ve been lucky enough to wear some of Kim’s designs in the past but to have the chance to perform in a custom look is just the highest honour and I’m so grateful… It’s so wonderful that Kim has taken this moment to combine his love for fashion and dance, and he has created something visually striking that really encapsulates the narrative that my solo performance is based on… I feel so honoured to be wearing a custom Dior look by Kim Jones for the world premiere of (The Afternoon of a) Faun.”

“I started wearing the prototype costume in my rehearsals with choreographer Russell Maliphant from our very first rehearsal together. When I had the costume on, it enabled Russell and myself to capture the ‘human’ element of this reimagined choreography. The original choreography is based on a Faun and themes of lust, desire, love and rejection, in a fantasy-like setting and Russell has brought this into the present day and has created a more ‘human’ approach to the piece,” says Clarke.


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