On my 4th birthday, my mum took me to my first ever ballet lesson in a cold, echoey hall in my small hometown and I instantly fell in love. I fell in love with the pink shoes, the puffy dresses, the energy and enjoyment I felt when dancing and the ideals that surrounded the genre of dance itself. I continued to go to ballet practice every week until I was around 10 years old, also competing in several talent shows, productions and exams throughout the years. There are several reasons why I decided to quit the hobby I once loved, the main one being, I felt I was not ‘perfect’ enough to consider taking my passion of dance to a professional level. I had always done well in the exams and even moved onto doing jazz and tap dancing alongside my ballet hobby but the toxic idea that you had to look a certain way to be a professional dancer, forced me to give up everything at once and left me with several health issues.
For my final project in my last year of university, I have decided to look back at my childhood hobby to inspire my graduate collection. I want to show through my collection that you can do ballet whatever you look like, you do not need to be perfect, since the reality is that no one is. Not only will my collection portray the past relationship I had with ballet, but also my love for the colour pink. After brainstorming and researching ideas for this project I was only inspired by the colour pink in everything I researched and I realised that my love for the colour stems from my past, wearing pink to ballet practices and shows. The nostalgic feeling I have when using the colour pink in my work is something I intend to portray throughout the collection. I believe it is important for people to do what they love despite stereotypes and I hope to portray that in my collection. Ballet should be fun.
The figures shown are my first toile of outfit 1 in my collection. I used a variety of materials and fabrics such as tulle, netting, ribbon, chiffon, organza and georgette to portray the energetic, bubbly, charismatic personalities that surround childhood ballet dancing. A dress as over the top and fairy-like as this is what I would have wanted to wear as a child when ballet dancing so to create this collection now, requires me to think back to my timid child-self and create garments that I would have worn if I had had the confidence.
‘Sustainabella’ combines the words ‘sustainable’ and ‘bella’, the latter translating to the Italian word for ‘pretty’. I believe I can generate a collection that is both sustainable and pretty at the same time, all whilst portraying my relationship with ballet dancing. For my collection, I intend to create a line up inspired by ballet and how it is a cut-throat industry where one must be ‘perfect’ in order to be a true ballerina. The idea of perfectionism and to look a certain way has made numerous individuals, including myself, to fall out of love and abandon ballet dancing altogether. I propose to strip away the toxic concepts that arise with ballet and produce a fun, dynamic and charming collection that anybody can wear, no matter what you look like or how ‘imperfect’ you think you are.
Words: Alice Hampton, BA Fashion, @aliceeefashionblog