LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Magic Moment: Karl Lagerfeld and the Ballerina


An impromptu private performance of The Dying Swan dance is caught on film by Karl Lagerfeld, creator of the exquisite Chanel tutu worn by ballerina Elena Glurdjidze.

“Would you like me to dance?” asked Elena Glurdjidze, senior principal dancer at the English National Ballet. “That,” replied Karl Lagerfeld, creative director at Chanel, “I would never have dared to ask.” This is the interchange that occurred at Chanel’s haute couture salon on Rue Cambon, Paris, which preceded Glurdjidze’s impromptu performance of The Dying Swan, caught on film by Lagerfled himself.

Glurdijidze was in Paris for the first fitting of a dress that Chanel has created for her as part of the English National Ballet’s season of Ballet Russes at Sadler’s Wells in London in June 2009. The tutu is exquisite: a riot of 2,500 ostrich plumes and turkey, hen and cock feathers layered over tulle and silk net. Made at the Lemarie Atelier – which specializes in working with feathers – it took three women over 100 hours to create.

“We always say that the look is 50% of how you are going to dance, so it is very important to have a beautiful costume,” remarks Glurdijidze of Chanel’s involvement. Though the famous fashion house has a historical relationship with the Ballet Russes: Coco Chanel dressed dancers for productions of Nijinska’s Le Train Bleu and Balanchine’s Apollon Musagete, and was a great friend of Sergei Diaghilev, the ballet company’s founder. Lagerfeld notes that it was Mademoiselle Chanel who “helped Diaghilev to stage [his ballet] again after World War I in 1919.”

At only four minutes long, Lagerfeld was able to record the whole dance of The Dying Swan, which was originally created by Ballet Russes choreographer Mikhail Fokine for Anna Pavlova in 1905. “From my childhood I was struck by images of Anna Pavlova dancing The Dying Swan,” says Lagerfeld. “The Ballets Russes had a real influence on me.” His appraisal of the graceful moves of Glurdijidze across the Chanel-logo embossed carpet? “Beyond sublime”.

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See the full video here:

For a full account of Karl Lagerfeld’s meeting with Elena Glurdijidze, click here:

The Dying Swan will be performed by the English National Ballet on June 16 and June 30 in London, before moving to Barcelona in September. Click here for more info:

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