''There is Shakespeare for literature, Madame Karinska for costumes," George Balanchine Her name is magic, Barbara Karinska was the woman who revolutioned the world of ballet with her perfectionism and sophisticated visions of the classical tutu.
Although she studied law, she was an ukranian born expert embroiderer and tailor but the fall of the Russian Empire, her work and her talent took her to Paris, London and America. This talent would led her, almost in her forties, to a dream work in which she collabored with Chagall, Cecil Beaton, Dalí, Cocteau or Miró and of course with the choreographer George Balanchine on the costumes for his Ballet Russe of Montecarlo and later when he was the head of the New York ballet, relationship that lasted to the end of their days.
Before them the tutus one could see in the ballets were like the ones represented in Degas paintings or shorter but more rigid but, for Karinska and Balanchine, a tutu had to be free flowing and must enhance the ballerina's grace, not to difficult their movements so she created the shorter and layered kind of tutu that we still see in today's stages, with several layers of tulle (6 or 7 in origin) decreasing in width, without a hooo and tackled between them to create this flowing effect, the Powder Puff.
She did much more than tutus, she made tunics and maillots suited to the character's necessities as Diaghilev had already done in his Ballets Russes at the beginning of the XX, and applied the new materials and techniques like the bias cut to allow a better fit for the bodies. She dressed famous stars in theatre plays, revues, movies, was nominated several times for an Oscar and won one in 1948 for Joanne of Arc.
A master of the needle, an arquitecht of the couture who treated colors as if she was painting a water color for the enjoyment of the public and embellished her works with wonderful and light weighted trims. A name full of romanticism, Karinska.
by the Barbiest