September 1 2014

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5 posts tagged "Peter Martins"

“The Most Strong and Beautiful Thing”: Valentino, Alicia Keys, and More Turn Out for NYCB’s Gala Evening


ValentinoBetween the Met ball, Dior’s Cruise show, the kickoff of the Frieze Art Fair, and a slew of other charity galas, this week’s social calendar has been a demanding one to say the least. But that didn’t keep the social set from turning out for New York City Ballet’s Spring Gala last night, celebrating the company’s fiftieth year at Lincoln Center.

As guests, including Alicia Keys, Catherine Malandrino, and Gilles Mendel, made their way inside the David H. Koch Theater, they were handed a mini bottle of vodka and a shot glass along with the evening’s program. “Well, I guess we are really going to have a party now,” said one surprised attendee. “Do you think we get refills?”

Minutes later, ballet master in chief Peter Martins took the stage to lead the crowd in a toast—a company tradition started by its co-founder George Balanchine. That was followed by a series of tributes to opening night in 1964, including a song from the musical Carousel, which was performed by Kristen Bell and Aaron Lazar, and a classic Balanchine number. “I am immensely biased, but the New York City Ballet dancers are the best in the world,” said Martins.

The audience seemed to agree—everyone in the theater was on their feet for an extended standing ovation after the conclusion of NYCB soloist and choreographer Justin Peck’s world premiere of Everywhere We Go, featuring music by Sufjan Stevens and costumes by former NYCB dancer Janie Taylor. “Exceptional—I think it was the most strong and beautiful thing,” Valentino Garavani told before dinner. And how were the dancers going to let loose after the black-tie affair? “We will probably just go to a dive bar and get a few drinks; we all have to be at work tomorrow, so we can’t get too crazy,” said Peck. The evening raised more than $3.15 million for the ballet.

Photo: Getty Images 

Trading His Furs For Fouettés


With just hours before the curtain rises at the David H. Koch theater for the New York City Ballet’s Spring Gala tonight, J. Mendel’s Gilles Mendel is busy making the finishing touches on the costumes he’s designed for mater in chief Peter Martins’ new work, titled Mes Oiseaux. “I have been running back and forth to Lincoln Center with my scissors for two days now,” he told before heading back to the theater today. “It’s like doing a haircut—just a little more on this side and on that side until it’s perfect. It’s so surreal, here I am standing on the stage at Lincoln Center having the dancers of the New York City ballet do pirouettes for me so we can see that everything looks just right.”

It’s not the French designer’s first spin in the dance world. Back in 2010 he created the costumes for NYCB’s performance of Melissa Barak’s original ballet, Call Me Ben, which also provided inspiration for his Spring 2011 collection. “I like my clothes to be very precise because in fashion you want to look at them up close,” he said. “But from that experience, I learned to let go and stand 20 feet away from the dancer—things have to look good from a distance on the stage.”

For his second act, the designer brought the same femininity that’s linked to the J. Mendel aesthetic using tulle, stretch georgette, and muslin. But, he warns, “I think people will be quite surprised—it’s very graphic. The ballet is about three women and their relationship with a man. Peter and I wanted to give to the public a moment of discovery, so you wouldn’t know immediately that one woman is good, one is bad.” He designed a series of mostly-black costumes for the number, which only show the dancer’s true colors—figuratively and literally—when they move. An exclusive sketch of one of Mendel’s costumes is above.

Mes Oiseaux will be performed tonight alongside the Balanchine classic Symphony in C, with costumes by Marc Happel, and the latest work (titled Two Hearts) by former NYCB principal dancer and husband to Natalie Portman, Benjamin Millepied, with costumes by Rodarte. And check back tomorrow in People & Parties for our full report on the gala, hosted by honorary chairman Natalie Portman.

Illustration: Courtesy of J. Mendel

Jamie Wolf Takes Center Stage Again


“When I first joined New York City Ballet, Peter Martins told me, ‘I let you into this company, but it’s all up to you now,” dancer-turned-jewelry-designer Jamie Wolf tells “I will never forget that, and now I apply that to my line as well. When I first got my collection into Barneys, I knew I couldn’t just sit down and let that be enough.”

After ten years in the NYCB, the former dancer was able to translate the same drive, discipline, and elegance she gained from her ballet training into a new career as a jewelry designer. Wolf’s work and life, however, remains strongly intertwined with the dance world. (One of her biggest assignments to date was designing Natalie Portman’s engagement ring for her friend and former colleague, Benjamin Millepied, both of whom she appeared with in Black Swan). Today she debuts a new Signature Collection under her namesake label (celebrating its tenth anniversary this year), inspired by her tenure with the ballet company. “They are the pieces that were designed during the time I was still dancing for NYCB,” Wolf explains of the collection, which she launched in 2002 before leaving the ballet company in 2005, made up predominantly of earrings (one of her specialties). “Creating something beautiful, either with movement or with design, it’s the same.”

Meanwhile, Wolf is hard at work finishing the jewelry she has designed for NYCB’s Spring Gala show, the George Balanchine classic Symphony in C. Of her first role as a jewelry costumer for the newly modernized ballet, Wolf says, “It feels totally natural, because I did all four movements in Symphony in C over the ten years I danced there.” She adds, “I understand what it’s like to wear a headpiece or earrings, and I know that the weight and scale of the pieces is very important here.”

The Jamie Wolf Signature Collection, which retails for $550 to $29,000, is available today at

Photo: Courtesy of Jamie Wolf

Stella McCartney, En Pointe  


Stella McCartney knows her way around a runway collection, a Met ball gown, or even a line of Olympic-ready sportsgear. But when she was asked to costume the new ballet Ocean’s Kingdom—scored by her father, Sir Paul McCartney, and choreographed by the New York City Ballet’s Peter Martins—the seasoned veteran had to stretch her muscles a bit more than usual. Tomorrow night, the ballet debuts at Lincoln Center. Beforehand, caught up with McCartney to talk working with dad and designing a tutu-less ballet.

Did you do ballet when you were you a little girl?
I didn’t really do it when I was younger. I tried for a moment, but ballet kind of passed me by, it wasn’t really part of my life. Maybe we were a little too rock ‘n’ roll for the ballet lessons? My daughter is big into ballet though.

What was this collaborative process like for you?
It’s more of a collaboration than most things I have ever done, actually. Working with Dad was more talking to him about his vision for the characters and what they symbolize. There is definitely a clear storyline. But it’s funny, the music has been a little less important than the hair and makeup for the costumes.

How did you work with Peter Martins and the dancers to create the costumes?
Working with these incredible dancers, I treated them like athletes. The athletic thing comes pretty naturally for me through my work with Adidas and the upcoming Olympics. With Peter, it was working on the aesthetics, like elongating legs, revealing their extreme movements, and emphasizing the technique, and also telling a story. You are telling a story through costumes. It’s been an incredibly complex process. Being asked to design costumes for music that hasn’t been finalized, or choreography that hasn’t been finished, isn’t easy.

I can’t help but notice there are no tutus in this ballet. Why not?
It’s funny, from the first day, my biggest question was: How did Dad see it? It was very contemporary, musically and visually. As a fashion designer, when you are asked to do a ballet, the first thing you want to do is an amazing, elaborate tutu—especially as a woman. It’s been refreshing to not do that. It’s easy to get so theatrical with this but I wanted to make sure to bring my brand and voice into the ballet.

These costumes took a lot more time than you predicted. How long have you been working on them?
Every day, since we started a couple of months ago. It’s definitely been a thought-consuming and time-consuming process, for sure.

What were you most surprised by?
There was nothing I was totally surprised by, but it’s been more extreme than I would have thought. We have this incredible music by Dad, this amazing choreography, and it’s the bringing together of all those elements. Maybe it’s the timeline and the way the choreography comes so much after that has been difficult? The choreography and music was an ongoing process, but the clothes have to be set a little more in stone. Nothing really whacked me in the face from left field, luckily. To do a ballet for the New York City Ballet, it’s incredible.

Would you do this again?
Maybe—I am open to everything. For me, I have a fashion show as my normal venue and with this, it’s really exciting that this will travel and thousands will get to experience the entire process. It will fill their life for one moment. I definitely have a tutu in me, somewhere. I wanted to create elements I would be proud to put down the runway, if that were to happen. In no way did we want it to be too theatrical or comic. You really have to find a balance between ridiculous and storytelling.

On the big debut night, will you be backstage or in the audience?
I have been seated in the audience, but I feel a bit like I should be backstage. I will know that during those key days, where I should be. I’m a bit nervous, you always are. It’s a totally new arena for me. I’m hoping it goes OK. I haven’t even seen the costumes on stage yet. I finally got to see it in a rehearsal room, so at least I could see it to scale. That’s really important to me and that was really cluttering my mind.

Did your work on the ballet influence your work as a fashion designer in any way?
Had we had more time, and had the timing been in conjunction with my collections, I think it might have. Maybe it influenced my ready-to-wear collection a bit? Perhaps it’s more the other way around. It’s an interesting process working with dancers. It’s kind of like you have a grid and you have to work into that. There’s a reason that ballets look the way they do. It’s not like an opera where no one is moving—headpieces can fall off mid-pirouette!

Get a sneak peak at rehearsals and costume fittings with Stella, here.

Photos: Courtesy of Stella McCartney

Forget The Four Seasons


Keith McNally’s newly opened Minetta Tavern in the West Village was the scene of a high-powered lunch today. Vogue‘s Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley hosted the event in honor of White House social secretary and assistant to the President, Desirée Rogers, and the guest list read like a who’s who of the New York arts and entertainment scene. In attendance were Mike Nichols, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mark Morris, Isaac Mizrahi, Peter Martins, Iman, and Kara Walker, among others.