Jean-Paul Gaultier “Snow White’ costumes recycle Cher’s 1989 thong 3

Dance · Fashion · Film

And now for something completely not different. We were distracted, at ‘Dance at the Music Center,’ by an unflattering costume created for the lead dancer in Ballet Preljocaj’s “Snow White.”  

Baby-diaper by front, bird-tail by back, and bared flesh in between, it was fabricated by haute couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier. It sent the viewer’s eye onto the dancer’s exposed upper thigh and derriere. Okay, it didn’t work. No big deal.

We had to laugh, however, when our friend noted, after the performance, that Snow White’s look, and even more so the black version worn by the story’s wicked stepmother, bore an uncanny resemblance to a notorious ensemble from the past.

It bares mentioning, er … it bears… well, Gaultier’s dance wear certainly recalls Cher’s kooky “thong” get-up of 1989.

We spent a good deal of time during the ballet, as the Mahler music sequenced, tracking whether the white fabric’s draping would wrest the fairy tale from “R” to “X” rating. At the coda, Gaultier clad Mlle. Blanche in a lovely tiered ballgown. But it came late. 

In the Washington Post, dance critic Sarah Kaufman speaks to the fashionista about his dance creation. 

“There was something very tender and beautiful between her and the prince,” Gaultier says, recalling the moment with evident awe. “Sensual but beautiful and pure. I try to make an outfit that is white, innocent, in jersey, but that drapes. It’s attached with a kind of elastic you don’t see. It clings to the skin like a . . . a . . . ” he searches for the word. “Like a miracle! Like she’s wearing nothing.”

The look is part Grecian goddess, part diaper, with a train. It’s open on the sides, so Snow White bares quite a lot of skin, but the way the fabric wraps between her legs, suggesting a baby’s swaddling, is just as Gaultier described it: at once sexy and chaste.

For her, there is none of Gaultier’s customary irony. In the face of innocence, the designer set aside architecture, exquisite stitchery and any character detail whatsoever. “It’s really not a costume; it’s like it doesn’t exist,” he says. “It’s just some fabric.”

We preferred the parade of naked derrieres in Frederick Wiseman’s latest documentary film, “Crazy Horse.”

Beaucoup plus jolie.

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3 thoughts on “Jean-Paul Gaultier “Snow White’ costumes recycle Cher’s 1989 thong

  1. Samantha Mar 28,2012 12:49 pm

    Rats, just as I feared… but at least there’ll be the two good pas de deux. Love what you say about the old fave way to demean women… was it Fontyn and Nureyev who rocked that best in Marguerite and Armand?
    Thanks for the warnings, I’m sure I’ll agree with your judgment. 😉


  2. debra Mar 28,2012 12:08 pm

    Hi Sam, yes, I studiously avoided commenting on the dance, not wanting to involve myself in a full review of the work. I thought the dancing was extremely so-so, having spent the prior week watching the stellar Paul Taylor dancers in New York. The level of training was feh. The lady with her butt exposed was also not a great dancer which added to her costume woes. The choreography, also middling, although two well choreographed pas de deuxs. The evening has new and different ways for a male choreographer to demean women, including an old favorite in which a man drags a “dead” woman around in a pas de deux. There is a vile and sadistic encounter between Snow White, her mom and the apple. Gee thanks for that, Angelin.

  3. Samantha Mar 28,2012 12:01 pm

    Was the dancing any good? I got the last ticket in the house for Kennedy Center’s show. Wonder if there’s a lot of peeps jonsing for some x-rated dance OR whether they mistakenly think this is a “family friendly” ballet faery tale. Strikes me as there will be many moments of Grimm…

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