The Paris runway shows weren’t the only fashion event going down Wednesday evening. Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theate, played host to a different kind of sartorial spectacle with the New York City Ballet’s fall gala, sponsored by Cartier and themed “From the Runway to the Ballet.” As part of an ongoing endeavor spearheaded by New York City Ballet board member Sarah Jessica Parker (a co-gala chair with Adrienne Arsht), the dance company has been pairing fashion designers with choreographers for specific commissions.
And so Zuhair Murad lent his signature shimmering embroidery and beadwork to Myles Thatcher’s “Polaris,” Hanako Maeda of ADEAM worked with Robert Binet on the moody “The Blue of Distance,” Marta Marque and Paulo Almeida of Marques’Almeida created colorful, flowy looks for Troy Schumacher’s “Common Ground” and Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony and Kenzo dreamed up cut-out body suits for Justin Peck’s “New Blood,” all of which had their world premieres on Wednesday. NYCB’s Ballet Chief Peter Martins also teamed up with Peter Copping of Oscar de la Renta for a reimagining of the ball gowns for his “Thou Swell.”
“During the performance, my heart was really beating. I was much more nervous than I would be for a fashion show,” said Copping at dinner afterwards. “I’ve been working in fashion for over 20 years. I couldn’t count how many fashion shows I’ve done. This was all different. I was outside my comfort zone.”
Murad, often most recognized for his dazzling red carpet gowns (notably on Jennifer Lopez), felt similarly challenged by his task.
“To do couture pieces, but for dancers, to translate the message from couture, which is something very sophisticated, maybe sometimes not very comfortable, to something very comfortable, very soft, with movement, that was really difficult in the beginning,” he said.
Peck had a leg up, having worked on Leon’s Opening Ceremony show a few weeks prior, for which he choreographed dancers wearing the spring ’16 collection. “That’s the first time there’s really been a crossover in both directions on this project,” said Peck, of the NYCB’s fashion-dance partnership, adding of Leon, “I think with [“New Blood”] he never pulled any elements from any collection he had. He really dug deep to think what he could do to enhance the movement and music with his contribution and I’m super grateful for that.”
Of course, the fashion didn’t overshadow the true reason everyone was there: to watch spectacular dancing. Jennifer Hudson, for one, was enjoying her first night ever at the ballet.
“It’s so great to see people who are passionate about what they do,” enthused the actress-singer, who was Prabal Gurung’s date for the night. “But I was so confused, like, how they do learn all of that? As a performer, I was like, how do they do it?"
We’re sure they wonder the same thing about her.