Between book deals and Under Armour endorsements, her own Barbie doll and a spot at the judges table on NBC's "World of Dance," Misty Copeland has been one of the few ballerinas to break into mainstream pop culture. Now she's conquering the world of cosmetics. Yesterday, Esteé Lauder announced that Copeland is the new spokesmodel for its fragrance, Modern Muse. The name seems fitting, given how her journey to becoming American Ballet Theatre's first black principal woman has inspired so many. She'll front the fragrance's campaign across digital, print, in-store and television advertisements.
The dancer-as-brand-ambassador theme is catching on. Back in ballet's glory days, Suzanne Farrell was the face of L'Air du Temps perfume, while Mikhail Baryshnikov attached his name to not one, but two colognes. After a prolonged dry spell, we're happy to see dancers receiving mainstream visibility again as more companies book them to represent their brands. Here are just a few recent examples:
Ballet-inspired clothing is nothing new, and the dance and fashion worlds have always been in conversation with each other. Think of how many prominent choreographers have enlisted fashion designers to create costumes for their work, or how ballet flats have become a wardrobe staple.
But lately, activewear brands are catching on too, with collaborations that emphasize the athleticism and strength of ballet dancers. There's Misty Copeland's "I Will What I Want" campaign for Under Armour, the recent GapFit campaign featuring dancers like Calvin Royal III, Keenan Kampa and Mayara Pineiro, and, as of next week, a whole line of ballet-inspired sneakers and sportswear from PUMA, as part of their "Do You" campaign.
The collection is part of PUMA's partnership with New York City Ballet, which began last summer. Called Swan Pack, it's made up of mostly black and white pieces, including a sneaker with pointe shoe-esque ribbons and a black cape with feather embellishments.
While we're excited about the clothes themselves, the best part of all is the campaign's stunning photos, which feature NYCB corps dancers Lara Tong, Olivia Boisson, Mimi Staker, Unity Phelan and Rachel Hutsell wearing some of the new looks. And the "Do You" message, encouraging self-confidence and individuality, can't be beat.
The collection launches on February 1, and will be available in stores and online.
It's nothing new for athletes to be sponsored by sports brands, but it's relatively rare for the same opportunity to be extended to professional dancers. Misty Copeland is famously a spokesperson for Under Armour, and her participation in the "I will what I want" campaign helped catapult ballet into a position of visibility. Copeland's unmistakably athletic body shows how hard ballet dancers train to achieve their goals.
Now, in a new partnership, the dancers of New York City Ballet will have their active wear sponsored by PUMA. It feels timely, as "athleisure" stays trendy for everyone and dancers are increasingly adding athletic gear to their arsenal of leotards, tights and practice skirts. Additionally, thanks largely to Copeland's prominence, ballet has enjoyed some pop culture recognition in the last few years, making the glamor and prestige of a NYCB endorsement beneficial for PUMA.
Apparently the partnership extends beyond stylish workout clothes, too. In a statement, PUMA says the two companies will "explore ways for PUMA to support a variety of NYCB initiatives, including the ballet company’s education, audience development and dancer health and wellness efforts."
We're all for investment in dancer health and wellness, and if a global sports brand wants to get involved in audience building for a ballet company, well, we're excited to see where that might lead. In the meantime, keep an eye out for NYCB dancers in upcoming PUMA marketing campaigns.