All That Glitters

Both the ballet and fashion worlds are still abuzz about the costumes Valentino Garavani designed for New York City Ballet's gala last week. Jewelry designer Robert Sorrell, of Sorrell Originals, added extra sparkle to the glamorous ensembles with his elegant headpieces. Pointe talked to Sorrell about his creations.

How did you get involved with this project?
I had a really good connection: Marc Happel, the costume director of New York City Ballet. He’s an old friend, and every once in a while he’ll ring me up for a project. In this case, Mr. Valentino wanted headpieces that were more like real jewelry than the embroidered pieces the company normally uses.

Talk about the pieces you made. How did you complement Valentino's vision?
Most of the pieces were based on sketches done by an artist who works for Valentino. Sometimes they submitted fairly detailed references for me to work from, and in those cases I really didn’t design much of anything. With Mr. Valentino, sometimes you just do as you’re told! On the other hand, there were a couple of pieces that didn't have sketches at all. At one point, Mr. Valentino and I were discussing the feeling he wanted for one of those pieces, and he said he wanted something romantic. I said, "When I think romantic, I think motifs like bows"—and he said, "Yes, bows, I like bows!" So I made him rhinestone bows with red stones in the center, a design based on a single word. And then when he saw the bows, he reinterpreted them into a shape that looked like a feather.

You've done a lot of designs for stage productions. What special considerations do you have to make for dancers in particular?
You have to make sure things look delicate but are actually very strong. You assume that a production will remain in the repertory for many years, so you don't want people running back to you all the time for repairs. And of course everything has to be lightweight and have plenty of places for hairpins, so that nothing goes flying off during turns. Let's face it: Ballerinas are athletes. They move around a lot!

Which of the Valentino pieces were you especially pleased with?
There's one emerald-cut crystal headband, which is almost like a little tiara. According to the drawing it was supposed to receive little white feathers, so I left a place behind it where they could be attached. And it really carried onstage—you could see it beautifully from a distance.

Latest Posts


Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

NYCB's Maria Kowroski Reflects on the Challenges, Joys and Mysteries of Balanchine’s "Mozartiana"

The first time I was called to learn Mozartiana, I didn't think I would actually get to do it. It's a coveted ballerina role in the company, and I was still early in my career. But I got to dance it once or twice, and then not again for many years. The ballet isn't in our repertoire that often, so each time we've performed it I've been at a different level as a person and as an artist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Ask Amy: How Can I Overcome My Fear of Pirouettes on Pointe?

I have a terrible fear of falling when doing turns on pointe. I sometimes cry in class when we have to do new turns that I'm not used to. I can only do bad singles on a good day, while some of my classmates are doing doubles and triples. How can I get over this fear? —Gaby

Keep reading SHOW LESS
xmb photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet

The Washington Ballet's Sarah Steele on Her At-Home Workouts

Ballet at home: Since she's not preparing for any immediate performances, Steele takes ballet barre three to four times a week. "I'm working in more of a maintenance mode," she says, prioritizing her ankles and the intrinsic muscles in her feet. "If you don't work those muscles, they disappear really quickly. I've been focusing on a baseline level of ballet muscle memory."

What she's always working on: Strengthening her glute-hamstring connection (the "under-butt" area), which provides stability for actions like repetitive relevés and power for jumps. Bridges are her go-to move for conditioning those muscles. "Those 'basic food group'–type exercises are some of the best ones," she says.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks