Don't expect to catch Simone Messmer wearing a leotard—at least, not for company class. “Ballet class is for me," she says. “It happens every day, so it turns into a major part of how you set yourself up for the day and how you're feeling. I think it's really important to take control of that." In class, the Miami City Ballet principal prefers comfortable separates with clean lines and long sleeves. When it's time for rehearsal, she'll bring out her leotards and tights. “And I tend to bring the skirt or tutu that's appropriate for the role. I try to start right away, to get a feeling for it," she says.
When it comes to style, James Whiteside likes to push the limits. “Conforming isn't really my thing," says the American Ballet Theatre principal. He chooses pieces that express his personality, while always leaving room to experiment with new ideas. “I haven't really married myself to one aesthetic, and that gives me a lot of options," he says. “One day I'll be preppy, next day I'll be super-urban, then I can be all tattered and '50s. I like to keep an open mind." In the studio, he sports knits and crop tops, and dyes his hair funky colors when the repertoire allows. It works well for ballets like The Sleeping Beauty (in which he wears a wig) or contemporary work. “But if I'm playing Romeo, this wouldn't make sense," he says. Whiteside is influenced by everything from Japanese anime to '90s boy bands to New York City itself, a place he's always wanted to live. “It's so inspiring walking around the city," he says. “Some people are just killing it. Anybody can buy fashion, but having style is a completely different thing."
Kyle From for Pointe
Keenan Kampa counts Alexa Chung and Iris Apfel among her fashion inspirations, but her favorite style icon is someone she considers one of her best friends. “Not to be weird," she says, “but I really loved my grandfather's style. He was this badass marine nuclear physicist, but then also this old Irish man." His oversized button-ups in plaid or denim (“he always liked a front pocket," she adds) have become a staple of her wardrobe. She favors comfortable, flattering pieces that work with her active lifestyle—you'll often find her riding her bike—in neutral tones like black, white or head-to-toe denim. “If I'm going to do a color, I commit to it and do it all," she says. In the studio, loose-fitting layers are her go-to. “I hate when I feel like I can't reach a line fully because of clothing restrictions, and leotards that are too tight," she says, adding that sometimes she'll wear swimsuits instead. “I'm at kind of a different stage than I was a few years ago. I used to go to class with things that were a little bit more fun and flashy. Now it's just things that make me feel good."
When asked to describe her style, Adji Cissoko's answer is short and sweet. “I would say 'pink casual,' " she laughs. “I'm like the pink girl of the company. Everyone gives me pink things." When she shops for herself, she likes browsing thrift shops in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, or buying funky, colorful pieces from stores like Zara or Desigual. “I definitely find more when I'm not really looking for anything," she says. She brings the same sense of fun into the studio, often recycling old clothes—like a favorite pink button-down—into dancewear. As a taller dancer, she looks for pants with extra length, from brands like Lululemon. “They have warm-up pants that are long enough and fit well," she says, “and the material is great because when you plié they're not going to rip." The one time pink is off the table? “I used to wear pink tights for more classical rep and black tights if I was doing contemporary stuff," she says, “but now that my rep is always in the contemporary area, I feel like I never wear pink tights anymore."
Yuan Yuan Tan is one of San Francisco Ballet's most stunning classical dancers, but her flair for timeless elegance reaches beyond the stage. Her street look is grounded in clean silhouettes and dark shades, but has an edge; she loves leather and isn't afraid of a pop of color. “I look up to Audrey Hepburn, Cate Blanchett and Maggie Cheung for fashion inspiration," says Tan. The one thing she truly couldn't live without? Earrings—but not just any pair. “I got a pair of antique crystal earrings in Prague in 1999, and I wear them onstage for good luck."
Outside class and rehearsal, Jeanette Delgado sports a laid-back look. But she rarely goes without a pop of pattern or color—a boho touch inspired by her Miami roots. “Growing up here is a part of me," she says. “The weather, the lifestyle. I'm a mix of all that." Delgado's biggest fashion agenda is lengthening her petite 5' 2" frame: Pancaked shoes and full-length tights elongate her line inside the studio, while outside, high-waisted shorts give the illusion that she's all legs. Her secret to adding a few inches of height? She sometimes buys dresses that are too long and hides heels underneath.
Diana Vishneva likes a little extravagance. Her preferred fashion labels include Céline and Marni. On tour, she carries Louis Vuitton bags, custom made to tote not just clothing and toiletries but also her tutus and pointe shoes. Each piece is stamped with her initials, DV. When asked about her most prized items, though, she sways toward sentiment. “I got a gift from Natalia Makarova, a shawl made from goat wool. I take it with me everywhere,” she says. “And there are the warm socks my mom has been knitting for me since my childhood. If you can believe it, she still makes them for me today.” It seems that even the biggest stars can’t live without their creature comforts.
Vishneva likes dance attire that transitions easily. Her preference for stylish comfort was evident when Pointe caught up with her during her recent performances in Costa Mesa, California, where she sported lightweight pants, simple ballet flats and a jacket casually layered over an easy T-shirt. She usually opts for cool blue and gray tones. “I don’t like shiny or bright,” she says.
“Dance isn’t about fashion. It’s more important that my body feels warm and I can keep it at a good temperature,” says Vishneva. That’s why she layers: tights under pants and socks under ballet shoes. And she likes to mix dancewear and athletic wear, depending on whether she’s rehearsing classical or contemporary work.
When it comes to his look outside the studio, American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes errs on the formal side. “Now that I'm choreographing, I often have lunch meetings with designers and composers," he says. “It's easier to not have to think about what I wear and just put on a suit." At our shoot, he wore a wool jacket, accented with leather-paneled sleeves, over a classic flannel ensemble. His latest purchase? “A green blazer made entirely of velvet," he laughs—a touch of retro elegance, like Gomes himself.
Photo by Kyle Froman
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You’ll never catch this San Francisco Ballet star looking ordinary. Kochetkova fills her wardrobe with bold one-of-a-kind finds and pieces that make her laugh. But what’s most impressive is how she puts everything together into fantastical outfits that are truly her own. “I’m always mixing different prints that most people would say are unmixable,” she says. “I don’t think about it—it just happens. My style is just a part of whoever I happen to be on a certain day.”
American Apparel top: “American Apparel clothes are loose and light, and don’t make me look like a Barbie ballerina.”
Phobos Bodywear skirt: “I bought this when I was in Amsterdam learning Cinderella. I like how it’s cut high in the front so you can see your legs, and the flow of the material makes it nice to move in.”
Feathers Dancewear legwarmers: “These are made by a dancer I used to work with at English National Ballet. Clothes made by dancers are more grown up, and quite different from what you usually see in ballet shops.”
Julien David button-down: “This print has ducks and dinosaurs, though I like to pretend they’re dragons. I like dragons.”
Tatiana Parfionova coat: “This designer uses a lot of Russian folklore, and when she put out a collection with swans, I had to have something!”
Pants by contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama: “Whenever I see artists collaborating with fashion brands, I try to get a piece. What they create is often quite unusual.”
When it comes to fashion, this Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet dancer is fearless. She will unabashedly wear a leotard—and just a leotard—out clubbing with friends, or put on a pair of five-inch Giuseppe Zanotti heels to go to work. “The great thing about living in New York is that there’s so many different people with different influences, you can be yourself,” she says. “I can go out in a bow-tie or suspenders or a full-body catsuit.” Williams’ biggest fashion influence is her mom, who always dolled her up in pumps and dresses as a kid. “She likes me to have style, to look like a girl. And to make sure I’m not coming out of the house looking crazy.”
Crop top: ?“This used to be a unitard that I wore once while dancing with Beyoncé. I just cut off the legs.?”
Earrings: “I always wear earrings, even when I’m dancing. They’re a little decoration for the face, especially when I don’t want to wear makeup.”
Pants from a boutique in Puerto Rico: “I need some color on my body when I dance. Too much black kills me.”
Blazer from Zara: “My pop of color.”
Top: “It’s got an open back, which is my signature look.”
Leather shorts: “I work hard for my body. Why not show a little skin?”
Heels: “I have 50 pairs of heels at home, and more in storage. I can do anything in heels: go out after rehearsal, run to catch a bus—no problem.”
The Joffrey dancer doesn't think of herself as fashionable, but she loves to shop. “I can always come up with a reason. I'll say to my husband, 'That was a really good show—let's go shopping!' Or, 'That didn't go well—let's go shopping.' " Luckily, her husband, fellow Joffrey dancer Temur Suluashvili, is actually the bigger fashion hound. The couple usually ends up at Zara because, Jaiani says, the store's daring looks fit her philosophy: She sees each ensemble as an experiment. “I want to have fun with what I'm wearing. Clothes are more about your attitude than the pieces you buy."
Photo by Quinn Wharton
How does this New York City Ballet principal describe her style? “I recently met Drew Barrymore, and she was like, ‘You have such a rock star vibe—not at all what I’d expect of a ballerina!’ ” Mearns says. Black dominates, even in the summer. “Once it gets hot, I only wear dresses, but nothing too girly or colorful.” She spices up a muted ensemble with statement pieces, like an Alexander McQueen skull scarf or an oversized ring from Swarovski—she treats herself to a piece from the store at the end of every season. “I’m obsessed with sparkle,” she says. “Even my leg warmers have sequins.”
Purple scarf: “I always wear this for class. I like to feel bundled up.”
Freed of London pointe shoes, T maker: “I went through 250 pairs last year, second most in the company.”
American Apparel leotard: “The nylon fabric breathes better than cotton, and it has a low front, which looks nicer on my shorter neck.”
Wedged sneakers from Target: “My mom buys a lot of my shoes, usually from Target. Recently, though, she got me my first pair of Louboutins: purple ankle booties.”
Black jeans: “Dark colors are more slimming on my legs. My best fashion investment was a pair of black leather pants from Ralph Lauren; they’re the warmest things ever.”
Cole Haan purse: “I use it as my dance bag and my everyday bag—it’s big enough for my shoes, and has shiny gold horsehair on the side.”
Jacket from H&M in Germany: “Yes, it’s missing a button. So me.”