Barbara Karinska
POSTED ON08.04.2021
If you have ever seen ballets by George Balanchine, you know her name very well: Barbara Karinska, costume designer of many of his works.

Barbara, or Varvara, was born in the Russian Empire, in Kharkov, in 1886. She lived in Moscow, Berlin, Brussels, Paris and London, where she was selling her own embroideries and linens, making traditional Russian headdresses, creating costumes for cabarets and operettas.

In 1939, she moved to New York and went on to construct and design costumes for opera, dance, on Broadway and in Hollywood. She even got an Oscar for her costumes for “Joan of Arc”, but she became world famous for her cooperation with George Balanchine.

All in all she created costumes for over 70 ballets by Balanchine and all of them are known as “a promise of complete visual beauty for the spectator and complete delight for the dancer, be it prima ballerina, premier danseur or a member of the corps de ballet.” Her influence on the world of ballet is immense. Not only did she create the iconic looks of “Jewels”, “Symphony in C”, “Serenade”, “Waltz” and “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux”, but also she modified the traditional tutu.

Her “powder puff” tutu is shorter, less stiff and doesn’t have a wire hoop. This design has become standard all over the world after it first appeared in “Symphony in C”.

What is your favourite costume by Barbara Karinska?

American Ballet Theatre   by Barbara Karinska ballet costume designerby Barbara Karinska ballet costume designerby Barbara Karinska ballet costume designer
by Barbara Karinska ballet costume designer   by Barbara Karinska ballet costume designer

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