Ahhh the love of tutu skirts. You see ballerinas wearing them on stage – they are beautiful, ethereal, glittery – like moving pieces of art. But, that was not always the case. The modern image of the ballerina, before becoming what it is today, has undergone quite a lot of changes. Until the second half of the XIX century, ballerinas used to perform on stage wearing elegant dresses and high heels. With time, they began to wear airy, translucent dresses with an overstated waist, tights, and sandals. As their performing techniques became more complicated, their choice of clothing became lighter.
Today you can find these lovelies in all kinds of designs, colours, sizes, and lengths. The cutest ones are definitely the kids tutu skirt models, but there are also more classy ones that come at knee length and can be spotted on runway shows, wedding receptions, and even on the streets. They definitely have the power to leave a fashionable statement – some play down the flirty, girly vibe by pairing them with lace and pastel colours, while others ground the dramatic versions with causal tank tops and tees. Imagine your baby girl wearing a lovely kids tutu skirt paired with a Minnie Mouse t-shirt. Cuteness overload.
Now let’s talk history. The first tutu skirt design was introduced in 1839. When performing in the ballet troupe, Marie Taglioni wore a costume that had a tulle skirt – designed by her father Filippo Taglioni. Some dancers didn’t really like the idea, however, the enthusiasm of the spectators and art critics who admired the airiness of the dancers wearing the outfit, contributed to the costume becoming a timeless classic. As a matter of fact, Marie Taglioni was also the first ballerina who could stand on her toes.
It was Adelina Djuri, a ballerina of the Bolshoi Theather, that first introduced the short tutu skirt in the early 1900s. She didn’t like the long skirt in which she had to pose in front of photographers and simply took the scissors and cut a big piece of it. But it was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the tutu skirt acquired the form that we know today.
The modern tutu skirt has a few versions – there is the classical skirt which has a dozen layers of stiff tulle sewn on a pantie and basque at hip level. The pancake tutu is supported by a hoop and is very flat, with few ruffles. The Platter tutu looks like the pancake but instead of at the hip, it sits at the waist. The Romantic tutu still has the shape of Marie Taglioni’s original costume but it is made of modern materials that make it lighter and more transparent.
The making of a real tutu skirt is not that easy as it requires certain skills regarding how to fold the fabric. Generally, the production of one tutu skirt involves 11 meters of tule and about two weeks of work on it. Sometimes, if there is something specific that needs to be done on a skirt, the tutu skirt is sewn by hand, right on the dancer before going up on stage. It may sound crazy, but that’s how sometimes things are done in the ballet world!