Costume for Margot Fonteyn as Odelie in “Swan Lake”
Nicholas Georgiadis designed this superb black and silver tutu worn by Margot Fonteyn as Odile in Act III of Swan Lake in Vienna in 1964. She and Rudolf Nureyev were a huge success in the ballet, receiving 49 curtain calls on the first night. Although a highly conventional style, the tutu does, in fact, subtly change over the years. In the 1950s, most tutu skirts were flat and rigid, and are often referred to as ‘plate’ tutus. This tutu is an example of the style of the 1960s and early 1970s, when the skirts softened into a gentle droop. The softer line suited Fonteyn at that late stage of her career, as did the bodice decoration, which subtly breaks up the surface without becoming fussy, with the main decoration concentrated at centre front. The skill in designing tutu bodices, which Georgiadis understood well, is to use decoration that will be practical for partnering; too many jewels or encrustations can cut a partner’s hands. Odile, the swan princess, has been dressed in white since Swan Lake was created in 1890, but the convention of dressing the evil Odile in black is a later development - Alicia Markova wore red when she danced Odile for the Vic-Wells (now Royal) Ballet in 1934. Black is now so widely accepted, that for over fifty years the Act III pas de deux has been called the Black Swan pas de deux.