The dancers, the most controversial women’s shoes in history, may be about to make the most unexpected comeback of the season. For many, it may seem like a nightmare, a childhood memory, or a deja-vu of a time when our mother made us put on a vaporous tutu and humiliate ourselves in front of a classical dance teacher.
Leotards, wallet sweaters, turtlenecks, shrugs, flared leggings, tight coats, and, most importantly, half-tips have been making a comeback in the feeds thanks to TikTok for a few months now. According to Pinterest, the number of searches for this dance genre have surged by 1566% in recent months, while on TikTok, the hashtag #balletcore has received over six million views. But thanks to Miu Miu’s Fall/Winter 2022 fashion show, another microtrend has made its way into the public. There, traditional dance shoes adopted a completely unexpected appearance when paired with thick ribbed socks, chiffon accessories, miniskirts, and leather bomber jackets. Result? Balletcore has returned in a more sexier form than we were used to.
Ballet and fashion have always been closely related, as evidenced by Dior’s iconic 1947 cover, which established the ballerina as the ideal female shoe for everyday wear, Yves Saint Laurent’s 1976 Russian Collection, which brought Russian dancers’ costumes to the catwalk, Viktor & Rolf’s SS17 Couture tulle metrics, and Simone Rocha’s hyper-feminine aesthetic in the collection inspired by Irish folklore. The same is true of the male alternative, which was put forth by Comme Des Garçons, Gucci, Jil Sander, Maison Margiela, Palomo Spagna, and Dries Van Noten. Designers including London-based Molly Goddard, Zimmermann, Valentino, Christian Lacroix, as well as celebrities like Alexa Chung and Paloma Elsesser, have all welcomed the revival of this form.While Zara collaborated with the New York City Ballet for the collection inspired by classical dance, which included leotards, tulle blouses, and fishnet garments, Harry Styles recently reminded the world of the inherently genderless nature of ballet attire at SNL. Ballet is both a sport and an art that was originally the exclusive domain of men and was born in Russia in the early 1900s.
Of course, balletcore is the next development in the most regal gradation of sportswear. In a style of spotswear inspired by the 2010 dark drama Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers and Mila Kunis as Lily, as well as the Twee fashion of the early 2010, say goodbye to snug lycra and nylon and hello to cotton and cashmere. Balletcore promotes hyperfemininity, but like other Tumblr-era genres, it has a complicated backstory and is associated with the cliché of the innocent, white, and extremely slim dancer—the product of diet culture and aesthetic standards that are quite out of date now.The dancers now have a new artistic, ethical, and physical quality. From the most traditional hues of powder pink, baby blue, and white to brilliant red, Miu Miu adds stiletto heels and fresh hues to the seasonal trend. The new generation of slippers has a simpler design, in leather or satin, and comes with a simple logoed elastic strap as opposed to the brand’s SS16 collection, which for the first time brought cult pumps with ribbons and buckles to the forefront. Balletcore is undoubtedly here to stay.