Russian Costuming

From Russia to North America:
Ballet Costume Designing

Leon Bakst Self PortraitLéon Bakst (b. 1866), was a costume designer from Belarus, then part of Russia. The young artist made his mark on the dance and ballet world through his work with Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. He created both scenc pieces and costume ensembles for the storied company.

Ironically Bakst failed his entrance exam to St. Petersburg, Russia’s Imperial Academy of Arts but managed to attend as a non-credit student. Despite the rocky start, Bakst moved to Paris, a hot-bed of artistic creativity, in 1893. Art Nouveau came to prominence in Paris and Bakst joined the movement to discard the more classical arts and create new work featuring intricate and decorative linear designs and motifs based on natural forms.

Sleeping Beauty Bakst Costume Design SketchIt was in Western Europe that Bakst worked with the Ballets Russes and Diaghilev, and demand for his commissions grew. Prominent patrons like the Rothschilds and successful productions like Carnaval, Sleeping Beauty and Scheherazade gave him notability and esteem. Bakst returned to Russia as an accomplished artist and was elected as a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts.
He escaped to America after the 1917 Revolution and showcased work in two exhibitions. His waning health brought him finally back to Paris, where he passed away in 1924.


Compare Leon Bakst's & Moscow Ballet's Arthur Oliver's Costume Design Sketches

Moscow Ballet follows in the footsteps of Ballets Russes in its efforts to bring tales, music, and motifs from Russian folklore to Western audiences. Likewise, Léon Bakst’s wildly creative expression inspires Moscow Ballet’s rich costuming and set design. Above, compare Bakst's Scheherazade to the Arabian Variation, and see elaborate designs from both L'oiseau de Feu (The Firebird) and Uncle Drosselmeyer.


Bring home one of Moscow Ballet’s costume sketches today!


Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Costume Design Sketch MugCeramic Mug

Start your day off right drinking your morning beverage from this Nutcracker Costume Design Ceramic Mug that depicts the first dreams of costumes from the acclaimed classic Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker! These mugs show the early stages of design from the beloved production. 

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Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Costume Design Reusable Tote BagTote Bag

Take your favorite characters from Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker with you everywhere you go, in the sun or in the snow, with the Nutcracker Costume Design Canvas! Watch the video above and click here to read more about the process of getting from sketchbook to stages across North America in this interview with Moscow Ballet Costume Designer Arthur Oliver. 

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Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Costume Design Sketch CanvasCanvas

Bring home a piece of history from the acclaimed classic Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker! Which Nutcracker characters do you see here? Compare the Nutcracker Costume Design Canvas sketches to what you've seen on stage with Harlequin, Drosselmeyer, the Act II variations and more

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