Exclusive: Joseph Altuzarra on Designing Costumes for the New York City Ballet

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Ballet and fashion fans alike were delighted to learn that Joseph Altuzarra would be designing costumes for a brand-new ballet for the New York City Ballet. The pas de deux debuted last week at the company's spring gala, and initiated Altuzarra into the ranks of fellow top designers — Rodarte, J. Mendel, and Valentino, among them — who have created fashions for ballet performances. We spoke to Altuzarra about his latest designer collaboration, and his thoughts on every woman's spring closet must-haves.

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Marie Claire: You designed the costumes for the new ballet debuting tonight! What are you most looking forward to?

Joseph Altuzarra: I mean, I love the ballet, but I also worked interestingly with one of the choreographers, Christopher Wheeldon, on the costumes for the ballet tonight. It was an incredible — and I mean incredible — experience. It was very freeing, artistically, to be able to work beyond the confines of the identity of my brand.

MC: What was something that you found was completely unique about the process of designing for tonight's ballet?

JA: Well the construction and the functionality of it is obviously very different. Of course, it has to be washed every night and it can't move around too much because of the ways the male partner is handling the female partner. But also working on Robbie Fairchild's [principal dancer with the New York City Ballet] costume was the first time I was ever really doing menswear. So it's not classic menswear because it's ballet, but it was interesting.

MC: What are three items every women must have in her wardrobe for spring?

JA: Can one of them be mine?

MC: Of course!

JA: I'll say an engineered striped jacket, because it's like summer denim. I think a silk printed button-down shirt is always a really good staple for spring. And then a high-heeled sandal.

Photo: Courtesy of Paul Kolnik, WSJ

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