The designers that have made beautiful worlds for The Australian Ballet

Showcasing ballet design
Since The Australian Ballet’s earliest years, its productions have featured the best of local and international design. Unlike many ballet companies, The Australian Ballet has its own costume department, where skilled artisans turn the visions of our creatives into textured, coloured, breathing, glowing reality. This showcase collects the work of some of our landmark designers. We celebrate the intricate layers of Kristian Fredrikson, the underwater fantasies of Hugh Colman, the sleek second skins of Jennifer Irwin, the gypsy swirls of Barry Kay and so much more. On with the costumes – and on with the show! 
Kristian Fredrikson
The legend. Designer of both sets and costumes, creator of both the starkly simple and the richly intricate, Fredrikson had a deep knowledge of period costume and a seemingly endless imagination. His collaborations, particularly with Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon, went far beyond decor: he was a shaper of ideas, and as the dance historian Caitlyn Lehmann put it, an "architect of extraordinary worlds". 
Hugh Colman
For decades, Hugh Colman, a celebrated designer of both sets and costumes, has brought a luscious and palpable elegance to The Australian Ballet’s stage. The zephyrous lightness of his fairies for Maina Gielgud's The Sleeping Beauty, his moonlit swans and sumptuous court for Stephen Baynes' Swan Lake, and his fanciful fish and blossoms for Petal Miller-Ashmole's Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are just some of the memorable Colman moments. He is a master of the tutu, meticulous about period harmony, and a purveyor of good old theatrical magic.  
Barry Kay
Performing with Rudolf Nureyev in his production of Don Quixote was a watershed for The Australian Ballet. When Nureyev decided to make his 1974 film of the ballet with the company, it put them on the international map. Barry Kay's costumes for Don Quixote - effervescent, crayon-bright, lavishly beaded and frilled - seemed to exemplify the young company's exuberance. They are still used today for a production fondly regarded as an integral part of The Australian Ballet's history. 
Jennifer Irwin
Textures like coral, colours that melt into the skin, layers of painting and printing, irridescence, gleams. It has to be Jennifer Irwin, whose distinguished career in costume design has led her down long collaborative paths with the likes of Graeme Murphy (their relationship has spanned 30 years) and Bangarra Dance Theatre's Stephen Page (she's worked with him for 20). Both Murphy and Page have brought Irwin on board in key projects with The Australian Ballet such as Rites and The Narrative of Nothing. 
Kenneth Rowell
A painter as well as a designer, Kenneth Rowell had a long association with The Australian Ballet and set the tone for its most significant productions of the late 60s and early 70s. He designed the company's first full-length production of The Sleeping Beauty and dressed ambitious modern works like Robert Helpmann's Perisynthion. Geometric, boldly coloured and piled with cabochon jewels, his costumes were often hand-painted by his wife, Victoria Rowell. 
Gabriela Tylesova
The award-winning Tylesova never thinks in a straight line. Her lavish designs spiral, curl and burgeon with an almost botanical vitality. She worked with The Australian Ballet for the first time on Schéhérazade, but it was her design for David McAllister's 2015 production of The Sleeping Beauty that allowed her vision full rein. A gilded, glittering, fairytale version of the Baroque, loaded with petals and peacocks, it regularly draws gasps when the curtain is raised. 
Akira Isogawa
What happens when a world-renowned fashion designer meets ballet? Surprising, electric, breathtaking things. Akira Isogawa's designs for Graeme Murphy's Romeo & Juliet put The Australian Ballet's dancers into flesh-soft leathers and gauzes peaked like meringues, icicle-pale ball gowns and Bollywood-inspired finery. The Prince of Darkness stalked through scenes in a runway-ready, high-collared black coat.
Anna French
This astonishingly versatile designer has a long collaborative relationship with Stephen Baynes, one of The Australian Ballet's resident choreographers. The Doric simplicity of Beyond Bach, the riotous colour and wit of Molto Vivace, the Golden Hollywood glamour of Raymonda: all are the product of French's boundless invention and incisive eye. 
Angus Strathie
Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge, Catwoman, the Age of Adeline: Angus Strathie designed for them all (winning an Oscar for Moulin Rouge). In 2003, we had a special moment with him when he designed the costumes for Meryl Tankard's Wild Swans. His creations for this dark-edged fairytale would not have been out of place on a runway - or in an art gallery. Glow worms in cones of pleats, village gossips in newsprint couture, a heroine in brave scarlet and so much more.
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