Name of the Rose: Sotheby’s, Carine Roitfeld Team on Ballet Project

Samantha Conti
·4 min read

LONDON — Carine Roitfeld has teamed with Sotheby’s on two projects that span fashion, fine jewelry and contemporary dance inspired by the Ballets Russes.

Roitfeld, the longtime creative director and CR Fashion Book founder, has styled two ballerinas from the Opéra National de Paris, who are performing in a contemporary version of the the Ballets Russes’ “Le Spectre de la Rose.”

On Monday, Nov. 2, the auction house will host an in-conversation with Roitfeld about her work on the costumes for the ballet, which stars Bianca Scudamore and Naïs Duboscq. It will also screen the performance online.

Both events are linked to the upcoming sale of an ultra-rare Russian pink diamond, known as The Spirit of the Rose, at Sotheby’s Geneva flagship on Nov. 11.

The 14.83-carat, fancy vivid purple-pink diamond was mined and cut by Alrosa. It will lead Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction, with a price estimate ranging from $23 million to $38 million.

The diamond itself was named after “Le Spectre de la Rose,” the ballet premiered by Sergey Dyagilev’s Ballets Russes in 1911, and made famous by Vaslav Nijinsky, the virtuoso ballet dancer and choreographer.

The rough diamond was the largest pink crystal ever mined in Russia, and was called The Nijinsky.

Gary Schuler, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry division, said the occurrence of pink diamonds in nature is “extremely rare, in any size.”

He said that having the opportunity to offer “a large, polished pink diamond of more than 10 carats and with the richness of color and purity of The Spirit of the Rose is truly exceptional. It is a natural wonder, steeped in Russia’s century-long diamond tradition and cultural heritage.”

In an interview, Roitfeld said it was her friend and former colleague Karl Lagerfeld who taught her so much about ballet.

One of her main inspirations for the costumes, she added, was a black-and-white picture of Nijinsky that Lagerfeld had given her, that shows the dancer in a Harlequin costume.

The triangle pattern on the tights worn by one of the ballerinas is a reference to the Harlequin costume.

“I have always loved ballet, and I am half French, so it’s in my DNA. But I also worked with Karl Lagerfeld for 10 years, and he taught me so much. ‘Le Spectre de la Rose,’ was his favorite ballet ever,” she said.

Roitfeld added that she is also a fan of Nijinsky’s, and pointed out that he was an extraordinary man in many ways and had an unusual build for a dancer.

“He was small with short legs, and he would have found it difficult to dance today because of that. Size requirements for dancers are very different today.”

She also said he was a vegetarian, “which was unusual at the time,” especially because he was living in Russia.

For the costumes, Roitfeld chose a long, black Bottega Veneta dress by Daniel Lee and a cocktail dress from the London-based designer Nensi Dojaka.

Dojaka graduated from Central Saint Martins last year, and this is the first time the designer is dressing a ballerina. Roitfeld said she is always on the alert for new talent, “and I think what Nensi does is fantastic. I knew she was perfect for the job.”

Roitfeld contacted Dojaka over Instagram about the project, and the two connected immediately.

“The ballet is traditionally performed by a man and a woman. As we’re having two ballerinas dance for this performance, I wanted to preserve that duality, but express it differently,” said Roitfeld.

“One girl is wearing a rather classic, long black dress while the other one wears a short deconstructed cocktail dress with tights, in a more sort of punk way. This is expressed through hair and make-up as well.

“I wanted both looks to be black. First because black is definitely my signature. But also, because I wanted to have this symbiotic feeling when both bodies interact with each other.”

Roitfeld added that she took fit into consideration, too, as the dresses had to be easy to move in, and comfortable.

On Nov. 2, Roitfeld will speak alongside Tamara Rojo, artistic director and lead principal of the English National Ballet; dance writer Ismene Brown, and Benoit Repellin, Sotheby’s jewelry specialist in charge of the Geneva sale.

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