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Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    Vienna (city) (made)

  • Date:

    1964 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Georgiadis, Nicholas, born 1923 - died 2001 (costume designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Nylon net, sequins, dark navy blue and gold lamé, lace, gold braid and pearl drops

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of www.sherringtons.co.uk and the Friends of Margot Fonteyn Appeal

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

Nicholas Georgiadis designed this superb dark navy blue (so dark that it appears black under stage lighting) and silver tutu worn by Margot Fonteyn as Odile in Act III of Swan Lake in Vienna in 1964. She and Rudolf Nureyev were a huge success in the ballet, receiving 49 curtain calls on the first night.

Although a highly conventional style, the tutu does, in fact, subtly change over the years. In the 1950s, most tutu skirts were flat and rigid, and are often referred to as 'plate' tutus. This tutu is an example of the style of the 1960s and early 1970s, when the skirts softened into a gentle droop. The softer line suited Fonteyn at that late stage of her career, as did the bodice decoration, which subtly breaks up the surface without becoming fussy, with the main decoration concentrated at centre front. The skill in designing tutu bodices, which Georgiadis understood well, is to use decoration that will be practical for partnering; too many jewels or encrustations can cut a partner's hands. Odile, the swan princess, has been dressed in white since Swan Lake was created in 1890, but the convention of dressing the evil Odile in black is a later development - Alicia Markova wore red when she danced Odile for the Vic-Wells (now Royal) Ballet in 1934. Black is now so widely accepted, that for over fifty years the Act III pas de deux has been called the Black Swan pas de deux.

Physical description

Classical tutu, the skirt of layers of dark navy blue nylon net, the topskirt studded with silver sequins. The low-cut bodice extends on to the hips, and is of dark navy blue and gold lamé overlaid with dark navy blue heavy lace, divided into segments by patterns of gold braid. At the centre front, is a decoration of stylized foliage, made of beige net stiffened at the edges with gold braid and studded with pearl drops.

Place of Origin

Vienna (city) (made)


1964 (made)


Georgiadis, Nicholas, born 1923 - died 2001 (costume designer)

Materials and Techniques

Nylon net, sequins, dark navy blue and gold lamé, lace, gold braid and pearl drops


:, Width: 90 cm, Depth: 80 cm

Object history note

The costume was worn by Margot Fonteyn in the 1964 production of Swan Lake at the Vienna Opera, designed by Nicholas Georgiadis. It was probably made in the wardrobe of the Opera, instead of by Fonteyn's usual tutu-maker, Marjorie Rogers.

Historical significance: The dual role of Odette-Odile was one of Fonteyn's greatest interpretations. She danced the role throughout her career, both in the Royal Ballet productions and in many different productions as guest artist with companies throughout the world. One of the most memorable was with Rudolf Nureyev in the Vienna production of 1964 designed by Nicholas Georgiadis, when the dancers were accorded an unprecedented 49 curtain calls. This Odile tutu is an excellent symbol of Fonteyn's career after she left the Royal Ballet and embarked on her 'Indian Summer' as an international guest artist with Nureyev. Georgiadis' conception is an excellent contrast to the 1950s Royal Ballet Leslie Hurry-designed Odile tutu (worn by Anya Linden) already in the Museum collection.

Descriptive line

Costume designed by Nicholas Georgiadis and worn by Margot Fonteyn as Odile in Swan Lake, Vienna Ballet at the State Opera House, Vienna, 1964


Nylon net; Sequins; Lamé; Lace; Gold braid; Pearls (imitation)


Machine stitching; Hand stitching


Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes


Theatre and Performance Collection

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