Ballet’s Best Headdresses

Posted on 08 April 2020 By Rose Mulready

No one’s going on an Easter Parade right now, but plenty of people are dressing up for fun in bedrooms and on balconies. Looking for some Easter bonnet inspiration? No one knows how to top off a killer costume like a ballet designer. Here are some of our favourite crowning glories.


In Peggy van Praagh's Coppélia, the lovers' wedding is attended by some supernatural beauties, including Dawn, who brings the first light to shine on the happy couple. Designer Kristian Fredrikson gives her a frothy frou-frou of cream and gold plumes, like clouds gilded by a rising sun. 

Jill Ogai, Photography Kate Longley


The mean stepsisters in Alexei Ratmansky's Cinderella just won't give up on the Prince ... but their feet just won't fit in that shoe! Perhaps if it had been the size of their Jérôme Kaplan-designed hats, based on Elsa Schiaparelli's Surrealist original, they would have been in with a chance ... 

Eloise Fryer and Ingrid Gow. Photography Jeff Busby


Tiaras ... they're as essential to ballerinas as pointe shoes and tutus. Victor Gsovsky's Grand pas classique shows the classical ballerina at the height of her regal powers - poised, haughty and glittering with icy radiance. She's topped off by a fabulous halo of jewelled flowers, its shape evoking Russian royalty. Tsarina, but make it fouetté-ready. 

Benedicte Bemet. Photography Kate Longley


As you'd expect, Desmond Heeley's design for Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow is full of the swooping picture hats that were popular in the Edwardian era. The seductive can-can girls that add to the simmering atmosphere at Chez Maxime's have a flirty, abbreviated version in a colour that could be called Adrenaline Orange. 

Lisa Craig. Photography Kate Longley


Every detail of David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty glows and gleams. For Princess Aurora's wedding, designer Gabriela Tylesova creates a lavish festival that references the heady days of Louis the Sun King. And it's not only the royal couple that get the resplendent outfits. Every courtier has their own unique costume and headpiece. We love this Louis-reminiscent blaze of gold. 

(In Australia? Watch it from home ... and keep an eye out for the courtiers in the last act!) 

Luke Marchant. Photography Kate Longley


Our traditional version of The Nutcracker, by Peter Wright, has designs by John F Macfarlane, who studied Edwardian style to perfect the early scenes in Clara's home. But when Clara's dream begins, he lets his imagination loose into the natural world, and costumes blossom with leaves, petals and snowflakes. With Winter coming, we think now's a good time to admire the Snow Fairy's perfect coronet of icicles. 

Nicola Curry. Photography Kate Longley


If you've got to the stage of playing flamingo croquet with the vacuum cleaner, this one's for you. The Duchess in Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland©, dressed by Bob Crowley, is a majestically flouncy force of nature, and this hat is her triumph. She is fabulous, and she cares for no one. Be like the Duchess! 

David McAllister. Photography Kate Longley