Funny Girl Swan Lake Tutu

“What are ya gonna do? Shoot da swans? These lovelies?”

Barbra Streisand wore this white tutu for the Swan Lake parody scene in “Funny Girl.” (1968) Designed by Irene Sharaff, this costume was inspired by Anna Pavlova’s costume for the dying swan. 

Anna Pavlova’s Dying Swan

In a Dec. 1967, Dance Magazine interview, Herb Ross said “While she was preparing for the parody of Swan Lake, Barbra immersed herself in ballet lore and proved thoroughly receptive to coaching. She did so well that after the first rehearsal of the ballet scene, she was spontaneously applauded by the other dancers in the cast. Barbra’s ballet teacher Nora Kaye noted that they tried having Barbra on pointe, but it was too much, which is why she ended up in soft slippers. 

In 1832, Marie Taglioni became the first ballerina to ever dance on pointe, as well wear what would become known as the tutu. At the premiere production of La Sylphide, Marie wore an airy bell like skirt (primarily to show off her pointe work) with a fitted bodice. 

Though the first “romantic” tutu was 12 inches from the floor, they were gradually shorted. By the 1880’s the whole leg was visible in what became known as the ”classical” tutu. Barbra’s tutu was the “Balanchine” version of the classical tutu. The plunging V bodice featured white marabou, covering it’s nude elastic straps. The 12 panel, piped, pointed bodice has a built in basque and a marabou trimmed low scoop back.

Beadwork runs from the front to back of the bodice, featuring silver sequins, seed beads, bugles beads and clear, faceted bicones. The tutu’s layers of tulle have v shaped edging and a swan feather overlay. Elongated swan feathers extend over the edge of the tutu in the back. Hand placed clear sequins are dotted all over the tutu and swan feathers. The matching feathered headpiece is also covered in clear dotted sequins. It is topped with the famous Swan Queen crown. This was crafted on a silver wire frame, with a row of Swarovski AB rhinestone chain at it’s base. Clear faceted bicone, briolette and elongated bicone beads form the crown. This costume has been resold several times since it was first auctioned at Debbie Reynold’s Hollywood Memorabilia auction. Due to damage from improper storage it is now in very poor condition.

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