In 1924 Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, produced Le Train Bleu, “a ballet combining acrobatics, satire of the period, and pantomime.” Named after a speed train, which carried rich Londoners to the French Riviera, the ballet was based on a Cocteau story, featured costumes by Chanel and a backdrop painted by Pablo Picasso.
premiere was on June 20, 1924, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris. It was a time when art and commerce mixed it up. In those days Dali was trying his hand at fashion (he designed a lamb chop hat for the house of Schiaparelli) and Colette was peddling cosmetics to Frenchwomen alongside her novels. designing costumes for Le Train Bleu, Chanel dressed the dancers in actual sports clothes from her collection. She didn’t attempt to veil reality, but instead, brought it to life. wearing boldly striped wool jerseys, which were becoming a signature of Chanel’s designs—she got the idea from her then boyfriend, the Prince of Wales.
Chanel’s creations for the Ballets Russes’ Le Train Bleu can be viewed now at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes.