30 Facts About Barbara Karinska


Over her 50 year career, that began at age 41, Karinska earned legendary status time and again through her continuing collaborations with stage designers including Christian Berard, Andre Derain, Irene Sharaff, Raoul Pene du Bois and Cecil Beaton; performer-producers Louis Jouvet and Sonja Henie; ballet producers Rene Blum, Colonel de Basil and Serge Denham.

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Barbara Karinska began to design costumes for Balanchine ballets in 1949 with Emmanuel Chabrier's “Bourree Fantasque, ” for the newly founded New York City Ballet.

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Barbara Karinska was the first costume designer to win the Capezio Dance Award, in 1962, for costumes "of visual beauty for the spectator and complete delight for the dancer".

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Barbara Karinska divided her time between homes in Manhattan, Sandisfield, Massachusetts, and Domremy-la-Pucelle, France, the birthplace of Joan of Arc.

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Barbara Karinska was born Varvara Andreevna Jmoudsky in 1886, in the city of Kharkov, Russian Empire and baptized in the Russian Orthodox religion in Kharkov's Church of the Annunciation.

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Barbara Karinska's father was a wealthy wholesaler of cotton goods, philanthropist and city father.

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Barbara Karinska was the third and eldest female of the ten Jmoudsky siblings.

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Barbara Karinska learned Victorian embroidery as a child from her German and Swiss governesses.

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Barbara Karinska developed her own form of painting applying pieces of colored silk gauze to photographs and drawings.

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Barbara Karinska opened a Tea Salon that became the meeting place of Moscow artists, intellectuals and government officials every afternoon at five o'clock.

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Barbara Karinska opened an antique store and an embroidery school where she taught the needle arts to the proletariat.

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Barbara Karinska boarded the train waving and blowing kisses to the crowd that came to bid her bon voyage.

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The family was forced to move to a popular quarter of the city of lights and Barbara Karinska looked desperately for any and every kind of work using her skills of sewing and embroidery.

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Berard, Derain, and Miro would provide a general sketch, an idea, but it would be Barbara Karinska who expounded upon the concept, modified it, chose the fabric, quality and quantity, and decided how the concept would be implemented.

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Barbara Karinska's daughter remained and the business was reopened under the name “Irene Karinska”.

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Barbara Karinska appeared in New York early in 1939 of her own volition and quickly resumed work that began in London with the New York manifestation of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo directed by Serge Denham who helped her to immigrate and provided working space where she launched her American career with BRMC's “Ghost Town, ” with costumes designed by Raoul Pene de Bois and Salvador Dali's “Venusberg” from “Tannheuser” — both presented in New York in the fall of 1939.

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Barbara Karinska had just received Karinska's address in New York from Irene in Paris and put aunt and nephew in touch.

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Barbara Karinska kept the mansion; the name Karinska Inc and the parquet floor that the Baron had had brought to New York from a family castle in France.

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Miss Lee believed that Barbara Karinska understood the impact of her performance and enhanced her ability to deliver her unique style of burlesque to the audience.

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Since the German occupation of Paris, Barbara Karinska had lost contact with her daughter, Irene, who was living in Sarthe at the family residence of her husband, Xavier Francois.

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Back to work with Barbara Karinska, Vlady brought to the great costumer something she had never known: American military order, discipline and administration.

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The 56th Street mansion was abandoned; Karinska Inc was liquidated and the Karinska-Vlady enterprise, KARINSKA Stage and Art Inc, made its debut in a rather unsightly loft on W 44th Street where Karinska's costumes, always delivered at the last moment, could be walked over to the theaters if needs be.

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Barbara Karinska had signed a contract with the Ford Foundation to operate the New York City Ballet's new costume shop.

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Barbara Karinska then executed all the masks and armor for Balanchine's 1965 Don Quixote.

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Barbara Karinska's career looked promising advanced Macular Degeneration rendered him unable to read costume sketches and he retired following his share of costumes for the Met's 1966 Cleopatra by Samuel Barber and Franco Zeffirelli.

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In 1964 Barbara Karinska was invited by Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, newly injected with generous grants from the Ford Foundation.

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Barbara Karinska would make endless sketches by pasting pieces of fine fabric onto pencil-drawn figures on heavy watercolor paper.

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In 1983, Balanchine died in April and Barbara Karinska died on 18 October; two weeks after her 97th birthday, but six years after a debilitating stroke left her unable to speak or move.

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Barbara Karinska solved this problem by devising the "powder puff" tutu, with a shorter skirt made of six or seven layers of gathered net, each layer a half inch longer than the preceding layer.

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In 1956, for Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, Barbara Karinska created the knee-length chiffon ballet dress, which has become a standard design for ballet costumes.

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