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Conversations with Brooke : Ashlea Warren, Head Designer THE UPSIDE


There seems to be an intrinsic connection between ballet and fashion, and it is no wonder given the irresistible romanticism, grace, and style that it brings. With ballet’s heritage originating in the Italian renaissance courts in the 15th century, there is a timeless quality. The balletcore hashtag phenomenon is trending on TikTok with Gen Z reinterpreting the aesthetic, is Ballet re-claiming itself?

The aesthetic is a strong statement of femininity. The Chanel ballet flat goes back to the 1950’s, Miu Miu took the pointe shoe aesthetic to the street and in 2016 Valentino did a complete collection “Balletto” paying homage to the style and movement of ballet dancers, featuring tulle skirts, delicate lace, blush pinks and ballet flats. Luxury Australian brand Zimmermann often draws inspiration from ballet designs and just last year ZARA partnered with New York City Ballet for a collection. We are seeing cool brands like Loewe doing a “ballet” sneaker and let’s remember where the bodycon “leotard” originated before SKIMS took the world by storm.

These are just a few examples of brands that have been inspired by ballet in their designs. The timeless elegance of ballet continues to captivate designers and consumers alike and is sure to inspire many more collections in the years to come.

Overall, the balletcore aesthetic is all about creating a soft, romantic, and ethereal look that draws inspiration from the world of ballet and Gen Z is getting creative with it.

I recently chatted to Ashlea Warren, head designer of The Upside about their latest ballet inspired collection. Personally, I’m loving wearing it in the studio.

What was the inspiration for the collection?

We have always been inspired by ballet and dance – we shot Hayley Bieber many years ago in ballet shoes, so we have romanced with Ballet styling for quite some time. I came across an editorial of a stunning ballerina that I loved, and I have kept going back to it. The imagery was strong and tough, yet feminine and soft and I loved the yin and yang balance of it. That inspired me to dream this up and create a dance capsule – it was the perfect addition to our Muse collection, as it embraces how movement can help you explore the vulnerable softer sides of yourself and use them to fuel creativity and expression.

The capsule has a fresh take on femininity? How does this come across in the pieces?

The warm hues of soft ballet pink, earthy rose, red and maroon are quite feminine themselves so the choice of colour palette had to be right. We contrast this with dark navy and grey marle. The whole collection is very functional, and in the design features we have brought in that femininity with small cutouts, princess panels and ties that are quite feminine and accentuate the waist.

What are your favorite pieces and why?

I love them all but my faves would have to be the Plie Pointe Bodysuit, the Asana Tank, Alba tee and Celeste Pant in Chili red.

How would you wear them?

I am currently wearing the bodysuit with mens vintage workwear pants – I like mixing new with vintage in my styling as well as playing with proportions.

The Alba fleece tee is amazing post workout to throw on over legwear and a crop. It’s an organic cotton fleece, oversized silhouette and can be layered over a slim long sleeve top in the cooler months.

The accessories in the capsule complete the look – I’m obsessed with the Academy cap and the Barre Tote is the best everyday bag because of all of the compartments.

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