Karl Lagerfeld’s Georgian muse
18 September, 2014
Karl Lagerfeld’s Georgian muse
We at Georgian Journal have the pleasure of introducing our readers to a senior principal ballerina of the English National Ballet and the Georgian muse of Karl Lagerfeld: Elene Glurdjidze.

– Where does the story of your success begin?

– I made easy friends with success from early on, it seems: when I was 12, I got transferred to Vaganova Ballet Academy from Tbilisi Choreographic School without much difficulty. I studied well, but it wasn’t anything overly inspiring and no
one prophesized me having a great future, especially not my teacher… But despite not having big perspectives at school, when I finished it and got accepted to the ballet company, I was instantly tasked with main roles. And they were difficult ballets, too, such as “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty.” Due to a successful career in St. Petersburg I basically became a “free” ballerina and toured numerous countries, although I never even thought about settling down somewhere in the West.
However, my father had a very strong desire for me to live in a “normal” country. This was his motive when he sent my professional data to numerous famous theaters all over the world. And funnily enough, he initially tried to hide it from me. When I found out about this, I laughed – there are so many splendid ballerinas around, why would anyone choose specifically me? But then I received responses from a multitude of theaters (even those located on different continents), which invited me for trial sessions. The English National Ballet wished to immediately meet with me. No one except my father supported me moving to England. I didn’t want it either because I was quite comfortable in St. Petersburg. I put forward many conditions in hope that the English National Ballet would decline them. But it was all in vain. ENB even agreed to instantly give me a senior principal ballerina’s spot, which didn’t go in accordance with standards of this ballet company. What could I do? I went.
Initially I was faced with difficulties – a feeling of loneliness left me restless, and the language barrier tormented me. However, I proved successful in my dancing from the very start and my first performance in “Swan Lake” (again) earned a lot of praise from critics. In two to three months I told my father that his support paid off. I got used to life in London and learned to like it.

– It can be said that you are one of Karl Lagerfeld’s muses. Can you tell us how he chose you and about the dress of 2,500 feathers that he made for you?

– A hundredth anniversary of Dyagilev’s European Tour was approaching. These tours are connected to Coco Chanel’s name who had an involvement in them and provided various kinds of support throughout the years. Chanel House decided to involve itself in celebrating the anniversary as well by providing a special ballet dress designed by Lagerfeld. The first stage was, of course, the selection of a ballerina. For a whole year, representatives of Chanel secretly attended performances in various countries and judged the dancers’ viability. In the end, they opted for me and invited me to the headquarters of Chanel in Paris. This was completely unexpected and I initially failed to comprehend the scale of such a choice. Lagerfeld put the dress he designed on me himself, remarking that it suited me well. I danced “The Dying Swan” in this dress right there, in front of Chanel’s employees. Lagerfeld praised my performance, especially paying attention to my arms. Now the right to wear this ballet skirt belongs only to me and it is considered my property while I am an active ballet dancer. After I finish my career, it will be given over to a museum. I was also deeply honored by Karl Lagerfeld who sent his sketch, according to which the dress was modeled, to me in London complete with a frame. This is the first time an original sketch has not remained at the Chanel House and has been given to an individual instead.

– Karl Lagerfeld made another dress for you after this, did he not?

– No, that dress wasn’t for me. I just wore it for a photo session for a well-known publication, Harper’s Bazaar, and the dress was brought to London (with its own guards!) and the session took place at ENB studio. The dress turned out to be amazingly beautiful and results of the photo session were successful as well.

– What’s your daily life in London like?

– I am tasked to capacity and my schedule is very busy. It is hard to dance, look after one’s physical shape and take care of a family. My child reprimands me sometimes saying – you’re completely consumed by ballet.

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