Operas and ballets are often known for their exquisite costumes that are not only beautiful, but built to last. It's not at all uncommon for a costume house to purchase old pieces when an Opera's Wardrobe department is cleaning out and selling off their stock. What is rare is to be able to document a stage costume through to its new life in film. This particular piece is extraordinary, not only in its beautiful detail, but also because it has been seen in ballet, film, advertisements and photo shoots, as well as worn by several women and a man.
In 1994 Maria Björnson, best known for her spectacular Tony winning costume and set designs for Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, created the costumes for the Royal Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty. It was the only production for The Royal Ballet that Björnson ever designed for, and the pieces were in stock with the Royal Opera House's costume department until 2002 when they were sold to Angel's Costumiers.
This particular tutu was designed to emulate a pair of 18th Century Panniers. Three similar costumes appeared together on the Silver, Sapphire and Diamond Fairies. This costume was worn on the Diamond Fairy in 1994 in The Sleeping Beauty, likely on Sarah Wildor or Gillian Revie in the photo above. After the piece was sold to Angels, it appeared in 2009 on Lily Cole as Valentina in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. In 2007 it was seen again in an issue of Harper's Bazaar on Marc Jacobs in a photo shoot by Jean Paul Goude for Louis Vuitton. Lastly, in 2010 it appeared in an advertisement for Melissa Shoes on Dita Von Teese.