The Tutu Project at the Design Exchange

I have worked for nearly eight months in the building next to the Design Exchange (DX), Canada’s design museum, but haven’t checked out an exhibition. Two exhibits, “60 Years of Designing the Ballet” and The Tutu Project, in collaboration with the National Ballet of Canada, running from July 11 to September 2, finally got me in. And what luck, just two days after learning about the exhibits was the last Friday of the month when DX has a free tour at 1 p.m., my lunch hour!


The lobby is awash in prettiness with dress forms all over wearing the invited tutus from across the country and I couldn’t wait to check each one out in detail. The tour guide led a group of 20 or so of us up the heritage stairwell to the trading floor as DX is housed in the former Toronto Stock Exchange. With the guide’s description of the layout of the trading floor, you can imagine how loud the work day was with a hundred brokers on the floor at a given time. We ascended the stairs from the trading floor to a viewing platform where women were relegated to until the 1970s and we got a glimpse of the permanent collection before being let loose on the “60 Years of Designing the Ballet” exhibit upstairs and the Tutu Project in the lobby!


The “60 Years of the Designing the Ballet” exhibit has items on loan from the National Ballet from major productions like The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake. It was so cool to walk amidst the wardrobe and set pieces and demystify the ballet world.




My favourite costumes from “60 Years of Designing the Ballet”



Then I had to dash downstairs because there was much more to photograph and read! Remember how I was so nutso and tracked down 20 Street Pianos recently? I was even more dreamy and excited by this collection. Organizations that submitted tutus ranged from those that you would expect (other ballet companies across the country, Canadian designers) to social issues (the environment) to purely whimsical and nostalgic. I’ve grouped them into a few categories to show my “must-sees” but I also created a Flickr set for all of my photos.

My favourite and totally girly tutus from The Tutu Project




A tutu with a message: Really neat concepts



Odd but cool tutus



Tutu meets fashion: I could wear these…!


“What the?!”: totally fantasy tutus


In the museum store, I loved the nylon totebag that was created from a National Ballet banner… but not the price tag. There is also an accompanying book about the Tutu Project with the coolest rubber-feel cover. If you don’t need to read up about each of the tutus, Huffington Post put together a slideshow that covers most of the tutus, individually staged, unlike my photos where you see the edge of one tutu in a shot of another!