In The Closet: Ballerina Begoña Cao is always en pointe

September 16, 2018
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Begoña Cao

Her vintage Chanel tweed dress is an old favourite. (Image: NC)

Appointed principal ballerina in 2009, she has danced the lead in numerous productions, including Romeo And Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.

Begoña lives in London with her husband, Orlando, and their two daughters, Isabela and Lucia.

How would you describe your style?

Feminine with a hint of rock chic.

As a busy working mother of two young daughters, five, and one, trainers are my go-to for day but I’ll wear them with a pretty dress.

Which colours and shapes suit you best?

I love colour – vibrant blue, yellow and orange and I’m fond of little shifts and slip dresses.

I also like skinny jeans and leggings with a loose top, jumper or jacket.

Even when I’m playing with the girls I like to look smartish and hope they’ll grow up with that attitude, that you don’t have to be scruffy.

Have you a favourite fashion era?

Hollywood glamour through the eras from the 20s onwards.

I adore the idea that you can never have too many little dresses.

Does your work as a dancer – and your costumes – inform your taste?

Yes, in terms of the glamour and beauty of the wardrobes, the designs.

But my everyday wardrobe has to be more practical.

Ballerina Begoña Cao

Begoña teams her skinny black Club Monaco leggings with a beaded top. (Image: NC)

Are the costumes part of the joy of the performance?

Yes, it’s always a thrill to see the costumes.

But what I wear to rehearse in is just as important.

I’m currently performing in Lest We Forget, a tribute to the First World War at Sadler’s Wells comprising three short ballets.

One is set in a bomb-making factory, so I’m wearing a long skirt and apron over a leotard shaped like a shirt – plus long, yellow gloves – designed to flow so I can dance and kick my legs up in it.

After that I’m playing the title role in Manon.

Set in 18th-century Paris, the costumes are sumptuous, but as her life unravels, she loses her wealth and ends up in rags, dying onstage.

That for me is the best bit.

Which are your favourite costumes?

If I had to pick three: the red velvet dress with pearl and gold mesh trim I wore for Juliet, the black tutu for Odile, the black swan in Swan Lake, and the gold and black period costume with hoops, petticoats and a corset for Bathilde in Giselle.

Which are your favourite high-street shops?

I prefer small, independent boutiques especially Stephanie in Gloucester Road, South Kensington.

Of the bigger stores, I like Whistles and All Saints.

Ballerina Begoña Cao clothes

This Hermès scarf is one of her favourites. (Image: NC)


I prefer small, independent boutiques especially Stephanie in Gloucester Road, South Kensington

Begoña Cao

Who is your favourite designer?

If I see something I like I’ll buy it, regardless of who it’s by.

Do you have a style icon? My sister Suzanna, who’s a lawyer.

For work, she wears tailored clothes but always with a twist.

She’s quirky and cool.

How do you keep fit?

My husband Orlando is a fitness instructor and he trains me.

The kids sometimes get involved, too.

We’ve devised a routine where I hold my little one at the front, like a weight, with the older one on my shoulders.

They’re happy and I keep strong.

Ballerina Begoña Cao shoes

The ballerina wore these silver peeptoe Jimmy Choo heels on her wedding day. (Image: NC)

Are you a hoarder or do you clear out your wardrobe each season?

I’m pretty good at clearing out and giving to charity shops.

Are you a fan of vintage?

I have quite a few lovely vintage pieces.

I like Topshop vintage and used to visit Cornucopia.

How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Less than 20 pairs, but I get through 10 pairs of ballet shoes a month.

They get a lot of punishment.

I’m not sentimental about wearing them for certain roles, except for the pair I wore to play Sleeping Beauty when I was four months pregnant.

I will always keep them.

Ballerina Begoña Cao jewellery

Begoña’s jewellery is from her husband, except for the gold pendant that was a birthday gift. (Image: NC)

Do you have a weakness for handbags?

More so than shoes, but I still have way less than 20.

What is your current favourite outfit?

A long patchwork gypsy skirt from Stephanie which I wear with a plain navy Warehouse T-shirt plus Russell & Bromley flat sandals.

Is there an old favourite you turn to in a wardrobe crisis?

A Chanel summer tweed shift dress. I picked it up in a vintage shop years ago and wear it with heels or flats.

Ballerina Begoña Cao clothes

The dancer got this bodycon dress from a Marylebone High Street boutique. (Image: NC)

How much do you spend on clothes each month?

I don’t shop that often so some months nothing, then I might spend £500 in a day.

What is the most expensive item in your wardrobe? And best bargain?

My wedding dress and shoes are the most expensive; the best bargain is a yellow shift dress, knocked down from several hundred pounds to £50 at Stephanie.

What is the oldest item in your wardrobe?

A black blouson jacket with a leather trim which belonged to my mother.

It’s a winter favourite.

Who made your wedding dress?

Jenny Packham.

Style-wise it’s old Hollywood, ivory silk, cut on the bias – very Marilyn Monroe.

I wore it with Jimmy Choo shoes.

We got married in Spain on my birthday in 2014.

Do you have a favourite LBD?

A Donna Karan wrap dress I used to wear for special occasions.

I’ve worn it so much it’s for every day now.

Begoña Cao

Begoña snapped up this dress, reduced from several hundred pounds to £50, at Stephanie. (Image: NC)

What is your favourite piece of jewellery?

My diamond engagement ring with a rose-gold band, which my husband chose.

Have you ever made a fashion faux pas?

Not in my eyes.

People have said I shouldn’t wear dresses with trainers but it works for me.

What item of clothing would you save from a burning house?

My wedding dress and shoes.

The only items I couldn’t replace.

Begoña stars in the English National Ballet production of Manon from October 17.

See ballet.org.uk.



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