Coffee Table Books: Fashion Designers at the Opera

– By Carson Sieving –

Missoni Sketch for Lucia di Lammermoor

“In collaboration with designer…” is usually how announcements about capsule collections or new boutique hotels begin.  But perhaps less ubiquitous, Helena Matheopoulos’s new coffee table tome ends this oft-launched sentence with “…the opera house is pleased to present a new production.”  In Fashion Designers at the Opera, Matheopoulos presents the work of ten designer’s contributions to productions at the world’s most illustrious opera houses.  The book is a treasure of interviews with designers, their sketches and production photographs.

Creativity in collaborators abounds. Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor is based on a novel set in Scotland rife with family feuds and power struggles.  But for a new production at La Scala, director and designer Pier Luigi Pizzi reached out to masters of pattern beyond plaid — Ottavio and Rosita Missoni.  The book also chronicles the response to Giorgio Armani’s collaboration with the Royal Opera House for a production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte— the artists wanting to keep their costumes and the audience clamoring to buy them.  Perhaps the stuff of the most elite fashion shows from models and buyers, but hardly the expected response to an opera.

Renée Fleming in a Costume Designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Manon at the Metropolitan Opera

Matheopoloulos’ interviews explore, among other topics, the shift in medium designing fabric and thread for the stage.  As Karl Lagerfeld observes, “Here you need costumes that make a splash from afar.  At close quarters they can look as imperfect as you like.”  Fashion Designers at the Opera illustrates how a creative vision can make the artists on stage as stylish as the audience on opening night.

Fashion Designers at the Opera by Helena Matheopoulos

Fashion Designers at the Opera
by Helena Matheopoulos
Published by Thames & Hudson

Carson Sieving drinks Manhattans in Manhattan, where she makes lists, collects postcards, and attends the opera.  She writes about how beautiful things inspire and influence a beautiful life.  You can follow her on Twitter @CarsonSieving

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