Barbara Matera, a costume maker whose career spanned five decades and included the founding of the costume shop, Barbara Matera, Ltd., in 1968, died in Manhattan at the age of 72 Sept. 13, according to her husband, Arthur.
The cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage. She and Arthur Matera founded Barbara Matera, Ltd. Costumes made in their shop can currently be seen in Broadway or touring stagings of Beauty and the Beast, Aida, Kiss Me, Kate, 42nd Street and the upcoming Mamma Mia!.
Ms. Matera executed designs for some of Broadway's major designers, including Theoni V. Aldredge, Tony Walton, William Ivey Long, Ann Hould-Ward, Willa Kim, Raoul Pene Dubois, Freddy Wittop, Bob Crowley and Julie Taymor, among others.
She created costumes for ballet, opera, plays, musicals and films. She was also a designer who imagined many costumes for New York City Ballet, for David Merrick's Broadway production of Private Lives and the John Houseman Acting Company's The Way of the World. She was an Acting Company board member.
Ms. Matera was born Barbara Gray in Kent, England. Her career began in London and included work for the Adelphi Players, Covent Garden, the Ballet Romberg, Stratford-on Avon and the Old Vic. She eventually opened her own company, Scott/Gray Ltd. She moved to the U.S. in 1960. Ms. Matera executed the inaugural ball gown worn by Hillary Rodham Clinton for Bill Clinton's first inauguration as president.
She designed private clothes for Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Ethel Merman, Lauren Bacall, Raquel Welch, Carol Channing, Barbra Streisand, Lena Horne and many others.
She won many awards including the Irene Sharaff Award, presented by Theatre Development Fund. Her work was the focus of a 1996 exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts called "Inside and Out — The Costumes of Barbara Matera." Its emphasis was on craftsmanship and construction techniques.
She is survived by husband Arthur, a sister, Pauline Ritchie Fallon, three nieces and three great nephews.
— By Kenneth Jones