By Anika Chapin
08 Jun 2014
|Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva|
A willowy figure steps into the light. Graceful and impeccably styled in the latest creation from one of the world's top fashion designers. No, she's not on a catwalk, nor is she a model. She's a performer.
Recently, so many fashion designers have worked on theatre and ballet projects, that the line between catwalk and stage has become increasingly diaphanous. With ESosa's designs colorfully illustrating the passing decades in Broadway's Motown and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, beaded finery by Isabel Toledo sparkling on the dancers of After Midnight, and fashion's enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier bringing the glam to Grimm in Ballet Preljocaj's Snow White at the David H. Koch Theater, buy a ticket to a show and you might think you're in the tents of New York's fashion week.
They are in good company. Throughout history fashion designers have been drawn to the theatricality of the stage. From Chanel designing costumes for Little Miss Bluebeard in 1923, and through to Halston, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Isaac Mizrahi and others, couturiers have sometimes opted for dressing characters over customers.
Toledo also found she had to shift how she imagines her designs. In fashion, she favors adaptability: "I like to design clothes that are versatile enough that every woman can transform them and wear them according to her personal style," said Toledo (whose frequent customer Michelle Obama wore a Toledo design for husband Barack Obama's first inauguration). When designing for the stage, however, "costumes have to very specifically help define the character, nothing should be extra, no caprice allowed." As Mizrahi put it, "you're always trying to help an actor bring a part alive." Or, in other words, "you're always the shrink."Continued...