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April 24 2014

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1 posts tagged "Cinderella"

Broadway’s Fairy Godfather: William Ivey Long

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“I’m in charge of all the magic,” says costume designer William Ivey Long—a veritable Broadway legend—of his latest project. Having been in the biz for over thirty years, Long is in the midst of finishing the costumes (over three hundred of them) for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which, starring Laura Osnes, will go into previews on January 25. His studio—a former strip club in Tribeca—is lined with reference images of Catherine de Médicis (she’s his muse for the wicked stepmother), sketches of the flower-, butterfly-, and vegetable-inspired outfits, and material for his fairy-tale looks, like faux fur, rich green brocade, and silver neoprene-lined leather that will be made into suits of armor. “These can’t be everyday clothes!” he quips.

Of course, little about Long is “everyday.” He’s won five Tony awards, created all the costumes for Broadway’s revival of Chicago—now in it’s eighteenth year—including the saucy Roxie Hart dresses for Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, and Robin Givens. He designed the flamboyant space suits for Siegfried and Roy’s Mirage Hotel show, dressed the cast of The Producers, and created the playful fifties ensembles for Hairspray. Modestly styled in a navy blazer and khakis (hailing from North Carolina, he’s a Southern boy at heart), Long sits down with Style.com to talk about working with couturier Charles James, living next door to the late artist Louise Bourgeois, and realizing the fantasy that is Cinderella.

Have you always worked out of this studio?
I used to work out of a brownstone in Chelsea. I moved in here three years ago, on Halloween night. I sold my last house to my next-door neighbor, Louise Bourgeois, for her to turn into her museum. She was fantastic and so supportive. She used to come and see the costumes, and near the end, I had to bring them to her. She would give me assignments and ask me to bring her specific things from my travels. I was so excited when I was able to find ancient tapestries, because her family, the Bourgeois family, for centuries restored and cleaned tapestries. She loved looking at all the fabrics, and she would use them to make various things, her little totems. She loved turning existing clothes that she had worn into her sculptures.

Let’s talk slippers. Did you know that, allegedly, Cinderella’s shoes were supposed to be ermine instead of glass? Some say it was an error in the seventeenth-century transcript.

No! Fur slippers would have been very surreal. And comfy. But guess who’s making my glass slippers? Stuart Weitzman! They’re made out of clear plastic. Apparently, in the seventies, when Weitzman first started, he had glass Cinderella high heels in one of his collections. Well, they were plastic made to look like glass.

How did you come to work with Stuart Weitzman?

It’s a complicated thing with producer connections, etc. Usually I don’t have such exalted playmates. Stuart is so charming. He fit the shoe on Laura Osnes’ foot for the first time the other day, and he was just like the prince. But I’m working with eight shops on the actual costumes. I’m in charge of the “magical” dress transformations, so my shops have to be knowledgeable about the intricacies of this and that. Nobody comes onstage to help the actors. They do it themselves. And it doesn’t black out, there’s no puff of smoke. They really do the magic in front of you.

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