April 20 2014

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2 posts tagged "Frank Gehry"

Alaïa’s Aria


In May of 2012, the L.A. Philharmonic launched its Mozart/Da Ponte project—a three-year-long commitment to staging the pair’s trio of eighteenth-century operatic masterpieces: Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, and Cosi Fan Tutte. Last year, the institution partnered with California natives Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte and architect Frank Gehry to create the Don Giovanni costumes and set, respectively. This year, for its The Marriage of Figaro production, the L.A. Phil sourced talents from across the pond, tapping Azzedine Alaïa for costumes and Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel for the set. Under the helm of conductor Gustavo Dudamel and director Christopher Alden, Alaïa (who’s also preparing for a solo exhibition of his work at Paris’ Musée Galliera this fall) has created rich wares for the opera’s female and male cast, marking the first time in our memory that he’s tried his hand at menswear. The designer stuck to his signature knit silhouettes for the onstage looks, infusing them with a hint of metallic and bead detailing to catch the spotlight. Alaïa’s original sketches for the leads—Count and Countess Almaviva, played by Christopher Maltman and Dorothea Röschmann—debut exclusively above.

The Marriage of Figaro: May 17, 19, 23, 25, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For tickets, visit

Photo: Courtesy of Azzedine Alaïa and the L.A. Philharmonic

Rodarte At The Opera


Their past projects include the Fra Angelico Collection at LACMA and the solo exhibition States of Matter at MOCA, but Pasadena natives Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s latest artistic endeavor is their largest undertaking yet: designing the costumes for the L.A. Philharmonic’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, led by Gustavo Dudamel. For a short, four-performance run, the show presented itself as an opportunity for Rodarte to firmly secure itself as part of the city’s art establishment—not to mention to work with the legendary Frank Gehry.

Gehry’s set design transformed the Walt Disney Concert Hall—also of his design—into an abstract interpretation of Don Giovanni’s mind. A meeting of the minds is the right way to describe the sisters’ collaboration with Gehry, too. “We would have these meetings with Frank and would talk about things that had nothing to do with opera,” Laura Mulleavy told, citing the need to “learn each other’s language.” “But in that sense it was indirectly working on the project, because we needed to understand the way he was going to come up with the idea and eventually design a set, and then we would design the costumes to go with it.” Rodarte’s creations included two beaded gowns for each female lead, using silk, sequins, and intricate hand embroidery in a largely gray and white palette that introduced strategic color in the second act. For the men, they used denim (a first for the pair) to create a striking combination of straitjacket and armor, dressing each in a chest plate with a hand-painted marble finish—representing the chess pieces in Don Giovanni’s world.

In both lead time and inspiration, the Mulleavys’ operatic costume debut was a departure from their normal design process. “You are working with material that is so classic that everyone knows it, so you’re starting from a ground point that’s already decided for you,” Laura said of the source material for the year-long effort. But though they’re familiar with defining characters in their collections, these costume designs were part of an evolving collaboration that entailed multiple moving parts. “When you’re designing for characters, you really have to become a costume designer. You’re not the sole decider and you’re not a fashion designer in that situation.”

Don Giovanni concludes its run at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, L.A., with performances May 24 and 26.

Photos: Autumn de Wilde